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American Experience

posted on September 14, 2012

American Experience

American Experience is a fantastic documentary series that analyzes the people and events that have shaped America. The robust website allows you to watch full films online, download teacher guides, and go behind the scenes to enrich your students' learning.

Though the primary focus of American Experience is on American history, the webiste offers tons of additional cross-curricular resources, whether you're wanting to tie your science curriculum to the the environmental movement or looking for ways to engage your students to interpret and write about historical events, there is something for everone. In fact, there is so much content available online, that it can often be difficult to find resources if you are just starting out in your search. To help you find relevant resources quickly and easily, however, IPTV has aggregated a wide-ranging list to help you get started with the site. Once you feel comfortable with this, we encourage to start exploring on your own and share what you find with us.

Navigation of the Site

all films

All Films Tab: One of the best features to check out on the American Experience website is the 'All Films" tab. This tab brings up all of the films ever produced by the series. You can narrow your search field by subject area, time period, or alphabetically by clicking one of the tabs on the left column. So, for example, if you were looking for resources dealing with the Great Depression, you can click on the "Time Period" button and search for films from 1931-1940.

With this search feature, not only can you watch full episodes of a number of these films, but by clicking on any film, you can find tons of special features, including additional interviews, photo galleries, links to other resources, suggested books or websites, and other relevant films.

Special Features Tab: Browse hundreds of articles, audio clips, images, interactives, maps, and teacher resources through the "Special Features" tab.  This is a great way to enrich your lesson with content and material you may not find on a broadcast program.

Suggested Resources and Films to Explore

The Presidents: In this award-winning collection, American Experience offers 33 hours of streaming documentaries on eight 20th-Century American presidents. Also, read biographies of every U.S. President, and browse original interviews, articles, photo galleries, timelines, and extensive teacher guides.

Surviving the Dust Bowl: The story of farmers who came to the Southern Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas dreamt of prosperity and had to live through ten years of drought, dust, disease and death. Watch the full program online, find teacher resources, and additional articles online

Wild West Collection: The Wild West Collection features documentaries about some of the most controversial and mythic figures in American western history.

  • Custer’s Last Stand: Like everything else about General George Custer, his martyrdom was shrouded in controversy and contradictions. The final act of his larger-than-life career played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. In the end, his death would launch one of the greatest myths in American history. Watch the full film, explore the interactive map, find photos and timelines, and experience a different side of the American West.
  • Billy the Kid: A fascinating look at the myth and the man behind it, who, in just a few short years transformed himself from a skinny orphan boy to the most feared man in the West and an enduring western icon.
  • Jesse James: America's Robin Hood who robbed not only the rich but the poor and defenseless as well, always saving the treasure for himself.
  • Annie Oakley: As the star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Annie Oakley thrilled audiences around the world with her shooting feats.

Freedom Riders: A courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South. The website allows you to explore issues, interact with the timeline, learn more about the individuals, and watch the full film online.

The Panama Canal: On August 15th, 1914, the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world’s two largest oceans and signaling America’s emergence as a global superpower. American ingenuity and innovation had succeeded where, just a few years earlier, the French had failed disastrously. But the U.S. paid a price for victory. Watch the film online, and find some great interactives on how locks work, documents and images on the construction of the canal, and more.

Additional Resources

American Experience on PBS LearningMedia: If you're looking for contextualized learning objects, PBS LearningMedia may be a solution for you. Find hundreds of purpose-built learnig objects on a range of topics and subjects that revolve around American Experience videos and resources.

YouTube Channel: Find hundreds of preview clips, behind the scenes interviews, and un-aired footage through the American Experience YouTube channel.


Tags: american experience American history civil rights documentaries education educators history Language and Literacy media Native Americans president Social Studies students teachers timeline video

Subjects: Social Studies

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