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HomeClassroom ResourcesCalendar Activities

February 20

Actor Sidney Poitier was born in 1924.

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Actor Sidney Poitier was born in 1924.

Grades 3 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event





Sidney Poitier was one of the first African Americans to win critical acclaim and awards for his acting performances, most notably in films such as In the Heat of the Night, Lilies of the Field, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. In addition to acting, Poitier has also worked in the film industry as a producer, writer, and director.




In her acceptance speech for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2003, Halle Berry acknowledged the work of other African American actors and actresses, including Sidney Poitier. Discuss with students the importance of Poitier's role in bringing equality to African American actors, especially in the 1950s,1960s, and 1970s.

Through the years, many barriers have been broken-barriers of age, race, and gender, to name a few. Ask students to write in their journals about any barriers that might impede them in the future (e.g., language, class, disability), and about how they can break through those barriers now. Should students desire it, these journal pieces could be made public in the form of letters to the school or local newspaper or some other format.



  • American Masters: Sidney Poitier

    This PBS website offers biographical information, an interview, film clips, and other information about Poitier's life and career.


  • Biography of Sidney Poitier

    In 1995, Poitier was honored by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for his contributions to film. This page offers information about Poitier's life and career.


  • 1964: Poitier breaks new ground with Oscar win

    The BBC offers the text of a 1964 report on Poitier's historic Oscar win, along with contextual information. Also included is an audio clip of Poitier discussing acting.


  • Oscar Winner Sidney Poitier

    This resource from National Public Radio includes an April 2000 audio interview with Sidney Poitier from the Fresh Air radio program. In the interview Poitier discusses his role in In the Heat of the Night, as well as personal life experiences.



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Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Biography Project: Research and Class Presentation

Classroom biography study offers high-interest reading with a purpose, as students begin with inquiry and research, summarize and organize their information, and prepare oral presentations to share with the class.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Literature Circle Roles Reframed: Reading as a Film Crew

Capture students' enthusiasm for film and transfer it to reading and literature by substituting film production roles for the traditional literature circle roles.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Lights, Camera, Action...Music: Critiquing Films Using Sight and Sound

Movie music and magic set the scene for this lesson in which students analyze a scene from Good Morning, Vietnam and then create a scene of their own.


Grades   11 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A Poem of Possibilities: Thinking about the Future

After reading John Updike's "Ex-Basketball Player," students write poems describing themselves five years in the future. The teacher takes the poems and mails them to students in five years.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Critical Discussion of Social Issues

Through a series of picture book read-alouds, students engage in critical discussion of complex issues of race, class, and gender.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Unlocking the Underlying Symbolism and Themes of a Dramatic Work

This lesson plan invites students to consider characters from Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Students explore a selected character and write poems about objects associated with that character.