Issues/ Trends: Films to Use

Though a short list, these films, either in whole, or in part, help bring media into your classroom that you can use to help teach your Social Studies lessons.

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb

This movie is a classic within the High School classroom. Great for teaching modern U.S. history, and foreign policy through the Cold War, and the idea of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction.’ Take a look at a lesson plan for Dr. Strangelove, here.


Truly another classic, both on screen, and for use inside a High School classroom. Midway tells the story of the American and Japanese fight over the tiny island. Only a short six months since the attack on Pearl Harbor, the battle of Midway was a pivotal one in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Take a look at a lesson plan for Midway, here.


Glory, is a fantastic movie that helps illustrate the tribulations of the Civil War, but more importantly it follows the creation of the 54th  Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts. What makes that notable, is that the 54th Volunteer Regiment is one of the first official African-American units in the United States Army. Take a look at a lesson plan for Gloryhere.


Though this movie is not the most historically accurate, that is still ok. The story it tells is a good one, and it the skill of discerning fact from fiction, is an important skill to learn for a student. The movie itself takes the viewer from the Selma riots, the friendship of MLK and LBJ, and the FBI surveillance of King. Take a look at a lesson plan for Selma, here.


Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda, tells the story of the genocide that occurred in the country in 1994. The movie itself primarily focuses on the actions of a Rwandan man to save the lives of over a thousand people from being murdered during the genocide. This movie can also be paired with, Sometimes in April.  lesson plan for Hotel Rwanda, here.

Some other films to consider, especially in conjunction with the book, or specific scenes to illustrate certain events:

Black Hawk Down

The Patriot


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Book Thief

Band of Brothers Series

The Pacific Series

Saving Private Ryan