Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!

Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we are continuing to reach out to our community with tips and ideas for consuming media with kids! We know that screen time has increased and so we’re here to help. Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to selected programs for younger and older viewers, with related activities and resources.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!

Weekly Zoom Meet-ups
Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
Students Grades 3+ can join us for a weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the week’s theme and engage in some hands-on learning led by a Paley Educator. Parents and teachers are welcome to join as well!

For connection details, please RSVP to
What We're Watching: Election Day

Election Day is tomorrow but, because of early voting in many states, over 93 million people have already cast their ballots. The United States is on track toward the highest voter turnout in years. To say 2020 elections—presidential, state, and local—are important is a tremendous understatement and so we thought this was a great opportunity to highlight two excellent documentaries that pull back the curtain to show the nitty gritty reality of political campaigns in America. While it’s critical for civics to be year-round conversation for families, it couldn’t be more topical this week. Last, but certainly not least, if you are of age, don’t forget to vote!

This Week's Recommendations for Younger Viewers

Knock Down the House (2019), directed by Rachel Lears
Recommended for Grades 5+
Available to stream on Netflix

This documentary follows the action of the progressive wave that swept through the 2018 midterm election cycle, including a spotlight on now Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. It offers an enlightening behind-the-scenes look at how grassroots progressive campaigns get off the ground and unfold by focusing on the primary process.

Viewing Questions

  • Describe what is happening to the political landscape in 2018.
  • What do you notice about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez? What kind of candidate is she?
  • What do you learn about the grassroots organizations like Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress? How does learning about these kinds of organizations help you understand the election process in the United States?
  • What kind of campaign strategies do we see AOC and others implementing? What seems the most effective? Why? 
  • What do you notice about Paula Jean Swearengin? What kind of candidate is she?
  • What do you notice about Cori Bush? What kind of candidate is she?
  • What do you notice about Amy Vilela? What kind of candidate is she?
  • What is your biggest takeaway from the film? What do you want to know more about?
This Week's Recommendations for Older Viewers

The War Room (1993), directed by Chris Hegedus, D. A. Pennebaker
Recommended for Grades 10+
Available to stream on HBOMax

This documentary follows the 1992 presidential campaign of The Comeback Kid himself, Bill Clinton. Pennebaker and Hegedus have incredible access to the closed doors campaign strategies and discussions that take place on the trail.

Viewing Questions
  • What do you notice about Bill Clinton? What kind of candidate is he?
  • What do you notice about his campaign staff? What are their concerns?
  • What stands out most about the behind-the-scenes conversations that happen on the campaign trail? How is it different from what is said to the press? How is it different from what is said to the public?
  • What strategies do we see the campaign implementing? What seems the most effective?
  • What do you notice about the Bush campaign? What are their concerns?
  • How do you think politics has changed since 1992? How is it the same?
  • What is your biggest takeaway from the film? What do you want to know more about?
Extension Activity

Get involved! Check out this list of ways kids can get involved in politics, even when they’re too young to vote!

Additional Resources


March: Book Three, by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis


All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020)
Ann Richards’ Texas (2012)
Black-ish: “40 Acres and a Vote” (2016)
Black-ish: “Election Special” (2020)
Boys State (2020)
The Simpsons: “Lisa’s Substitute” (1991)
Street Fight (2005)
Wag the Dog (1997)


Slow Burn: Season 1 and Season 2

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs
Photos—Knock Down the House: Netflix; The War Room: Everett Collection​
Support The Paley Center for Media

We hope this inspires you to watch and learn together in a new way at home! The Paley Center is here for you and, now more than ever before, we would deeply appreciate your support. Please consider making a donation: