Tuesday, October 4, 2011

5 Places to Find and Watch Documentaries Online

Quality documentary videos can provide students with useful explanations or demonstrations of concepts. Unfortunately, documentary dvds can be expensive acquisitions for some school departments. Here are five places where you can find and watch documentaries for free online.

Snag Learning offers access to hundreds of high quality documentary videos. Snag Learning categorizes documentaries by grade level and content area. Additionally, Snag Learning offers a series of guiding questions for each film. You can embed previews of each video into your blog, but you have to watch the full-length versions on Snag Learning.

Explore.org produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by destination. There are twelve destinations in all including China, Tibet, the Middle East, and India. Explore.org is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation.

Documentary Heaven is a free site that has organized more than 1600 documentary films found across the Internet. Through Documentary Heaven can find documentaries covering all kinds of topics in science, history, politics, business, and many more categories. The videos are sourced from a variety of services including, but not limited to, YouTube.

Folk Streams is a good website featuring documentary films of American life. Visitors to Folk Streams will find films about various demographic segments of the population as well as films about regions of the country. The films are produced by independent directors and come from a variety of distributors. Most of the films appear to be between thirty and sixty minutes in length although there are some films outside of that range. Visitors to Folk Streams can search by region, subject, title, filmmaker, or distributor.

Top Documentary Films is a catalog of documentaries gathered from across the web. Top Documentary Films doesn't actually host the videos rather it serves as a directory of documentaries. Each documentary includes a screen image, a summary, and either an embedded video or a link to the source where you can watch the film for free.

Simple Actions to Improve the World - Action Tracker

All over the world there are classrooms with all kinds of behavior charts on display. Some of those charts are for academic behaviors while others are for personal conduct. We Are What We Do offers a behavior tracker of a slightly different nature. We Are What We Do's Action Tracker is a list of simple actions that anyone can do to make the world a better place. The Action Tracker offers suggestions for improving the environment, making someone else's day better, or improving your personal health. You can check in on the Action Tracker to mark your behaviors.

Applications for Education
We Are What We Do offers a classroom section that includes many resources for implementing the Action Tracker in your classroom. The classroom section includes videos, downloadable charts, and worksheets for classroom use. The video below offers an overview of the We Are What We Do Action Tracker.

Ptable - An Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

I've previously shared some resources for helping students learn the Periodic Table of Elements. This morning, through David Kapuler, I learned of another resource that could help students learn the Periodic Table.

Ptable is an interactive Periodic Table of Elements. Place your mouse pointer over an element to access the basic information about it. Click on an element to open the Wikipedia article about that element. The article opens within a dialogue box withing Ptable.

Applications for Education
Ptable is not going to revolutionize the way that students learn the Periodic Table, but it is another example of making academic information more accessible than in the past. Students don't need to lug around a big chemistry text when they can simply access resources like Ptable to get much of the same information from their Internet-connected devices.