Brief Description of the Site:
Based on Joy Hakim's critically acclaimed book this PBS television series come with a remarkable web site to study American history. The site follows the series sequence and is divided into "Webisodes". Access to the book and the series would be nice but not essential as this resource has material for study an interesting multimedia presentation. What makes this site a "must" is the age level it addresses Ã the middle school to high school population. Here is history that's understandable while maintaining integrity by avoiding oversimplification. Webisodes are further broken down into segments following historical events. There's a link to the Teachers Guide originally developed by Johns Hopkins University with lesson plans created for the book before the existence of the television series. Hundreds of pages of those plans alone are more than any educator can successfully use in one year. The PBS web site, however, is much more fun, interactive, and easier to use for both student and teacher. Students can explore on their own using the Research Tools (on the right) or Images links (always on the left). Uniformity of presentation makes for ease of site navigation which is helpful in a site this comprehensive. Audio clips are entertaining, and look for the slamming jail door audio link and the crowd reactions. Students might even enjoy the gruesome (but not too gruesome) details of life at Valley Forge as told in a doctor's diary.
How to use the site:
"See It Now", "Hear It Now" and "Check the Source" icons appear on the right of each webisode page and students will go right to those because they are entertaining, so teachers may not want to let on that it's also educational. The Timeline, Glossary, Image Browser, Quiz and Additional Resources are all part of the series remaining within the History of US site for a self-contained web resource. The structure of the site that allows students to remaining within it is efficient use of student time. (Getting lost on the web through links that take students outside a given site is not helpful, and History Of US successfully avoids this pitfall.)
The toolbar at the top allows choice of webisodes through a pull down menu. Below that are the icons for choosing different segments within each webisode. Text follows with links within the site. There is also a search tool within the site that offers some interesting site navigation options. Well thought out, informative, detailed, and presented with great graphics, audio and a good sense of humor, this site will be well received by students who use it. If you catch the series on PBS, taping for use in the classroom might be of interest. Check PBS listings in your local area for the schedule of when the series will air.