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For Educators

The wealth of themes explored in THE WAR offer an extraordinary educational opportunity for your classroom. The materials on this web site are specifically designed to help teachers use THE WAR and its themes not only to teach the history of the Second World War, but also to bring the powerful medium of storytelling into the classroom.

Lesson Plans »

This web site includes 14 lesson plans developed to help teachers use THE WAR in the classroom.  Classroom activities are appropriate for students in grades 9-12 and cover many of the major themes addressed in the film.  Many lesson plans also incorporate video clips from the film as well as additional resources found on this site.  All the lessons address national teaching standards listed within each plan.

Snapshot Activities »

Because THE WAR is so rich in educational themes and we know that teachers have a limited amount of time, in this section you will find a series of easy-to-use "snapshot activities" for classroom use. Each snapshot activity contains a brief overview along with activity ideas teachers can use to create lessons tailored to individual class curriculum and teaching style.

Search & Explore »

THE WAR web site contains a comprehensive Search and Explore database with more than 800 photographs; 200 primary source documents and artifacts; 100 videos including clips from THE WAR, historical footage, web exclusive interviews, home movies, and historic newsreels.

The Search and Explore section is designed so that students can download assets for projects, reports, blogs, web sites and multimedia presentations.  To facilitate use by students we have developed a Favorites tool that allows students to select videos, photos, and artifacts for an online “Favorites list”.  This list can be saved or e-mailed to a friend (or teacher).  Students can “name” their lists and write a brief description of the collection. 

The Power of Story »

PBS and Florentine Films have produced The Power of Story, a PDF handbook for student documentary production. The documentary process provides an excellent model for engaging students in seeking out and understanding history in their own communities while using the technologies that are part and parcel of their lives. This guide is written for students — to walk them through the nuts and bolts of making a documentary. It can easily be adapted for classroom use.

Other sections of this web site that may be of interest to teachers:

Infantryman of the 121st Infantry Regiment fighting near Hurtgen, Germany.  December 5, 1944.
National Archives
“The Second World War brought out the worst as well as the best in a generation, and I think it may also have reflected the last time the United States of America was truly united in one single purpose.”

- Ken Burns on THE WAR