If you are looking for a fabulous resource for World War 1, I highly recommend The Great War YouTube channel. Written and hosted by Indy Neidell, this is a terrific week-by-week series of “the war to end all wars.” It is well-researched, engaging, and provides abundant primary source materials such as maps, films, and photos. Even though we know the outcome (spoiler alert!), the tension of the actual war does bleed through. So does Indy’s heartfelt compassion for those poor soldiers. His coverage of the Armenian genocide is incredibly moving. Indy also captures the desperation of the millions of people who were forced to evacuate their homelands as wartime fronts shifted.
I would recommend this Great War series for middle school and up. I do block the screen for most images of dead bodies, of which there are many. There are a few that I allow, since dead bodies are a major “component” of the war. The genocide photos are very difficult to view, and I have skipped a couple of other episodes which are too mature for middle school.
The Great War channel helps viewers understand the politics and propaganda, the incompetence of many military leaders, and the despair of millions. Can you imagine heading to the eastern front, waiting for a soldier to die so you have a gun? Or drowning in your trench on the western front? Or a majority of your fellow soldiers freezing to death before you even fight?
Finally, The Great War channel has numerous special episodes featuring important aspects of that era, such as technology, famous persons, wartime animals, tanks, and more. They also provide regular summaries.
What’s the advantage for special needs students? The videos are quality made, can be stopped at key points, and viewed as often as needed. Each is about 9 minutes long, which is a reasonable length of time for the middle and high school brain. I set the speed of of the video to 75% to allow for a slower pace of listening (but they could be sped up slightly for those kiddos who have a long period of adaptation to audio materials). I also provide a preview of each video to allow brains to file new information more efficiently. Indy does a superb job of reviewing the previous week and then summarizing the current film. You would need to watch a couple per school day to complete the series in a school year. Homeschoolers might have an advantage with a more flexible schedule.
You can support The Great War channel through Patreon- and that’s a great idea, too!