Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ken Burns In the Classroom

Ken Burns has become synonymous with historical documentaries. No wonder, given he's been writing, directing, producing, and filming them for over 40 years. During his tenure and along with his collaborators, he has produced 36 films, most of which have aired on PBS, where you can also access them to stream online.

For teachers, this is a goldmine given he is the master of weaving together primary sources and archival footage.

PBS has set up a whole website dedicated to Ken Burns in the Classroom. There, you can search by film, era, topic, grade level, subject, and keyword to build your lesson plans.  Filtered searches can then lead you to videos, interactive, interactive lessons, lesson plans, audio, images, documents, webpages, and resource galleries that integrate with all of PBS's resources. 

The Ken Burns in the Classroom website also links you to the Ken Burns UNUM website, an extension digital world curated by Ken Burns in 2018 to build further connections. "Unum" comes from the United States motto: "E Pluribus Unum" which means "out of many One." His reasoning for both the name and the website--to create a visual history of a united shared history, even in divisive times. 
The goal is to remain impartial while layering together clips from past histories with the present day conceptual stories to see the greater meaning. Likewise, the intent is to help us return to civics education and civility.

UNUM is arranged by Featured content*, UNUM Shorts, Themes, Events, UNUM Voices, People, AP US History Themes, War, Places, Times, Conversations, and Opportunities from their Partners. Likewise there is a section for educators.

If ever you are looking for historical online resources, you may want to tuck this bookmarked page where you can find it!

*At time of writing, the Featured content includes his Facebook Live conversations in December 2021 with political historian, author, and professor Heather Cox Richardson.

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