Today’s history class is a much different place than when I was in school. Back in the day, it was commonplace to find a teacher drawing battle formations on a transparency of Europe while adjusting the focus on their old circa-1992 projector. Now, new classroom technologies and free resources like YouTube have allowed teachers to say “buh-bye” to those old transparencies and “hello” to engaging and humorous lessons.
Although YouTube is full of awesome social studies-themed channels, we’ve narrowed down our Top 5. Take a look at the list below.
1. Crash Course
For fast-talking, comprehensive, and animated social studies lectures full of “Dad” jokes, look no further than Crash Course. The whole channel has a wide range of topics, and students ranging from middle to high school can benefit from this channel. While high school students can use these resources as supplements to study for their Advanced Placement exams, middle school students can get a kick out of the antics carried out by YA novelist, John Green—and that’s coming from personal experience. My seventh grade U.S. History students, and ninth grade Global History students nearly bowled over when they watched John complete a cinnamon challenge as part of his video on the Columbian Exchange.
Bonus: The courses are all written by John Green’s high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and include topics such as:
- U.S. History
- World History
Plus, there are many English, Science, and Health courses—so share the knowledge of this channel with your colleagues!
Ever thought you would love to be a music video star? The teachers at the History Teachers YouTube channel are living the dream! They have created a plethora of music videos, all with rewritten lyrics to focus on history topics. They are funny, informative, and factually correct. My students’ favorite is the one about King Henry VIII’s torrid love life with many wives, which was set to ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money.” They continued to sing it for days until I told them I would sing them Justin Bieber songs over and over until they stopped.
All created, written, and edited by history teacher Keith Hughes, these videos give engaging and comprehensive overviews of various topics in U.S. History and Government (although, he has a few things that relate to Global History).
They are best used as a supplement outside of school for your classroom, though I would want Mr. Hughes to be my history teacher if I could—his lecture style, complete with lots of jokes, is very fun.
Love The History Channel and using their clips in class? (Every history teacher worth their salt has used “America: the Story of Us” or “Mankind: the Story of All of Us” in their class.) This YouTube channel allows you to take snippets and clips from their numerous shows and use them in your classroom. If you go to the History Channel website, you can find further resources to guide your lessons with students.
Meant to make history funny, Horrible Histories was created for BBC to tell the hilarious missteps of history. If you are looking for Monty Python-esque skits on historical topics that are a tad more factual than that of the crew, look no further. These clips can work great as additions to instruction or as conversation starters for students.
To Learn More…
To learn more about using technology to supplement your social studies classroom, check out the Teq Online PD Course Library for courses with a social studies focus. We offer courses on many social studies topics, including enhancing geography in the social studies classroom, Digital DBQs in the social studies classroom, and using Google Earth to compliment your social studies instruction.
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