POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.

POV's lesson plans offer rigorous entry-points to the study of critical social issues.

  • A World Not Ours: Lesson Plan

    History is filled with examples of people displaced by edict, conflict and war, and there have always been questions about what should happen with such populations. Today, one of the most contentious debates over displaced persons is the one over the fate of Palestinians. Some believe that Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in the aftermath of World War II, guarantees Palestinians the right to return to land that they owned or lived on prior to the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. Others interpret the article differently. In this lesson, students will interpret the text of the declaration for themselves, and they'll do so having looked at the story from the perspective of a real family whose members were displaced.

    Video clips provided with this lesson are from A World Not Ours.

    POV offers a lending library of DVDs that you can borrow anytime during the school year — FOR FREE! Get started by joining our Community Network. 

    Grades: 9-13+
  • American Promise Lesson Plan: Code Switching

    In this lesson, students will practice writing, listening and discussion skills as they learn about "code switching" — who does it, when, where and why they do it and how it is problematic when it reinforces discrimination.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • POV | Up Heartbreak Hill: Factors in a Successful College Experience - Lesson Plan

    In this lesson from POV, students will watch video clips that provide glimpses into the lives of two high school seniors who live in New Mexico on the Navajo reservation. They will then analyze a current issue that Native Americans face (college completion) and will consider factors that might contribute to their own decisions either to enter or to complete college. Students will then explore different strategies that might be used to address this problem. The clips used in this lesson are from the film Up Heartbreak Hill, a documentary that follows two Navajo high school students during their senior year as they struggle with forming their identities, managing family relationships and making decisions about their futures.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • POV | The Barber of Birmingham: Exploring the Heroes of Social Justice Movements - Lesson Plan

    POV often presents stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media; stories like that of James Armstrong, a barber in Birmingham, Alabama, who was one of thousands of unknown and unsung heroes of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. In this lesson, students will identify and research participants in social justice movements or other types of movements or communities. Students will select images, quotes, pieces of art or videos to represent such figures and organize these items in walls or digital "pinboard" displays that will be presented to the class. This activity is inspired by a wall display in the barbershop of civil rights veteran James Armstrong, as seen in a clip from the documentary The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. For more information on James Armstrong, the civil rights movement and how to use digital "pinboards" in the classroom, please see the Resources sections of this lesson.

    Grades: 6-9, 13+
  • The Proverbial Activist: A Profile

    In this lesson, students explore the characteristics of an activist and how activism is sustained over time, despite obstacles and consequences, in order to effect societal change. They delve into the individual roles and qualities of active or potential activists and how they might, will and do effect change.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Blogging, Civic Engagement and the DREAM Act

    This multi-task lesson asks students to look at the DREAM Act in the context of immigration reform and also to reflect on blogging as civic engagement. They'll research the DREAM Act and use clips from the film Don't Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie), which features the experience of undocumented immigrant and blogger Angy Rivera, to look at the human side of this policy issue. 

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Why Is It Illegal to Sell People?: Examining Human Rights and Modern-Slavery

    This lesson plan uses the documentary film The Storm Makers to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the causes and consequences of human trafficking.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Building a New Foundation

    In this lesson, students examine common perceptions of immigrants and refugees with the goal of debunking them using the actual poignant stories and struggles of people who have left their homelands to resettle in very new places. Students revisit perceptions after delving into the journeys, challenges, dreams and goals of those who have left their countries to build better lives.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • War News in the Digital World: Real, Staged, or Both?

    With the wide availability of smartphones and easy ways to share video online, digital media has changed the way we see and hear about current events. When nearly everyone at a protest or in battle has a camera, the lines between journalism and other forms of storytelling are often blurred.

    Grades: 8-13+
  • Comparing Civil Wars

    It was a war between North and South in which racism and economic interests played major roles. That could, of course, describe the U.S. Civil War. It also describes the recent war in Sudan that led to the creation of South Sudan as a separate nation. A comparative analysis of these two wars—separated in time and place—provides an opportunity to deepen understanding of both conflicts.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Web Junkie | Investigating Internet Addiction - Lesson Plan

    This lesson uses the documentary film Web Junkie as a springboard for a project-based research exercise, assigning students to investigate whether Internet addiction is a problem in their community.

    Grades: 8-13+
  • Tea Time as Ritual

    In this lesson, students look at tea time rituals either from around the world or in their lives.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • News Writing, Target Audience and the Syrian Conflict

    In this activity, students will assume the role of a foreign correspondent, reporting on events in Syria for particular target audiences. By the end of the activity, they'll understand the role that target audience plays in how news is reported, and how their policy positions are influenced by that reporting.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Child Welfare and the Assessment of "Good Parenting"

    In this lesson, students examine what "good parenting" is and who can make that call, with an emphasis on child welfare agencies that decide whether children can remain with their parents. 

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Evaluating Political Arguments with Community-Based Evidence

    Using clips from The Overnighters, students will evaluate whether private charity can replace government welfare programs and would, ultimately, do a better job accomplishing the policy goal of alleviating poverty and suffering.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • The Role of Storytelling in the Justice System

    From "stand-your-ground" and "open carry" laws to police shootings and responses to bullying, the legal limits of self-defense have never been fuzzier. Sensationalized media reports further confuse and complicate the issues. Students' interpretations of the controversies have real-life consequences, especially for young people of color.

    This lesson uses media analysis, group discussion and persuasive writing to help students make sense of the legal reality. They'll sort through stereotypes and prejudices as they examine the role of storytelling in the legal system. This in-depth exploration will focus on a single case as it is presented in the documentary Out in the Night. The film looks at a 2006 case in which a group of young, low-income, African-American lesbians were accused of gang assault and attempted murder.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • 56 Up: Reality Media?

    In this lesson, students will use clips from 56 Up--the latest installment in one of the world's most famous documentary film series--to examine the differences between "reality" television and documentaries. The lesson will also provide an opportunity to engage in group discussion, read an informational text, write an opinion piece and practice source citation.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Best Kept Secret: Learning about Autism: A Service Learning Project

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 50 U.S. children is autistic. That means there are likely to be several children with autism in every school in the country. To address the integration of those children, this lesson involves older students in a service learning project to create an activity or piece of media that helps younger students learn about autism and, where relevant, their classmates. In addition to teaching about autism, the project offers students opportunities to practice research, writing, speaking, multimedia, organizational and time management skills.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The World Before Her: Contrasting Visions of Womanhood and the Future

    Across the globe, debates about "proper" roles for women are a focus of public debate. From violently enforced Taliban restrictions on girls' education, to mandated female political representation in Kenya's new constitution, to U.S. debates about how to deal with sexual assault in the military as women take on more combat roles, ideas about women's "proper" places in society are in flux.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • Ping Pong: Challenging Stereotypes: A New Look at Old Age

    As baby boomers transition into retirement and younger people are taxed to fund social security and services for the growing population of elderly people, intergenerational understanding is increasingly important. This lesson contributes to that understanding while also providing a writing opportunity that is especially appropriate for English language learners. In this lesson, students will use film clips from the documentaryPing Pong to examine stereotypes about senior citizens. As part of that examination, they will look at adjectives typically used to describe the elderly and write news stories reporting on the events they saw in the film clips.

    Grades: 8-10, 13+