This section highlights several videos as examples of how ideas about democracy are made more salient through interactions with media – culminating in “The Democracy Kit” episode. By no means an exhaustive list, we hope the critical questions (below) fuel discussions about the potential of media as an integral part of teaching and learning around the issues encountered in the Teaching the Levees curriculum. We will be adding multimedia to this site throughout the year, and welcome your contributions on the discussion board.

Student Voices: New Orleans, LA

Student VoicesThe spotlight here is on students’ experiences. High school students from New York City traveled 1,300 miles to spend seven days gutting a school decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Teaching the Levees Project Manager Maureen Grolnick participated in this community renovation project, and she captured haunting images and poignant interviews with students. How does a combination of media and the devastated environment shape these students’ perspectives on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Produced by Maureen Grolnick; editors, Joachim Castellano and Chris Pressler; music, Josh Anderson. Funding by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Student Voices: Brooklyn, NY

Student Voices BrooklynThis video highlights teachers’ perspectives and addresses the question, "How do we teach Democracy?" Two New York City history teachers discuss their approach to "igniting a certain fire" within their students to motivate and challenge them to expand their definition of democracy.

Sean Burke introduces the topic of natural disasters to frame the government’s responsibilities to its people. During the class discussion, students discuss their personal experiences with natural disasters and what possible political ramifications they may have. Sherien Sultan discusses her use of technology as a motivation and instructional tool in her classroom. She integrates blogs, video, and wikis into her instruction to expand her student’s knowledge of democracy outside the classroom, increase motivation, and stay on task during class. According to Sean and Sherien, how can new technologies be used in powerful ways in the classroom setting?

Produced by Skye MacLeod; music, Josh Anderson. Funding by The Rockefeller Foundation.

The Democracy Kit

Democracy KitThe Democracy Kit was created by a team of educators and video producers at EdLab  to provide citizens with an outlet for directly responding to media. Here the Kit is on tour on the streets of New York, with a student group in New Orleans, and at EdLab’s Edit Jam.

The Kit consisted of a laptop loaded with documentary videos that represented various political views, and a built-in camera that recorded participants’ reactions and comments. On the street, and at the Edit Jam event, the Kit served as a focal point for responding to media and the ideas that the media represented. How does technology, and the user’s ability to interact with it, shape the experience and meaning of media?

Produced by Skye MacLeod and Joachim Castellano; supervising editor, Brian Hughes; editors, Skye MacLeod and Chris Pressler; music, Josh Anderson; production assistants, Pablo Oliva and Juan Torres; documentary photographs, FEMA. Funding by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Levees TrailerWhen the Levees Broke (Trailer)

This is an interview with director Spike Lee and excerpts from the film. Spike Lee describes his motivation for creating this documentary film, and expresses his hope for its impact. The clip includes excerpts from the film, and a stunning look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Produced by HBO.





Community Voices: “After Katrina”

After KatrinaIn conjunction with the Teaching the Levees curriculum, this community dialogue is part of a series of Socratic Conversations hosted by Teachers College. As a public conversation to discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this highly-participatory event was moderated by Ronald Gross, author of Socrates’ Way and Co-chair of the University Seminar on Innovation in Education. Questions were explored: What have you learned about America, from the New Orleans experience? What kind of nation is this, and what kind do we want it to be? What should we expect of government? What is the role of race and class? What are the uses (and possible mis-uses) of spirituality, religion, resilience and hope in such disaster situations?

Supervising editor Joachim Castellano; editor Naoko Kiyosawa; documentary photographs, FEMA. Funding by The Rockefeller Foundation and The Gottesman Libraries.

The Merrow Report

Merrow ReportJohn Merrow, Special Correspondent for Education for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on  PBS, reports on the challenges of revamping the public education system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. More than 100 of New Orleans’ 128 public schools have been damaged by the hurricane and flooding, leading to a state takeover of the district. Educators and students share their views on the difficulties of getting basic supplies, repairing damaged buildings, staffing the schools, and getting rid of rat infestation problems.

This report was produced by Learning Matters with the support of its funders, the Annenberg Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.



Story of the Levees



Teaching the Levees is a collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University, The Rockefeller Foundation, HBO Documentary Films, Teachers College Press, and the EdLab