Ballou High School Marching Band Documentary Lesson Plans

Author: Casey Callister
Lesson Plan:

Colin Powell, America’s Promise, and its Five Points

Age:                             High School, College
Goal:                             Students will analyze Ballou High School through the lens of the Five Point Initiative of America’s Promise
Objectives:                    Students will be able to:
·         Identify the 5 Points Initiatives of America’s Promise
·         Recognize the 5 Points Initiatives in the film
·         Apply the 5 Points Initiative of America’s Promise to make recommendations for schools to decrease dropout rates.
Materials:                      Film, Attachments A-G
Time:                            Three hours, or four 45 minute class periods
  1. Journal: Students react to the following statistic and question.
    1. Every twenty-six seconds a high school student drops out of school.
    2. Why? What do you think are some of the contributing factors? 
Main Learning Activity: 
  1. Use biography sheet to ensure that students are familiar with Colin Powell.
  2. Distribute the handout on the history of America’s Promise. (Attachment B-G)
  3. Divide the students into five groups. 
    1. Each group will receive and read a one-page description of one of the Five Points. These groups now become the expert groups on each point. ( Attachment A)
                                                               i.      They should be able to:
1.       Summarize the point.
2.       Use examples to show how it positively impacts youth.
  1. Form new groups with one student from each of the five groups in one new group. 
  2. Give the students ten minutes to share each of their points with the group. 
  3. Introduce the movie and their task.        
    1. Does the Ballou Senior High Marching Band fulfill the five points?
                                                               i.      Distribute handout. Students will tally and describe every time they observe one of the five points in action.
  1. Watch the film. 
  2. When the movie is complete, take initial responses from the movie.
    1. Steer the conversation away from, “It was good” or “I liked it” by posing questions: 
                                                               i.      Has this movie made you think differently about your education?
                                                             ii.      Which of the five points did you see the most? Or the least?
                                                            iii.      Which of the five points do you see the most in your school? Or the least?
                                                           iv.      Using one of the five points, suggest what schools (or our school) could do in order keep students in school. Be specific. (if you want the teachers to be more “fun”, describe what those “fun” things are: more games, more discussions, etc.)
  1. Enrichment: Either in groups or individually, have the students create a proposal indicating what they would like to be improved about their school in order to decrease dropout rates. (Before creating the proposal discuss with class what a letter should contain: date, addressee, opening statement, body, closing, signature, etc.)
    1. The letter should be addressed to the principal or superintendent. 
                                                               i.      If this is being used on a collegiate level, the students should choose to write their letter to their hometown schools, Ballou high school, closest school district to the college, or to the president of their college. 
    1. Each proposal should contain:
                                                               i.      One of the Five Initiatives that is working for the school
                                                             ii.      One reference to the movie
                                                            iii.      One of the Five Initiatives that they hope would be changed at their school and why.
                                                           iv.      Make suggestions as to how to improve on the weakest point.
1.    Does the Ballou band follow the criteria of America’s Promise?
2.    Does your school follow the criteria of America’s Promise? 

Attachment A
Every time you observe one of these promises being fulfilled, please write down what you saw. 
Promise 1: Caring Adults                                                                 Promise 2: Safe Space

Promise 5: Opportunities to

Help Others





Promise 3: A Healthy Start                                                Promise 4: An Effective Education                                                                   
Attachment B
Our History”
The America’s Promise Alliance grew out of the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future in 1997.  At that gathering in Philadelphia, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan) challenged America to make children and youth a national priority.
The Summit - which was also attended by nearly 30 governors, 100 mayors, 145 community delegations, and prominent business leaders - was sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service and United Way of America. These organizations were among the Founding Partners of the America’s Promise Alliance. Retired General Colin L. Powell became the Alliance’s Founding Chairman. Today, Alma Powell serves as Chair of the Alliance.
Since 1997, the America’s Promise Alliance has grown to become the nation’s largest multi-sector Alliance focused on the well-being of young people. Today, the Alliance encompasses more than 105 partner organizations representing the business community, nonprofits, communities and policymakers.
When Hurricane Katrina displaced millions from their homes in 2005, the Alliance launched Katrina’s Kids — an initiative that united local public and nonprofit sectors along with elected officials to ensure disadvantaged young people displaced by natural disasters receive the resources they need including the Five Promises.
In 2006, the Alliance launched First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization committed to making children and their families a priority.
Read the original Summit Declaration signed by the living presidents.
In 2007, the Alliance celebrated its 10th Anniversary, including an event attended by Presidents Bush and Clinton. To learn more about how that milestone was recognized, please visit the 10th Anniversary site.
Attachment C
Promise 1: Caring Adults
   All children need support and guidance from caring adults in their families, at schools and in their communities. These include ongoing, secure relationships with parents as well as formal and informal relationships with teachers, mentors, coaches, youth volunteers and neighbors.
Caring adults are the cornerstone of a child’s development — and for the other four Promises that build success both in childhood and adulthood. Parents come first. But children also need to experience the support from caring adults in all areas of their lives.
According to Every Child, Every Promise:
.        One-third of teens and 20% of younger children lack quality relationships with their parents
.        Only 8% of young people ages 6 to 17 have a formal mentor
.        More than 40% of young people ages 8-21 say they want more adults in their lives to whom they can turn for help
Attachment D
Promise 2: Safe Places
All children need to be physically and emotionally safe wherever they are — from the actual places of families, schools, neighborhoods and communities to the virtual places of media. They also need a healthy balance between structured, supervised activities and unstructured time.
It’s important for children to be safe. But safe places alone are not enough. It is equally important for children’s development that these places engage them actively and constructively.
According to Every Child, Every Promise:
·        Only 37% of children and youth experience this Promise
·        Between one-fourth and one-third of all young people “never” or only “sometimes” feel safe at school and in their communities
·        Only four in 10 young people participate in high-quality activities that teach them needed skills, how to form lasting relationships with others, and how to make big decisions
  • Less than half of parents of children under 18 say that affordable, high-quality after-school activities are available in their communities


Attachment E
Promise 3: A Healthy Start
All children need and deserve healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthful habits. These result from regular health check-ups and needed treatment, good nutrition and exercise, healthy skills and knowledge, and good role models of physical and psychological health.
With increased attention on such issues as upsurges in childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes, Americans have a raised awareness of the importance of a healthy start as a critical developmental resource in a child’s life. Nevertheless, we are falling far short of keeping this Promise. Nine million young people today remain without health insurance. Babies born in the U.S. are less likely to survive until their first birthday than those in 27 other industrialized nations. One in 11 high school students reports attempting suicide.
According to Every Child, Every Promise:
·        Only 43% of our young people are experiencing this Promise
·        More than one-third of teens lack the critical combination of components that make for good health care: health insurance coverage and annual visits to a doctor and a dentist
·        65% of young people say they wish they knew of more stores and restaurants that sold more healthy foods and drinks
·        Almost 80% of children report feeling stressed each month. One in four say they feel stressed at least once each day

Attachment F
Promise 4: An Effective Education
All children need the intellectual development, motivation and skills that equip them for successful work and lifelong learning. These result from having quality learning environments, challenging expectations and consistent guidance and mentoring.
The number-one predictor of whether you will be successful in life is whether you graduate from high school. In today’s competitive global economy, effective education is more important than ever before.
Yet more than 25% of our students do not finish high school. The figure is nearly twice as high for African American and Latino students.
According to Every Child, Every Promise:
·        Only 39% of our teens are receiving this Promise
·        More than 40% of parents of younger children and two-thirds of adolescents say their children’s schools do not emphasize academic achievement
  • 60% of 10- to 21-year-olds say their schools should give them more preparation for the real world

Attachment G
Promise 5 - Opportunities to Help Others
All children need the chance to make a difference in their families, at schools and in their communities. Knowing how to make a difference comes from having models of caring behavior, awareness of the needs of others, a sense of personal responsibility to contribute to the larger society, and opportunities for volunteering, leadership and service.
Providing young people with opportunities to make a difference through service instills not only a sense of responsibility but of possibility. Young people want to be involved in making the world a better place; however, far too many lack meaningful opportunities to contribute.
According to Every Child, Every Promise:
·        Nearly half of our children are not experiencing this Promise.
·        Half of parents of young people say they rarely discuss current events with their children
·        One-third of young people say they lack adult role models who volunteer and help others
  • 94 percent of young people want to help make the world a better place
Civil Rights
Age:                             High School, Middle School      
Goal:                             Students will learn about significant Civil Rights Movement leaders featured in the film “Ballou”
Objectives:                    Students will be able to:
·         Survey the Civil Rights Movement ( Attachment A)
·         Analyze speeches from Jesse Jackson and John Lewis
·         Hypothesize the role of these leaders in this film
Materials:                      Film, Attachments, Website Resources
Time:                            Three hours or four 45 minute class periods
  1. Verbal Brainstorm: What are civil rights? When was the Civil Rights Movement?
  2. Define key words: “right”
  3. Evaluate the Civil Rights Timeline 
Main Learning Activity: 
  1. Half of the students read the speech by John Lewis about Bloody Sunday; half of the students read the Jesse Jackson speech.
  2. Each half comes together to answer a set of questions. Each group should assign a facilitator, timekeeper, and a recorder.  
  3. Come back together, and form small groups of four students, with two people from the Lewis group and two people from the Jackson group. 
  4. Give the students seven minutes to teach each other about what they learned.
  5. Watch film.
  6. When the movie is complete, take initial responses from the movie.         
    1. Steer the conversation away from, “It was good” or “I liked it” by posing questions:
                                                               i.      Has this movie made you think differently about your education?
                                                             ii.      Is education a civil right?
                                                            iii.      Do you think the Civil Rights Movement has impacted the Ballou students?
  1. Written response: Why did the filmmaker choose include these two men (Jackson and Lewis) in the film? How their appearance in the film is relevant to the film’s subject?
  2. If time permits, read the following statement by filmmaker, Mike Patrei.
The celebrity interviews are in the documentary because they are politicians and individuals who are aware of the many issues and obstacles surrounding inner-city schools in this country. It was also important to have them in the film because of their celebrity status. The education of our children is one of the most important issues that this country faces and having the celebrity interviews in the documentary causes more people to pay attention and listen.
            After reading the statement, ask the following questions.
    1. Do you agree with the statement that more people pay attention and listen to celebrities? Why do you think that is?
    2. Do you think that celebrities should act as role models to young people? Why/why not?
    3. List a celebrity that you know of that promotes good things or serve as a role model. What do they do? (If you cannot think of one, who would you want to serve as your role model and what do you want them to say or do?)
Website Resources
John Lewis
·         Online Congressional Office
Jesse Jackson
·         Rainbow Push coalition:
·         American Rhetoric- 1984 Democratic National Convention 
In hopes of getting the Voting Rights Act passed, protesters marched from Selma to Montgomery. On this historic march, Bloody Sunday, March 7 1965, occurred. Bloody Sunday, the American version, happened when peaceful protesters crossed over the Edmund Pettmus Bridge and were met with violent police officers. 
This is John Lewis’ personal account of what happened. He begins his speech as they are walking of the Edmund Pettmus Bridge. 
Then I said, “Well there’s too much water down there. We’re not going to jump. We are not going back, we are going forward.” And we continued to walk. We came to the highest point on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Down below we saw a see of blue, Alabama State Troopers. We continued to walk.
We came within hearing distance of the state troopers and the man identified himself and said.” I am major [John clout]of the Alabama state troopers. This an unlawful march and you will not be allowed to continue. I give you three minutes to disperse and return to your church.” In less than a minute and a half, Major [John Cloaus] said. “Troopers advance”. 
We saw these men putting on these gas masks. They came toward us beating us with night sticks, bull whips, I was hit in the head by a trooper with a night stick. Had a concussion at the bridge. I thought I was going to die and I thought I saw death. And I don’t know how I made it across that bridge Sunday afternoon but I do recall being at the church. Later, I was hospitalized. 
Next morning, Monday morning march 8, Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy came by to see me. Dr. King said, “Don’t worry, John. We’ll make it from Selma to Montgomery. The Voting Rights Act will be passed” He told me he was making an appeal, issuing an appeal, a call for religious leaders to come to Selma.
Website resources: 
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail


This is an excerpt from Jesse Jackson’s speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 18, 1984. Mr. Jackson was the first African American to run for president in the Democratic primaries.   He did not receive the nomination, however. Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro were nominated. They lost to the incumbent Ronald Regan.
This is not a perfect party. We are not a perfect people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission: to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to house the homeless; to teach the illiterate; to provide jobs for the jobless; and to choose the human race over the nuclear race.
Our party is emerging from one of its most hard fought battles for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in our history. But our healthy competition should make us better, not bitter. We must use the insight, wisdom, and experience of the late Hubert Humphrey as a balm for the wounds in our Party, this nation, and the world. We must forgive each other, redeem each other, regroup, and move one. Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow -- red, yellow, brown, black and white -- and we're all precious in God's sight. America is not like a blanket -- one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt: many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread. The white, the Hispanic, the black, the Arab, the Jew, the woman, the native American, the small farmer, the businessperson, the environmentalist, the peace activist, the young, the old, the lesbian, the gay, and the disabled make up the American quilt. Even in our fractured state, all of us count and fit somewhere. We have proven that we can survive without each other. But we have not proven that we can win and make progress without each other. We must come together.
Democracy guarantees opportunity, not success.
Democracy guarantees the right to participate, not a license for either a majority or a minority to dominate.
The victory for the Rainbow Coalition in the Platform debates today was not whether we won or lost, but that we raised the right issues. We could afford to lose the vote; issues are non-negotiable. We could not afford to avoid raising the right questions. Our self-respect and our moral integrity were at stake. Our heads are perhaps bloody, but not bowed. Our back is straight. We can go home and face our people. Our vision is clear.
Our time has come. Our time has come. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint. Our time has come. Our faith, hope, and dreams will prevail. Our time has come. Weeping has endured for nights, but now joy cometh in the morning. Our time has come. No grave can hold our body down. Our time has come. No lie can live forever. Our time has come. We must leave racial battle ground and come to economic common ground and moral higher ground. America, our time has come. We come from disgrace to amazing grace. Our time has come. Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free and come November, there will be a change because our time has come.
Website resource:
The entire speech:
Attachment A
Civil Rights Movement:
A brief history
1954: Supreme Court overturns Plessy VS Ferguson and rules in favor of the desegregation of schools in Brown VS Board of Education. Year later, one of the attorneys arguing in favor of desegregation is Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American justice.
1955: Rosa Parks, a NAACP activist, refuses to give up her seat on a segregated bus. She is jailed. A young preacher, Martin Luther King, heads the Alabama bus boycott. King advocates a non-violent approach.
1956: 371 days later, the boycott has worked and the Montgomery buses becomes desegregated. 
1960: Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) forms and students protest by sitting lunch counters. 
1963: To test a new Supreme Court decision, young blacks and whites ride supposedly desegregated greyhounds buses. These are called the Freedom Rides. Jon Lewis is one of the people who are riding on those buses. Two months later, one of the buses are attacked and burned. 
1963: Martin Luther King delivers his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. John Lewis speaks on behalf of SNCC. 
1964: Malcolm X delivers “The Ballot or the Bullet” advocating the use of violence or force in order for black to gain voting rights. Months later, he is assassinated. 
1965: Protesters march from Selma to Montgomery for the Voting Rights Act.    Protesters are met with violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 
Voting Rights Act passed.
1968: Martin Luther King steps out of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. He is assassinated. Jesse Jackson is by his side when he is killed. 
1983:  Jesse Jackson runs for president 
1984: Jesse Jackson starts the Rainbow Coalition
1986:  Jon Lewis is elected to the House of Representative representing Atlanta’s fifth district. 
1988: Congress passes Civil Rights Restoration Act over President Reagan's veto.
1989: Gen. Colin Powell becomes first black to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
1989: L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia) becomes first black elected governor.
1990: President Bush vetoes a civil rights bill he says would impose quotas for employers; weaker bill passes muster in 1991.
1991: Civil rights museum opens at King Assassination site in Memphis.
1994: Byron De La Beckwith convicted of 1963 Medgar Evers assassination.
1995: Supreme Court rules that federal programs that use race as a categorical classification must have "compelling government interest" to do so.
1996: Supreme Court rules consideration of race in creating congressional districts is unconstitutional.
2002: Halle Berry becomes the first African-American woman to be awarded an Oscar for best actress in a leading role.
2007: Barack Obama enters the Democratic primaries to campaign for presidency.
2008: Barack Obama is first African American to win the Democratic nomination and the first        
African American to be elected President of the United States!
2009: Ballou SHS Marching Band is the first African-American band to perform in both the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the same year.
Proposing to improve your school 
Age:                             High School, Middle School      
Goal:                             Students will assess their school in comparison to Washington DC’s Ballou High School featured in the film “Ballou”
Objectives:                    Students will be able to:
·         Identify and list the attributes of a good school
·         Discuss the film and evaluate Ballou Senior High School
·         Evaluate their own school
·         Create a proposal of improving their school
Materials:                      Film, Attachments
Time:                            Three hours, or four 45 minute class periods
  1. Have students create an idea web individually. What makes a good school? See attachment A. 
  2. Have students share their webs with a partner. 
  3. Have two students draw their webs on the board.   As those students are mapping out their webs, ask other students to share out loud the qualities they put on their web.
  4. The teacher should also create his or her own web, highlighting some of the things the students might not think about (ex: high test scores, great pay for teachers).
  5. Before showing the movie, give students a brief introduction to the film. Explain to the students the reason for watching the film: to create a proposal to improve their own school.
Main Learning Activity:
  1. Inform the students that, during the movie, they will fill out a handout that will help them with their proposal. See attachment B.
  2. Distribute handout, and watch the movie. (The film is a one and half hours long).
  3. When the movie is complete, take initial responses from the movie.         
    1. Steer the conversation away from, “It was good” or “I liked it” by posing questions:
                                                               i.      Did anything in the movie make you question the Ballou students’ education? Or your education?
                                                             ii.      What teaching techniques did you see Mr. Watson or the other leaders use?
                                                            iii.      Has this movie made you think differently about your education?
  1. Either in groups or individually, have the students create a proposal indicating what they would like to be improved about their school. (Before creating the proposal discuss with class what a letter should contain: date, addressee, opening statement, body, closing, signature, etc.)
    1. The letter should be addressed to the principal or superintendent. 
    2. Each proposal should contain:
                                                             v.      One compliment of the school
                                                           vi.      One reference to the movie
                                                          vii.      One thing they hope would be changed at their school
  1. Have the students review their webs to see if there would be anything else they would want to add, and add as necessary. 
  2. Students can either journal or discuss the following questions:
a.      Has this film made you think differently about your school and the adults in your life?
b.      What is one thing you could do to improve your school?
Attachment A
What makes a good school?
Create an idea web of 8 qualities of a great school. 






Attachment B
In this movie, you will see a school in Washington, DC. Washington’s public schools have always had a negative reputation. Watch the movie, as if you were a school observer. Imagine, the movie is your tour of the school. While watching this film, record every detail you see that is positive and negative about Ballou Senior High School.
            Positive Qualities                                                                       Negative Qualities