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Share My Lesson, the Weinstein Company Award Free Movie Screenings to Classrooms Across the Country
2/11/2014 9:04:52 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - Share My Lesson, the nation's fastest-growing online site for free teaching resources, and the Weinstein Company, an independent American film studio, awarded three educators with free tickets to take their class of 30 students and parents to see the Oscar-nominated film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Share My Lesson, a joint venture of the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, posted lesson plans and other materials about former prisoner and South African President Nelson Mandela to coincide with the release of the movie. The lessons plans, which are also aligned to the Common Core State Standards, are available for educators, parents and other registered users, free of charge, at www.sharemylesson.com/mandela.

This past November, AFT President Randi Weingarten and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, screened and discussed reactions to the film with thousands of high school students in Los Angeles and New York City. "The message of this great man and his incredible life should not be lost on this generation," Weingarten said. "Film can be a phenomenal educational tool, and this film touches on the universal themes of fear, oppression, hope, reconciliation and forgiveness."

Educators in New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., were selected at random from among educators across the country after downloading the free classroom resources aligned to the Nelson Mandela biopic that opened nationwide on Dec. 25, 2013.

For Inwood Intermediate School 52's eighth-grade math teacher Jose Vilson, taking his students to see the film planted a seed in them to understand the world outside of their Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. "By taking my students to see the film, I was able to emphasize that Mandela's struggle for equal rights and eventual ascension had serious effects in this country, which include their right to sit in classrooms and have access to education regardless of skin color, religion or sexual orientation," Vilson stated.

Baltimore fourth-grade teacher Jacqueline Jones, of Mary E. Rodman Elementary School, decided to invite her students' parents to view the film, given the mature nature of the film's content. "I work in a Title I school, so disposable income for my students' families is limited," said Jones. "My students will learn from these lessons what it means to have perseverance, determination, patience and the ability to respond gracefully to adverse situations."

School librarian Sarah Elwell, of McKinley Technology Education Campus in Washington, D.C., believed the experience was invaluable for her students. "Seeing this movie allowed my students to learn about a modern hero in a time when role models and revolutionaries are rare," said Elwell. "They have begun to develop a global and historical perspective, with a critical gaze, making connections between South African blacks' freedom fighting and the fight for freedom and equal rights for blacks here in the United States. My hope is for them to share the experience with their peers."

Share My Lesson is the country's fastest-growing resource sharing site for educators. The AFT aims to reclaim the promise of public education by ensuring teachers and school staff are well-prepared, supported and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.

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