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Free Resources: Spike Lee HBO Hurricane Katrina Documentary and Curriculum

Posted Apr 14, 2007
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A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation will make Spike Lee's HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary and a companion curriculum available at no cost for use by high school, college and community educators.

The full-length documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," won the 2006 George Polk Award for Documentary Television for Spike Lee and the film's producer and editor, Sam Pollard. The documentary was rated TV-14 when it was aired by HBO.

The film presents the experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic conditions living in New Orleans during the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. The four-part documentary tells the story of one of the greatest natural disasters experienced in this country and the failure at all levels of government to respond adequately to the tragedy.

The free curriculum package includes the complete documentary in a two-disk DVD set and a multi-disciplinary curriculum guide titled "Teaching the Levees: A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement to Accompany the HBO Documentary Film Event." The curriculum was developed by faculty members at Columbia University's Teachers College.

The curriculum provides individual chapters on history, media literacy, civics, economics and geography. To help students explore the tragedy, each lesson offers discussion questions connected to the stories in the documentary. The guide also features resources such as a detailed timeline of the hurricane and its aftermath and a map of the New Orleans levee system.

Educators can sign up online now at to receive a copy of the documentary and curriculum. The package, available in late summer 2007, will be offered as long as supplies last.

The program is a collaboration of The Rockefeller Foundation, HBO Documentary Films and Teachers College Press.

Teaching the Levees,

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