Folkstreams Generic Lesson Plan

Use our lesson plan template to teach any of the Folkstreams films!

Film Title______________________________Running Time______minutes

Filmmakers____________________________Copyright Date___________

Grade Level

Curriculum Areas
English Language Arts, Social Studies, American History, Social Studies, Visual Art, Media Literacy, Filmmaking, Career Studies, Service Learning, etc.


Literary Links

Time Required
1-3 class periods

Use the film in one class period or to introduce an extended lesson.

Overview [Insert film synopsis from the web site or summarize the lesson here.]


Students will:

Study documentary films as literary texts and primary sources

Analyze filmmaking techniques in documentary films

Reflect on their own cultural groups, traditions, sense of place, and beliefs

Examine this tradition within American history and literature

Investigate and document folklife in their communities

Adaptation Strategies

Chunking the film into parts may help some students by allowing time for questions and discussion.

Screen an excerpt to screen in class instead of using the whole film.


Link to your state's standards in various disciplines at


Film Analysis Framework

Release Form

To Prepare

  • Preview the film and consider whether to "chunk" it in two or three parts or show it in its entirety. Capture some quotes to initiate discussion and add words and terms students should listen for to the Vocabulary
  • Review and adapt activities, extensions, worksheets, and resources for your students. Students may take notes on notebook paper or use the worksheets. The Film Analysis Framework provides scaffolding to cue students to look for elements of filmmaking. The Release Form is for students' interviews. Print out and copy any worksheets students will use.
  • Think about the film topic in the context of your community


1. Before Viewing

Prepare students by brainstorming how documentaries differ from feature films

Give students an overview and ask them to brainstorm what they know about the film topic.

Self-Inventory: Ask them to write briefly what they expect to see and hear as they view the film.

2. During Viewing

Prompt students to write down the basic film information (title, etc.) and to take notes as they watch the film. To organize observations they may take notes on notebook paper or use the Film Analysis Framework.

3. After Viewing

Open discussion by asking students to review their self-inventories. How did the film differ from what they expected? What surprised them? What tensions and contradictions did they sense? What values were expressed? What is the main message? What are subtexts? What would they ask the filmmakers? Someone in the film?

Use a quotation from the film to spark discussion.

Suggested Activities

English Language Arts: Assign students to write a personal narrative about their experiences with this tradition. Students may also write a film synopsis or choose words or phrases from the film to use in writing a poem.

Social Studies, English Language Arts, Economics, Service Learning: After a class discussion about the role of this tradition in studentsĈ܈ lives, families, and your community, students may investigate further by conducting fieldwork research. Working individually or in teams, students interview, photograph, or make a film about your community. They will be creating primary sources that they can give back to the community through an exhibit, web site, film, or contribution to local archives. Public domain resources in Unit II of Louisiana Voices include all students need to learn, practice, and conduct fieldwork, including release forms. They may use the Release Form.

Visual Art, Media Literacy: How do students think this documentary film compares with other documentaries? Popular movies? Ask them to analyze this film in class discussion or writing using elements from the Film Analysis Framework relating to filmmaking techniques and aesthetics. They can also make a storyboard or write a review of the film.


Screen a commercial film about this tradition and have students compare it with this film or choose another Folkstreams film.

Completed worksheets, personal narratives, synopsis, poetry, interviews, storyboards, reviews, etc.

Class discussions, reflections, interviewing, creating presentations, analysis, comparing and contrasting


Instruct students to list unfamiliar words as they view the film and words or expressions܈ that communicate the meaning of the film. Discuss in class.