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 number of Columbus activities.
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. 10 Things You May Not Know About Christopher Columbus is also from The History Channel.
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.
How Columbus Day Fell Victim to Its Own Success is from The Atlantic.
Here’s a great critical infographic on him from The Oatmeal.
Columbus Activities from The Zinn Education Project.
The New York Times Learning Network has a number of Columbus lessons.
Christopher Columbus: 3 things you think he did that he didn’t is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.
Here’s an online Columbus game.
How the Media Would Have Covered Columbus’s Discovery of the New World is from New York Magazine.
How We Discovered That Christopher Columbus Didn’t Get to America First is from The Pacific Standard.
Columbus Day: ‘How is this still a thing?’ is from The Washington Post.
Why canceling school for Columbus Day is a terrible idea is also from Vox.
Here’s an engaging interactive on his voyage.
— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) October 12, 2014
Here’s a TED-Ed video. You can find the entire lesson here…
Columbus Day and the Native American School-Achievement Gap is from The Atlantic.
Reconsider Columbus Day is from Teaching Tolerance.
Time to Abolish Columbus Day is from The Zinn Education Project.
Saint Paul’s First Indigenous Peoples’ Day Recognized at SPPS
Forget Columbus Day. What if we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day? is from Fusion.
In Defense of Columbus Day is from Latino Rebels.
More cities are recognizing Native Americans on Columbus Day is from The Associated Press.
Rethinking History Class on Columbus Day is from The Atlantic.
Columbus Day: Some Love It, Others Not So Much is from Voice of America – Learning English.
More Schools Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples Day is from Ed Week.
The Columbus Day Problem is from Usable Knowledge at Harvard.
Un-Columbus Day is from The Teaching Channel.
Why Italian-Americans Still Fiercely Defend Columbus Day is from the NY Times.
Should Columbus Day Be Replaced With Indigenous Peoples Day? is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Question #ColumbusDay tomorrow in your class with poetry: Ask students about Frost's vision of America then analyze how Alvarez responds. Use the poems as mentor texts for Ss to respond to Frost or Alvarez with their own poem about America #DisruptTexts #TeachLivingPoets #engchat pic.twitter.com/qP9vkbPiDd
— Scott Bayer (@Lyricalswordz) October 7, 2018
— Dr. Debbie Reese (@debreese) October 13, 2018
Columbus is in my standards but I wanted to focus on ways he could’ve interacted with the people there already.
“If I landed in a new place and found people already there, I would….” pic.twitter.com/PG96xEl9YI
— Nia (@Readsbyaja) October 8, 2018
Today and every day, we must remember the indigenous people who were here long before us and the suffering they've endured — and continue to endure to this day. Let’s celebrate their strength and honor the contributions they’ve made to our nation. https://t.co/1ZWBGbWgVr
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 8, 2018
— Daniella Zalcman (@dzalcman) October 8, 2018