Friday, May 2, 2008

Free Videos from C-SPAN

In an election year, it might seem like enriching resources for civics, government or social studies classes are easy to find and use. But do you have the couple of TiVos and extra hours needed to search, edit, download and prepare videos for class tomorrow? Middle school teachers looking for online resources can find great ones, almost all of them free, through C-SPAN, cable TV's non-profit public-affairs service. Katie Ash in Education Week's Digital Directions reports on the C-SPAN Classroom website which offers free video clips and standards-based resources to educators.

The available videos at C-SPAN Classroom are culled from C-SPAN programming, ranging from Washington Monthly's call-in show to Senate and House footage and international events. The videos and resources come in six categories: principles of government, the U.S. Constitution, the legislative branch, the judicial branch, and political participation. If you are registered, you can view and download the video clips for free to use as you wish in your classrooms. A sample page provides links to some 2006 video clips to give you an idea of what can be available. Another great feature is the ratings system -- teachers can rate videos and direct each other to particularly well-done or powerful clips.

Once you're registered, you get other benefits. In addition to access to C-SPAN's video database, you have access to:
  • classroom resources linked to national civics and government standards including discussion questions, worksheets, quizzes, and graphic organizers, most teacher-created
  • free classroom posters
  • email updates
  • eligibility for contests and C-SPAN's Teacher Fellowship
  • access to a toll-free hotline for educators who have questions about using C-SPAN resources.
Though many of the resources are aimed at high school, middle schoolers can definitely benefit, especially during this election year, from a closer look at how government functions. It makes civic participation about real people. Plus, some middle schoolers would probably love to compare and contrast the somewhat formal and often-empty Senate chambers to the usually raucous Prime Minister's Questions in the British House of Commons.

SOURCE: "Top Picks: Go-To Sites for Educators" 5/1/08
SOURCE: "C-SPAN Classroom: Benefits of Registering" 5/1/08
photo: screencapture of the C-SPAN Classroom page

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