Now that’s a mouthful for a blog post headline, isn’t it?

Originally, I was going to call it “The Best Non-Textbook Companion Sites For News & History Videos That Won’t Get Blocked By Content Filters (At Least, Not By Ours!),” but I just couldn’t bring myself to type that long of a title.

I really have no idea how web content filters work, and they often appear to me to have no rhyme or reason to them.  Happily, our school district’s technology department goes the extra mile to cooperate with different online projects I’m involved with.  Even with that, though, I’m careful not to go “to the well” too many times. Often, instead of pursuing the unblocking of specific sites, I just find similar ones that – for one reason or another — get through the content filter.

A lot of online video is blocked because it’s “streaming media”  (like CNN, for example).  I’ve been able to find a lot of good sites, though, that have all the online video my classes need, and that are accessible through our school computers.  I don’t know if that has something to do with how the video is formatted or hosted, or is just due to the idiosyncrasies of our content filter.

I’m assuming that not all content filters work the same, so don’t know if this list will be helpful to many people. It will, however, be helpful to me (and to other teachers at our school and in our district) to have all these links in one place.

Often, though, I prefer slideshows for my English Language Learner students. People speak at a very fast speed (for ELL’s) on online video and few have closed-captions. I’ll be publishing another “The Best…” list (if not more than one) related to the best sites for slideshows. In the meantime, though, you can find links to many slideshows on current events on my website under Multimedia Resources From News Outlets.

The sites on this list particularly provide short videos in somewhat accessible English.

I’m also not including online video that is available from textbook companion sites. These get through our content filters fine.  You can find many of them listed in these two lists:

The Best social studies websites 2007

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2008

In this list, you’ll find that I provide more than one link to some of the same videos.  The reason for this is because I’ve found that some of these same videos are blocked on other sites, and thought that readers might experience the same problem and want multiple sources to try.  These links are also not shared in order of preference.

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For News & History Videos That Don’t Get Blocked By Content Filters (At Least, Not By Ours!):


MSNBC (which offers subtitles on ALL it’s videos)

Video From The New York Times

Wall Street Journal Video Center

The Guardian Video (United Kingdom)

Videos From The Boston Globe

San Francisco Chronicle Videos

Reuters News Videos (Reuters videos, and videos from other sources, are also available from and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia)

Associated Press Videos from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and from The Los Angeles Times.

Voice of America Video.


The PBS News Hour has redesigned their show, and website. As a result, their online videos are both better and more accessible.


National Geographic News Videos

Videos From The History Channel

Videos From How Stuff Works

The Biography Channel

National Geographic Channel

Smithsonian Channel


Critical Past is a new site that has 57,000 “historic” videos from 1893 to the 1990’s — many of them appear to be old newsreels. It seems to be designed to sell them for download, but anyone can view them online for free. It has a very nice search feature.

Awesome Stories is a great resource for accessible text, animations and videos, and is featured on several of my “The Best…” lists. It seems like they’ve really beefed-up their impressive video collection.

There’s one site that doesn’t quite fit into either of these two categories.   The United States State Department has an exceptional site that hosts many videos about the United States that are accessible (and closed-captioned) to English Language Learners.  It’s called Telling America’s Story Videos.

Earth-Touch is an organization in South Africa that films some amazing nature-related video, and shares them freely on their website. They’re pretty neat. Thought it doesn’t quite fit into this list, I’m still adding it here.

Snag Learning has many high-quality online documentaries.

Editors Room is a new site from AOL. It brings together a zillion embeddable videos from different sources, including numerous news services. Many of these news services are already on this list, but it could be very convenient to have all of them in one place. I probably wouldn’t send students to the site itself, since there are so many non-educational videos that would be attractive, but a teacher could use Editors Room as a source for videos he/she might want to embed or use to create a video playlist. You can read more about the service at TechCrunch.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.