Video: "Eyes on the Prize: Fighting Back: 1957-62;" Optional: copies of Student Handout 1: "Inside Elizabeth Ann Eckford;" and Student Handout 2: "In Their Own Words: Eyes on the Prize: Little Rock and Mississippi." (See sidebars, pages 54 and 55.)
1. Explain to students that you'll be asking them to do some writing based on the events depicted in the video they're about to view. They'll have the choice of writing interior monologues, stories, poems, dialogue (two-voice) poems, diary entries, or letters. Ask them to write down incidents during the video that they find especially sad, inspiring, or outrageous. They might write their impressions of particular characters or events. Urge them to "steal" lines from the narrator or people interviewed. They'll be able to incorporate these in their writing.
2. Show the video. Over the years I've supervised a number of student teachers in Portland schools. It's interesting to watch how some of them use video in the classroom. At least initially, their strategy is to wheel the VCR and television to the front of the classroom, turn it on, and go back to their desk to watch or grade papers. Needless to say, this does not always result in students' rapt attention and full comprehension. I'm an interventionist when it comes to showing videos. Particularly with documentaries, which often require more context setting, I sit by the television and stop it frequently to ask a question or point something out. I may rewind it to replay someone's comment or an especially poignant scene. At times, I stop it to ask students to wonder what might be going through a person's mind at a particular point or to anticipate how an individual or group will resolve a dilemma. I try not to overdo it, and I have to confess that, at least at first, some students are annoyed by this practice. They have years of video-watching practice—staring at the screen—and don't feel that they need someone butting in to ask questions and making them mentally "talk back" and evaluate underlying messages. Generally, we reach a kind of negotiated middle ground—somewhere between their desire to be left alone to enjoy or "veg out" and my desire to ask them to think about every last nuance.
3. Stop the video immediately after Elizabeth Eckford (one of the nine students chosen to desegregate Little Rock's Central High School) gets on the bus. Read aloud the dramatic account excerpted from NAACP leader Daisy Bates's The Long Shadow of Little Rock, included on page 54 as Student Handout 1, "Inside Elizabeth Ann Eckford."
4. Resume the video.