Using Archival Film in the Classroom

According to the National Teacher Training Institute, moving images help students retain information, understand concepts, and build connections between the classroom and the world around them. They also provide entry points for visual learners and opportunities to develop critical viewing and problem solving skills. Here are some suggested strategies for incorporating the TAMI Video Library into your classroom.

Before Class

  • Select and preview video from TAMI’s online library by conducting a search or browsing collections,
  • Create a lesson plan incorporating the film that aligns with your instructional goals and objectives. Include a previewing activity, a viewing activity, and a culminating activity.
  • Review TAMI's Guide to Moving Image Genres, for information about the films genre and tips on how to describe genre in the classroom.
  • Make sure the video can be accessed on the classroom computer. If you are having problems accessing the site, please contact your school’s technology department or TAMI at

During Class

Before Viewing

  • Introduce the film to the students with the previewing activity, relating it to their prior knowledge, the content you are studying, and the purpose of viewing the film. It may be helpful to have students create KWLA charts outlining “What I Know,” “What I What To Know,” “What I Learned,” and “How Does this Apply to me?”. Have them complete the first two areas before viewing, the third during viewing and the fourth after viewing. 
  • Provide a cultural context for the footage. Watching archival film requires students to use media literacy skills to determine the original purpose of the film versus its use in a classroom setting. How might the film have been received at the time of its production? What factors influenced the reception? How might it be received differently today? TAMI suggests having students analyze films using the STAC’D method of primary source film analysis examining what they See, telling how they Feel, examining Audience and Clues and Deciding the source and context. The SOAPPS-tone method which examines Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Point of View, Speaker and Tone of primary documents can be helpful in helping students to situate footage within its larger historical context.
  • Discuss the genre of film you will be watching. What are newsreels, home movies, advertisements, industrial films, etc.? How do they provide different information? See the TAMI's Guide to Moving Image Genres,
  • Explore the information given about the film on the TAMI online library, including the statistics, dates, locations, and information “about the video” as well as any available transcripts, additional materials, or “Highlights.”

During Viewing

  • Use the pause button or view the “Highlights" section to allow opportunities for clarifications, questions, and discussions. 
  • Use a viewing activity to keep students focused on the content of the film that is relevant to the lesson.

After Viewing

  • Review and discuss the relevant content of the film.
  • Use a follow-up activity to gauge students' reception of the film and provide an opportunity to relate their viewing experience to key concepts and objectives.
  • Encourage students to contribute to TAMI’s website by commenting with information they may have discovered during viewing or classroom research.


Each resource contains information on how and why to use film and video resources in the classroom.

National Teacher Training Institute. “NTTI Video Utilization Strategies.” Thirteen Ed Online, n.d. 2 July, 2009.

Paris, Matthew J. Integrating Film and Television into Social Studies Instruction. Bloomington, IL: ERIC Clearing House for Social Studies/Social Science Education. (ERIC document reproduction service No ED415177).

Russell, William B., III. Using Film in the Social Studies. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.