With Columbus Day coming-up, I thought I’d quickly put together a “The Best…” list of the resources I’ve used to help my English Language Learner students learn about Christopher Columbus.
Unfortunately, most sites about Columbus that are designed for student self-access pretty much relate the typical story that most of us have learned in school — they certainly don’t encourage any critical thinking by bringing in perspectives held by many Native Americans that aren’t quite as laudatory. So, in addition to including those accessible online sites, I’ll also be sharing some online resources that I’ve used to bring in alternative perspectives to the classroom.
In addition to using the sites listed in this blog post, you might also want to visit my United States History Class blog where I have a series of Columbus activities for my students (that include some of the links listed below).
Here are my picks for The Best Online Resources About Christopher Columbus (not in order of preference):
Brainpop Jr. has a very accessible animated film on Columbus Day. Unfortunately, you have to subscribe in order to view it.
The BBC has a narrated animated biography of Columbus on its “Famous People” site. Just click on Columbus.
The History Channel has a series of video excerpts from its programs on Columbus, including historical re-creations. Click on the thumbnail images on the right.
Here’s an activity designed by Renee Maufroid for ELL’s about Columbus.
Here’s another online exercise for ELL’s — it’s a simple cloze (gap-fill).
Test your knowledge about Columbus in this game.
ESL Holiday Lessons has a Columbus Day Lesson.
Take a Christopher Columbus quiz.
There is a new Brainpop movie on Columbus. Brainpop is available by subscription only (and it’s worth the price), but you can also get a free trial.
How Stuff Works has many short videos about Columbus.
Here are some resources I’ve used to raise questions about the typical portrayal of Columbus and provoke critical thinking and discussion:
The Wikipedia entry on Columbus Day shares different perspectives in the section Opposition To Columbus Day.
This is a simple lesson plan developed by an elementary school teacher called Columbus Day (Native American Perspective).
EL Civics’ Columbus Day Lesson is a good one. Not only is it accessible to English Language Learners, it at least touches upon his negative impact on Native Americans.
Is Columbus Day Sailing Off the Calendar? is an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on the changing perceptions about Columbus Day. It’s not really accessible to English Language Learners, but excerpts could be modified.
Top 10 Things You Should Know About Columbus comes from TIME Magazine.
It’s Columbus Day…Time to Break the Silence is by Bill Bigelow at Rethinking Schools.
Should Columbus Day Become Exploration Day is from Discovery News.
How Columbus Day Fell Victim to Its Own Success is from The Atlantic.
Why Do We Celebrate Columbus Day is a CBS News video:
You can also find these links on my website under Early Settlers Of America.