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Use these companion lesson plans to present P.O.V's Borders to your middle school or high school class.

Teachers,let us know what happened with your students and whether we can share your experiences with other teachers.


The following discussion questions and lesson plans comprise a unit that uses the Internet as a learning tool in the subject areas of Literary Arts, Health, History. They are written for grades 7-12. These classroom activities include: learning objectives; an outline of the relevant national standards met by the plans; a list of necessary tools and materials; a notation regarding the total time needed to complete the individual lessons; a teaching strategy; assessment recommendations; and extension ideas.



These questions are aimed at high-school age viewers serve to guide group discussions or individual writing or journal assignments. They primarily focus on issues relating to college preparation, decision-making skills, health education, and future goal planning. There are discussion questions for each video diary and wrap-up questions for students who have viewed all 13 diaries.

ESL LESSON: Using Leaving Elsa with ESL Students


Note from Janet, the ESL teacher who developed this plan for her class:

These are some comprehension questions I've been using with my students before watching each episode. Each student in my class is following one of the three teens. After they watch the episode, they write the answers to the questions. Then they meet in groups to discuss them along with new vocabulary words. The following day, I pass out the episode summary as a follow-up. It serves the dual purpose of keeping them abreast of all three teens. That way they can compare the three more effectively...

I don't know if the questions will be of much use to [non-ESL teachers]. They are very basic because of the limited English skills of the students. Gradually, we plan to elicit students' opinions with more sophisticated and open-ended questions. We also plan to prepare them to write an essay. It's all still a work in progress from week to week.

Thanks to POV for providing such a stimulating opportunity for learning.

LESSON 1: Using P.O.V.'s Borders Snapshots — Art as Symbolic Journalism


The term "borders" refers to both very real and very symbolic phenomenon. In fact, in the era of globalization, it's a concept that more and more cannot be fully understood from any single viewpoint. In some arenas, such as race and class relations within many nations, the "real" borders are disappearing while many of the symbolic borders hold fast. Many would-be immigrants, however, find the "real" borders as tight as ever, but find the borders between ideas, information and communication disappearing by the day.

Art has the power to explore an issue from many levels and viewpoints. Throughout history, one of the roles of artists has always been to look at the world (the politics, history, culture) and interpret it and try to make sense of it through their art.

In this exercise, we will use the metaphor of "Art as Symbolic Journalism" to explore how art can sometimes be a better tool for analyzing and interpreting the world than strictly factual or journalistic approaches. Students will use this framework to analyze the idea of "borders" and create poetry and artwork in response.

LESSON 2: Storytelling and the Power of Personal Narrative


A comprehensive lesson on the importance of storytelling. Themes addressed in the plan include: a brief overview of the personal narrative, storytelling structure and the historical significance of telling one's own story (Frederick Douglass, Anne Frank). With an emphasis on journal writing, self expression and the use of language, this lesson plan is a guide for students who want to gain heightened communication skills and who are preparing to write personal statements for colleges and universities. The application of this plan will go beyond English and Language Arts uses as the exercise and discipline of writing regularly is a multidisciplinary activity.



These excellent lesson plans provide a framework for creating student-produced video diaries, like those featured prominently in AMERICAN HIGH and P.O.V.'s BORDERS. The Guide was authored by Jonathan Mednick, the award-winning filmmaker and experienced educator, whose role on AMERICAN HIGH included teaching video production to the students featured in the series.

Note: In order to access and print the PDF version of lesson plans, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not already have this tool, you may download Adobe Acrobat free of charge at the Adobe web site.

Suggestions for lesson content improvement and implementation are always welcome at connect@pov.org.