Please feel free to share your video discoveries in the comments section. Thanks to Marc for the great World History list and for the inspiration for this post.
Awhile ago, I had the opportunity to read Marc Valentine’s blog post, Top 5 Cheap Videos for AP World on APWorldGuru@blogspot. While I use iTunes regularly at home, for some reason I hadn’t thought to look there for films to use in the classroom. So after playing around a little bit, I thought I would post a U.S. History version of Marc’s blog. I tend to show clips from films rather than the whole thing, but it’s always nice to own your own copy even if you’re just using part of the film. I would recommend reading Marc’s post on his ideas on using film effectively in the classroom.
Criteria for the list:
1. Inexpensive (so that if you don’t like the video, you only pay less than 5 dollars)
2. Entertaining (so that your students do not fight with the sandman during your class)
3. Educational (because if you are going to use valuable classroom time, it better be worth it!)
1. American Experience (PBS)
I’ve gotten good student responses from this series. You have the choice of a free streaming version or prices that range from $1.99 – $3.99 on iTunes. You can stream many of the full episodes or clips for free at the American Experience website. If you want to purchase the videos to avoid issues that can arise with streaming, iTunes has many episodes available. Certain episodes are also available on Netflix Instant Streaming. The episode that my students have repeatedly found riveting is Surviving the Dust Bowl. (Note: there is at least one potentially disturbing animal scene.) Another bonus of this series that all of the specific episodes I have looked up on the PBS website provide lesson plans.
2. The West Wing (NBC)
I have shown clips and full episodes from this series on the White House in my classroom. In particular, I show an episode from season 3 called Isaac and Ishmael when studying 9/11 or the War on Terror. Written and filmed within 2 weeks as a response to 9/11, you can read more about this specific episode here. Episodes of this series are $1.99 on iTunes.
3. Iconoclasts (The Sundance Channel)
This is a show where famous individuals interview each other. I have used the episode Dave Chapelle + Maya Angelou when teaching the Civil Rights movement. While I do not show the episode in its entirety (there is some content that I feel is inappropriate for my students), there is a segment I like to show where they discuss Malcolm X. Chapelle also asks Maya about the multiple assassinations of the ’60s, which is something my students often ask about. Dr. Angelou gives an interesting answer that can lead to some great discussion. The segment I use is found at 16:07 – 20:48. I am currently watching the available episodes on Netflix instant streaming for more possibilities. If you teach about Hurricain Katrina, there is an episode with Cameron Diaz + Cameron Sinclair that discusses rebuilding in the aftermath years later. If you teach World History, Archbishop Desmond Tutu + Sir Richard Branson has some good things on South Africa. Episodes of this series are $1.99 on iTunes. You can also currently find Iconoclasts: Season 4 on Netflix Instant Streaming. This includes Diaz + Sinclair and Tutu + Branson.
4. Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (Travel Channel)
I would love to teach a history through food class. If you’re looking for a little bit of a different take on things, No Reservations is a way to incorporate this revealing part of American daily life into your class. There are episodes on Cleveland, Puerto Rico, the Mexico-U.S. Boarder, the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles, New York, Disappearing Manhattan, Into the Fire NY, Husdon Vally, NY, South Carolina, New Orleans, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Chicago, Maine, the Heartland, the Rustbelt, San Francisco, Montana, and more. You can find the North American episodes listed on the No Reservations website. Bourdain mixes food, history and culture to create unconventional portraits of the area he’s visiting. You need to be aware that his topics of conversation may not always be appropriate for your students, so preview carefully. Two colleagues of mine suggested Vietnam: The Central Highlands when studying the Vietnam conflict. Episodes of this series are $1.99 on iTunes and you can also find many episodes on Netflix Instant Streaming.
5. Frontline (PBS)
The news series is good for understanding current events. There are a myriad of topics including Hurricane Katrina, U.S. – Iran relations, health care, the economic crisis, presidents and their decisions, current wars, and much more. There are also some great options for World History. Episodes of this series are $1.99 on iTunes and you can also view many of them on Netflix Instant Streaming or for free at the Frontline website. Some of the episodes will also have teacher guides.