Downloads: Media Alert

PBS Documentary Series Offers Free Lending Library of Films, Curriculum-Based Lesson Plans and Discussion Guides to Help Students Understand Today’s World

“When I select ‘texts’ for my classroom, I am always looking for things that will engage my students in worlds they don’t naturally encounter. . . . I want them to be surprised by what they discover. POV films do that. They open up new experiences in a way that makes us pay attention.” — Christa Overbeck, English teacher, Olentangy Liberty High School, Powell, Ohio

Since its first broadcast on PBS in 1988, the groundbreaking independent documentary series POV (Point of View) has aimed to go “beyond the broadcast” to widen the nation’s discussion of the most important social issues of the day. As students head back to school this fall, POV’s Community Engagement and Education Department will continue to partner with middle schools, high schools, colleges and community organizations, providing a comprehensive menu of resources that generate dialogue around POV films and put a human face on history and current affairs. Educators are invited to:

  • Join 3,000+ teachers in our Community Network and borrow more than 70 films for free
  • Download 125 free standards-based lesson plans with 217 streaming video clips
  • Access 130 film-based discussion guides for a variety of subject areas and grade levels

“It’s been very exciting to see our community network of teachers grow to more than 3,000 over the past few years,” said Eliza Licht, vice president, POV Community Engagement and Education. “We have found that the personal storytelling in our films is a wonderful learning tool; it becomes a springboard for discussion that not only helps students understand the issues, but often helps them learn about themselves. The goal of our interactive education campaigns is to use film as a tool to support students in becoming thoughtfully engaged citizens.”

POV, now in its 25th season, is broadcast on PBS on Thursdays at 10 p.m. from June through October 2012, with specials in 2013 concluding the season. (Check local listings.) POV is the winner of a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking, two International Documentary Association Awards for Best Continuing Series and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Award for Corporate Commitment to Diversity.

2012 Lesson Plan Highlights:

I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful by Jonathan Demme
Subject Areas: Civics/Government, Current Events, Geography, U.S. History, Social Studies
Students conduct character analyses of fearless matriarch Carolyn Parker, who struggled to rebuild her house in New Orleans after it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Students watch clips from the film and then organize this information in essays.

The City Dark by Ian Cheney
Subject Areas: Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Current Events
Students study the nesting process of the endangered loggerhead turtle species and watch a video clip that illustrates how artificial lighting along beaches disorients turtle hatchlings and hinders their ability to reach the ocean successfully.

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday
Subject Areas: Civics, Social Studies, U.S. History, World History, Current Events
Students identify and research participants in social justice movements or other types of movements or communities. The activity is inspired by a display in the barbershop of civil rights veteran James Armstrong, as seen in a clip from the documentary.

Racing Dreams by Marshall Curry
Subject Area: Mathematics
Students collect and analyze data in an effort to improve their performance in an interactive simulation featuring competitive go-kart racing.

Sin País (Without Country) by Theo Rigby
Subject Areas: Civics/Government, Current Events, Geography, U.S. History, Social Studies
Students explore and analyze how U.S. immigration policies affect families with mixed citizenship status.

About POV’s educational resources:

  • To support secondary school educators in using media in the classroom, POV provides lesson plans for grades 6-12 that have been designed to meet national standards, enhance critical-thinking skills and address a broad range of academic subjects, such as history, geography, math, science, language arts and social studies. POV films address a wide range of issues, including criminal justice, gender, immigration, politics and government, race relations and war and peace.
  • POV’s educational materials are produced by nationally recognized media educator Dr. Faith Rogow, curriculum developer Cari Ladd, issue-specific experts and skilled facilitators.
  • Increasingly, educators and nonprofit organizations across the United States look to POV as an integral resource for fostering community dialogue and participation. POV staff has served on the PBS Teacher Advisory Board and presented workshops on using media in the classroom at the National Educational Telecommunications Association, the Celebration of Teaching and Learning, the National Council for the Social Studies and the National Council of Teachers of English.

About POV:
Produced by American Documentary, Inc., the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 325 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide and has a Webby Award-winning online series, POV’s Borders. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the desJardins/Blachman Fund and public television viewers. Funding for POV’s Diverse Voices Project is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

POV Communications: 212-989-7425. Emergency contact: 646-729-4748
Cathy Fisher,
POV online pressroom:

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POV Pressroom
Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.