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The Best Movies to Show in Your High School History Class

· education,classroom,students,teacher,William Doonan

As mentioned in my previous post, movies can be a great tool to incorporate into your classroom. When selecting a movie you have to find a balance between entertainment and historical accuracy. There can be some deceiving films that may appear to be historical, but hold little to no accuracy. The following films are both engaging and informative for any high school history class.

The Crucible

The Crucible is inspired by the Salem witchcraft trials. Although the witchcraft trials are typically a footnote in history classes, the film can be a useful tool in discussing what life early colonial life was like in the early days of America.

Schnidler’s List

Schnidler’s List analyzes the human impact of the Holocaust. The film recounts the true story of Oskar Schindler, who used his wealth and influence to save more than one thousand Jewish workers. The film serves a reminder of the atrocities of WWII and those who had the courage to stand up for what was right.

Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda follows the heroic actions of Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, a Hutu who manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines. Paul provides shelter to Tutsi refugees in the midst of the Rwandan Genocide. Not only does the film shed light on genocide, but looks at political corruptions and the repercussions of violence.


Lincoln may be one the most accurate depictions of Abraham Lincoln. The film focuses on the trials and tribulations that Lincoln encountered in wake of the Civil War. Not only does the movie offer valuable information in regards to one of the most renown presidents, but provides information on how ideas become laws.

The Fog of War

Unlike the other films on this list, The Fog of War is us a documentary. The film showcases an in-depth conversation with Robert McNamara. Robert McNamara became the Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, after serving under General Curtis LeMay.

Throughout the interview, McNamara sheds light on military decisions and the motivation behind these decisions. Many of the issues discussed in the film are sure to spark classroom discussion after.

Using a visual medium as a teaching tool can help keep your students engaged and excited to engage in a discussion with their classmates. No matter which film you decide to show, all of the mentioned films have great talking points and will help get your class excited about history.

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