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History & Social Studies Come Alive Courtesy Of YouTube

May 11, 2009
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Movies have come to be an effective and engaging way to teach history across all school-going age groups.  They innocuously trigger discussions on historical events, and kindle interest in delving deeper. Whether a mainstream Hollywood movie, a documentary or an enactment (authentic recreations of a period through sets and costumes), films almost always create more a powerful “story” of a people or a time, than printed words in a history textbook.



Thankfully for our kids, and us, we have access to a goldmine that goes by the name of YouTube.

For almost every topic covered in the social studies and history curriculum in K-12, chances are YouTube has a video created by a reasonably credible source (although that itself may be the subject of a healthy debate, perhaps as part of a social studies unit on biases and points of view) such as BBC, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and others. The newly launched Youtube Movies channel with its ever-growing collection is also an asset for educators of any ilk.

These videos serve as an excellent supplement to – and in some cases a reasonable substitute for – the traditional history textbook. The audio-visual medium of films and movies almost always guarantees a higher level of of engagement in the learner, and as such, creates the perfect backdrop for better learning and understanding of a topic.

Here is a sampling of some videos in no particular order (Note that (1) many are links to the first of a multi-part series of videos, and (2) Some may be in violation of copyright and may end up being removed by YouTube)–

If you are a homeschooling parent, YouTube is probably already a handy site and constant companion in your efforts, and we’d love for you to share your comments and/or links to other great videos on YouTube.



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  1. John Sowash 

    I have found YouTube to be a treasure trove for science related content as well. Whenever I teach a complex concept such as cellular respiration, DNA replication, or protein synthesis I always look on YouTube for a video. After teaching the process, I show the video and it really helps bring the concept alive. Seeing it happen is much better than reading about it!

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