What better way to take advantage of your Netflix subscription than by using it to supplement lesson plans. Netflix and other streaming services offer access to a myriad of documentaries worth exploring in the classroom. While local and federal copyright laws still apply, many make room for educational use. Here, I present just one of these documentaries and resources that accompany the video.
The highly acclaimed BBC series, Planet Earth, hosted by Sir David Attenborough, offers a great starting point for incorporating atypical sources of educational material like Netflix or Amazon Prime. This is an excellent series to draw clips from for courses that involve ecology or environmental science. It covers all of the major habitats on earth. I personally use it as a supplement in my upper-division university ecology class.
Each program in this 11-part series lasts about 50 minutes. The episodes range in topic from examinations of polar regions and exploring the origins of mountains to underwater journeys through the world's oceans and underground adventures in the world's caves. As stand-alones, clips from this documentary could bring regions of the world to life. Using more interactive approaches, segments can offer fodder for critical-thinking problems or class discussions.
James Dauray has developed a nice set of materials that teachers could use with the videos. You can find them at http://www.aurumscience.com/planetearth.html. He created free worksheets that students can use while watching parts of the series. For a small fee, teachers can access answer keys that accompany the worksheets. For curious educators, Mr. Dauray has also created lesson plans and power points on a variety of topics available through his site.
Whether using them to supplement lessons or simply for your own professional development, each episode of the Planet Earth series has something special to offer. This is a resource available to most of us as educators and to some or many of our students. Cheaper access to videos that would previously cost hundreds of dollars to acquire give us an opportunity to enhance our own understanding and that of our students.
Be sure to contact your school administrators for specific copyright requirements you may need to adhere to.
REMY DOU taught high school life science for eight years before becoming an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. He now works as a Graduate Assistant at Florida International University contributing to STEM education research. For column queries: email@example.com