History Making Productions’ documentaries have been used successfully in primary and secondary school classrooms, and in university undergraduate and graduate lectures and seminars. Social studies teachers and professors of American history, urban history, Philadelphia history, and African American history find that our compelling and well-researched films heighten student interest and understanding.

 

Our films cover key themes and eras of American history, including Native American society and culture, European settlement, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, abolitionism and Civil Rights of the 19th century, early feminism, World War II, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and Urban Renewal. HMP seeks to portray Philadelphia history in a holistic manner, drawing on the stories of both ordinary and extraordinary people, many of whom have been left out of the conventional historical narrative. Although each episode and webisode is meant to stand alone, there are salient themes that pervade our work: intergroup conflict and cooperation, the built environment, the African American experience, and Philadelphia as a city characterized by innovation and reinvention.

 

In addition to the films themselves, we have developed an extensive inventory of easily accessible educational materials. For Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, we provide a menu of possible activities and lessons to be used before, during, and after viewing the episodes.

 

Before materials include attention grabbing “hooks” to stimulate student interest (usually in PowerPoint form), essential questions, and vocabulary lists. Watch-along note taking sheets and suggested pause points are provided for during the episode. Most importantly, there are follow-up activities for after the episode—discussion questions, webisode-based lessons, graphic organizers, quiz questions, and always at least one primary source based lesson. The materials are highly adaptable and “a la carte,” thus they have been implemented with elementary through university students.

 

Educational packets with brief, user-friendly teaching guides can be downloaded from the Classroom section of this website. Teacher Materials include concise lesson ideas and answer keys; Student Materials contain vocabulary lists, note-taking sheets, graphic organizers, and primary sources that can be distributed to students to complete the suggested activities.

For each film, you will find a document highlighting connections to the School District of Philadelphia’s 4th, 5th and 8th grade social studies and high school American and African American history curricula. Additionally, relevant Common Core standards are listed at the bottom of the lesson plans found in the Teacher Educational Materials.

 

The Cecil’s People trilogy depicts three different aspects of the Girard College protests—a movement led by attorney and activist, Cecil B. Moore, and aimed at integrating a school for “fatherless white boys,” located in the heart of a black neighborhood in North Philadelphia. We have provided a “webquest” utilizing the website, {Civil Rights in a Northern City} {http://northerncity.library.temple.edu/exhibits/show/civil-rights-in-a-northern-cit/people-and-places/girard-college}. The webquest utilizes the website’s essays, time-lines, and voluminous, varied primary sources to provide both background and enrichment to enhance the viewing of the films.

Urban Trinity educational materials include overarching essential questions and a primary source activity about the 19th century “Bible Riots.” There is also a guide to other films and webisodes within the HMP collection that touch on aspects of the Philadelphia Catholic experience.  

 

HMP’s Director of Education, Amy Cohen, is an accomplished and highly regarded twenty-year veteran of classroom teaching. Her extensive experience has demonstrated how valuable documentary film can be as a teaching tool. Cohen’s strategy for creating and building the inventory of teaching resources to be used in support of Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, Urban Trinity, and Cecil’s People has been to develop packets of materials for teachers to use before, during, and after viewing the episodes. Before materials include attention grabbing “hooks” to stimulate student interest, essential questions, and vocabulary lists. Watch-along note taking sheets and suggested pause points are provided for during the episode. Most importantly, there are follow-up activities for after the episode—discussion questions, webisode-based lessons, hands-on activities, and always at least one primary source based lesson.

 

Please direct all communication about classroom materials to Amy at amyc@historymakingproductions.com. She is available to do professional development sessions with teachers and professors.

Teachers have been enthusiastic about the quality of the films we produce and the outstanding resources that Amy Cohen has developed for the classroom.

 

“History Making Productions’ films on Philadelphia history have provided my students with a much-needed perspective that they rarely receive.  From the history textbooks, students get the usual humdrum information.  Philadelphia: The Great Experiment makes history come to life with a more specific and intimate detail of what Philadelphia was like during these unique times.”

Nicole Roper

History Department Chair

West Catholic Preparatory School

 

“History Making Productions has brought Philadelphia's past to life.  The city’s history has long been an ignored history in our national consciousness.  This film series is making people across the country aware of the importance of Philadelphia to our country's historic narrative.  It also is an excellent companion to primary sources used in the classroom.” 

Samuel Neuman

Social Studies Teacher

Central High School

 

“History Making Productions is a blessing for teaching a Philadelphia History elective...the film and materials functioned as a text for the class in the post-Civil War period. I also use materials and short videos to highlight topics in US History.  Several students used the short videos and materials as part of their National History Day research. Often the videos piqued student interest in a topic they might not otherwise have chosen (e.g. the Waterworks and Octavius Catto).”

 Margaret Guerra

Upper School History
Abington Friends School

 

“I have incorporated these films into my U.S. and African-American classrooms.  The videos have helped students see how national trends played out in their own city, reinforcing what was learned.  The curriculum materials were fabulous and provided excellent ideas for enhancing student learning.  The lessons provide pre-learning suggestions, including vocabulary and questions to prepare students to watch the video.   The questions, graphic organizers, and other tools can be used to enhance discussion after the video.  Their materials stimulate other activities that help students develop higher level thinking skills and ensure that they are rigorously engaged.  I have personally seen my students’ interest peaked through the videos and curriculum provided.  As I plan for next year I will incorporate more of the videos and lessons after seeing the student engagement and higher level thinking that occurred in the classroom.”

Jim Peterson

Saul High School

Classroom

History Making Productions

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Tel: 267.324.5381