On the Road with Community Classroom

November was a busy month for Community Classroom, the ITVS program dedicated to creating educational film resources for use in high schools, colleges, and community settings. We took Community Classroom on the road to three annual educator conferences, including the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and reached thousands of America’s finest educators.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn delivers a keynote address about her book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

At the NCSS conference in Seattle, Sheryl WuDunn, author of the book that inspired the documentary film series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, gave a keynote speech to a crowd of more 700 social studies teachers. WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spoke of the work she and her husband, Nicholas Kristof (also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), have been engaged in to shed light on the oppression women and girls face worldwide–from Tiananmen Square twenty years ago to the innovative, media savvy Half the Sky Movement of today.

After watching clips from the documentary, the audience had a chance to engage a panel of educators, youth advocates, and teen activists in a discussion about how to teach issues related to gender oppression in their social studies classes. The event came just days after NCSS officially endorsed the curriculum that ITVS’s Community Classroom program created for the documentary. The endorsement is a significant milestone for ITVS, now part of an exclusive group to receive the stamp of approval from America’s largest association devoted solely to social studies education.

WuDunn’s work with her husband Nicholas Kristof inspired the Independent Lens documentary series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

At the NCSS conference, Community Classroom exhibited with Independent Lens’ sister series POV to share free educational resources with social studies teachers from across the country.  Another 600 educators sought us out at our booth to express delight and gratitude that we make these resources available and free. “Yes FREE!” we had to assure them again and again in response to their looks of disbelief.

Even more educators dropped by our poster session highlighting resources for teaching African-American history year-round. We previewed clips from our Women and Girls Lead, Volume 2 curriculum collection titled African-American Women Lead and demonstrated the iPad app for More than a Mapp, a crowd-sourced map inspired by the film More than a Month. Educators couldn’t agree more that they should be teaching African-American history not just in February, but year round.

A panel, moderated by Lisa Clarke, Washington Fellow for the U.S. Department of Education, hear from a high school student that started a nonprofit organization to promote access to education in Rwanda.

Women’s studies educators also heard more about one of our Women and Girls Lead curriculum collections during a poster session at the National Association for Women’s Studies Association annual conference. We discussed the inspirations for creating the Women, Girls and the Criminal Justice System curriculum in partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA that takes at-risk girls through a seven-step leadership development program.

Language arts teachers at the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference viewed clips from Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and Wham! Bam! Islam!, the film that inspired the Hunt for the Noor Stone online game. The game is just one of our curriculum resources that support the Diverse Muslim Voices initiative to build awareness and understanding in the U.S. of the range of Muslim societies and cultures.

You can order any of ITVS’s curriculum collections on DVD for free at itvs.org/educators. Stay tuned for more conference updates as Community Classroom prepares for the Celebration of Teaching and Learning in March.