Spike Lee and HBO's epic documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, is the centerpiece of a new curriculum package that will be available this fall for high school, college and community educators. The documentary, for which Lee and Sam Pollard recently won the 2006 George Polk Award for Documentary Television, will be accompanied by a multi-disciplinary curriculum guide, "Teaching The Levees: A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement to Accompany the HBO Documentary Film Event," published and distributed by Teachers College Press.

Available free to educators, thanks to a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the curriculum package, which includes a complete version of the documentary in a two-disk DVD set and a complementary curriculum guide, can be requested at www.teachingthelevees.com while supplies last.

Lee's documentary, which debuted on HBO in August 2006, chronicles the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic conditions who endured the harrowing ordeal of living in New Orleans during and after the levees were breached. Through eyewitness accounts and expert commentary, the four-part documentary tells the saga of one of the greatest natural disasters experienced by any region of the country and the failure at all levels of government to respond adequately to the tragedy.

The curriculum was developed by faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"Our schools, colleges and communities often avoid discussions of the complex societal issues of race and class that are raised in Spike Lee's landmark documentary," said Margaret Smith Crocco, When the Levees Broke project leader and professor of social studies and education at Teachers College. "Now, through this groundbreaking documentary and the supporting curriculum guide, educators can stimulate dialogue about these tough issues and help students answer such questions as: 'What kind of a country are we? What kind of a country do we want to be?'"

The curriculum includes individual chapters on history, media literacy, civics, economics and geography. In addition, the guide provides resources, such as a detailed timeline of the unfolding of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, as well as a map of the New Orleans levee system. Each lesson includes thought-provoking discussion questions connected to the stories in the documentary that will help students explore "why" and "how" this tragedy happened, and examine their reactions to the devastating chain of events.

The lessons are aimed at three audiences: high school social studies students, college students in history-related courses, and adult learners in civic, religious and community groups. The documentary, When the Levees Broke, was rated TV-14 when it was aired by HBO; the curriculum is intended for 11th and 12th grade high school students, college students and adults.

The content of the curriculum can be used in ways that are consistent with national high school social studies standards and can be easily integrated into existing curricula. In addition, resources to support the use of the curriculum - including media content, supplementary educational materials, venues for community sharing and online professional development materials - are available to educators, students and community leaders from the When the Levees Broke Web site (www.teachingthelevees.com). The When the Levees Broke package will be available for use during the 2007-2008 school year.

When the Levees Broke is a collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University, the Rockefeller Foundation and HBO Documentary Films.

Dont't forget to also check out: When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts