Top Education Documentaries and Resources for Teachers & Students

education documentary

An occupation in education can be a gratifying experience. Shaping the minds of the future requires skill, expertise, and quality teaching materials to keep yourself and your students motivated all year long. Ensure you keep the energy high by introducing new worksheets and other great materials into the classroom from this collection of documentaries and online resources.

A great documentary stays with you long after the final credits roll just, prodding you to push for change.

Educational websites and documentaries generate debate and discussion.

Documentaries can inspire a whole new generation of films with education themes. Some are purely philosophical, while some pose uncomfortable questions.

Here are documentaries and resources that inspire outrage, hope, passion, and ideas.


10 Incredible Documentaries about Education

1. If You Build It

What happens when two activists take their non-profit design firm to one of the poorest rural counties in North Carolina and challenge 10 teens to complete a year-long full-scale building project?

It turns out that the teens design more than just the structure. They learn how to design their own futures, too, gaining skills and the ability to give back to their community.

No screenings are currently scheduled, though a crowdsourcing campaign that gains a commitment of as few as 65 tickets, will let you bring the film to your community.

2. Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm

Bio-hackers and cyber-lawyers, philosophers and researchers come together to ponder one question: Is society headed toward a new era of collaboration? If so, how do we face the changes and prepare for the future.

The documentary was one of the first to tackle the topic of what’s possible if we truly are headed toward a Global Age of Collaboration. It’s a thought-provoking film that appeals to teachers and students as much as it does to corporate leaders.

Visit the Collaborative Society’s web site to arrange a screening.

3. Big Dream

“Big Dream” is more than a documentary. It’s also a movement backed by Microsoft and other leading businesses that want to break down barriers women face in technical professions.

The film examines the lives of seven young women, scattered from America’s Midwest to the Middle East. Their common bond is their determination to work in STEM fields no matter how many hurdles they face. “There’s no greater pleasure in life than doing something people say you can’t do,” one of the film’s stars said.

Visit the Big Dream web site to schedule a screening.

4. A Year at Mission Hill

This 10-part series chronicles a year at one of America’s most successful public schools, a kindergarten through eighth-grade campus in Massachusetts.

Filmmakers talked to teachers, families, and students about both their successes and frustrations. The episodes are designed to spark a national conversation about the state of public education in the country, both as it exists and as it should be.

All 10 episodes are available online.

5. Best-Kept Secret

Everyone warned Janet Mino that there was no place for her students with autism to go other than “off the cliff” when they aged out of her program at age 21. Mino refused to believe it.

This PBS documentary keys on Mino’s work with three students at JFK High School in Newark, N.J., and her conviction that they have greater potential than many recognize. The film looks at the challenges the students face beyond school and their struggle for services and support after graduation.

The documentary is available for purchase for home or educational use.

6. Waiting for Superman

Follows promising young students as they work through a school system that does not support their potential. See more information on Waiting for Superman.

7. The Lottery

Entrance to one of the finest schools in New York City is determined by a lottery selection, proving any student can succeed. See more information on The Lottery .

8. American Teacher

Explores teachers’ points of view on their careers and the challenges they face every day. See more information on American Teacher.

9. 2 Million Minutes

A four-part series that explores students from the United States, India, and China as they work toward higher education. See more information on 2 Million Minutes.

10. The Pact

A provocative story of the “Three Doctors” who made a pact in their youth to help each other through challenges and reach their dreams. See more information on The Pact.


9 Online Resources for Teachers

1. Scholastic’s Top Websites for Teachers

Scholastic has always been a great asset for teachers. Aside from providing books for children of all ages to learn from, they've also included a list of 25 of the best websites for teachers. Daily starters, virtual field trips, interactive whiteboard help, and other useful sites are included among this list. Find your favorites to help you shape the minds of the future!

2. What the Teacher Wants Blog

On What the Teacher Wants, whether its math or language arts, you will find several advice pieces and worksheets to help you teach elementary education. Learning packets and other resources can help you improve your lesson plans in the classroom, especially in an era that requires technology to help you inspire students of all ages.

3. Free Technology for Teachers

This website offers several types of technology you can incorporate into your classroom. Everything from iPad apps, creating videos, making interactive quizzes, and designing online quizzes can be found on Free Technology for Teachers. Take a moment to browse this site and find things you can add to your own learning environment.

4. The US Department of Education

This source may be a no-brainer, but it's often forgotten about. The US Department of Education provides data, press releases, and the latest information about the educational field nationwide. Check this source frequently to find out everything you need to know about current issues or changes in education, and update your current lesson plans to new requirements.

5. Books for Teachers

7 Books Every Education Major Should Read by Teaching Degree inspires teachers all over the world. This list includes funny and relatable stories from real teacher experiences, practical education advice, creative strategies you can use in your classroom, and much more. Check out this list to hear support from fellow educators and stay motivated in your dream career.

6. Best-Selling Education Books in 2016 from The New York Times

The New York Times provides a list of the best-selling education books in 2016. Famous titles include I Am Malala and The Opposite of Loneliness on the list of the top 10 books, along with other books that can help you see things from a different perspective and learn how to fully engage students of all types, helping you reach every student in a diverse classroom.

7. NPR's Education Section

Stay up-to-date and understand recent changes in the education field by reading articles and listening to interviews on NPR's Education section. Here, you'll find incredible resources and information about education across the nation to keep you well aware of any updates or policy changes.

8. Podcasts for Teachers

The Cornerstone for Teachers offers a list of 12 podcasts for teachers to listen to. You're sure to find a podcast you love from this list of highly informative talks with educators who are leading innovations in the field.

9. Exploring and Choosing an Education Career offers several different resources to help you begin or continue your career in the field of education. Here, you can find connections to real teachers, experiences that others have overcome, and even an interactive tool to help you decide what you want to teach and how you can get started.


Always a Student

Whether you’re still earning your degree in education or well into your career, these resources are sure to motivate and inspire you. Everything from relatable teaching materials to inspirational podcasts can change the way you approach students, giving them the wide scope of knowledge they deserve.


These documentaries and online resources are a great way to spend an hour or two  to stay on top of the current trends in teaching and ensure students of all ages can relate and be inspired.


Written by Ashford University staff

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