The documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, is still in theaters on the big screen, but is already sold in DVD format, as well. Whether on the big screen or small screen the documentary is rated R because of its graphic violence. Preview it first. Be sure that it is appropriate for your students, and if necessary gain parental permission to show it. You may have time to show the entire documentary, about an hour and forty minutes. Even if you can’t give up that much class time for the whole film, the DVD format will make it easy to show smaller portions from the documentary. Use these segments in conjunction with other WW 1 teaching materials.
For example, the film footage of Britain mobilizing for the war would be very effective with a lesson on the British propaganda posters used to recruit soldiers to the cause. The Imperial War Museum has an excellent online collection. Your students could analyze these posters, as they listen to soldiers from the film telling us why they signed up.
A lot of experiences of World War 1 are left out of the documentary, as Jackson notes in his discussion of how he made the film. Teachers need lessons on these varied people and events, too. That said, 100 years after the Armistice ending World War 1, They Shall Not Grow Old is an excellent resource for teachers. It is a film that will bring The Great War into our 21st century classrooms like no other.