Posted in Credit by Exam, Curriculum, DSST

Ken Burns Documenatries & DSST

Ken Burns.  Ever hear of him?  He’s an American filmmaker.  Specifically, he is a history documentary legend.  His trademark is to use a lot of actual photos, video and audio clips from the time period, and create these really long multi-hour films.  These aren’t just boring educational films, these are award-winners.  Even adults who aren’t really “into” history usually enjoy Ken Burns’ work.

Today, I want to highlight 2 of his films: The Civil War (1990), and his newest release The Vietnam War (2017).  These two films just happen to align well with the two upper-level DSST exams  and fit in perfectly with a US History curriculum.   If your teen has studied US History, or better yet- taken either US History CLEP exam, the Civil War is a perfect fit right in between the US History 1 and US History 2.  For those who just studied US History 2, you’ve probably already covered a bit about the Vietnam War.   Either subject can be studied as an “Advanced US History” course, taken separately or as part of a year-long course.

If your teen has studied or is currently studying US History, the Civil War and Reconstruction DSST is a perfect fit right in between the US History 1 and US History 2 CLEPs.  For those who just studied US History 2, you’ve probably already covered a bit about the Vietnam War.   Either subject can be studied as an “Advanced US History” course, taken separately, or as part of a year-long course.

For those who haven’t started teaching US History yet, you can do it over 1 or 2 years.

If you were studying over 1 year, you’d cover the content like this:

United States History  (1 year / 1 high school credit/12 college credits)
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
United States through Civil War Civil War and Reconstruction United States from Reconstruction The Vietnam War
CLEP: US History 1

(3 college credits)

DSST: Civil War

(3 college credits)

CLEP:  US History 2

(3 college credits)

DSST: Vietnam War

(3 college credits)

If you were studying United States history over 2 years, it would look like this:

United States History  (2 years / 2 high school credits/12 college credits)
1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
United States through Civil War Civil War and Reconstruction United States from Reconstruction The Vietnam War
CLEP: US History 1

(3 college credits)

DSST: Civil War

(3 college credits)

CLEP:  US History 2

(3 college credits)

DSST: Vietnam War

(3 college credits)

I’ve included the documentary content and DSST exam help for both subjects.   In each section, you’ll also find a few selected study resources so you can DIY a course for your teen.  An upper-level exam credit by exam is rare.  If you have selected a target college and know that they accept DSST exams for college credit, these 2 exams will yield a total of 6 college credits in history / social sciences.  For those earning a degree in Liberal Studies, History, or Social Sciences, these two exams are very valuable because they won’t simply fill the “general education” but may fill part of an area of study or major!

If your teen hasn’t selected a target college, but you’re studying these subjects in high school anyway, I strongly encourage you to consider adding these to the schedule anyway.  The potential upside is very good since the average cost of upper-level credit is over $500-$1,000 per credit. In other words, these exams could save you somewhere around $3,000 – $6,000 in tuition if accepted by a target college.  You’ll save another $500-$2000 if you add in the two lower level US History CLEP exams.

If you don’t end up getting to use the exams for college credit, you’re only out the cost of the exams ($80 each).  All high school credit earned is ALWAYS counted on your homeschool transcript – regardless of whether or not the exam was passed or a college awards credit in the future.  That’s the way Advanced Placement (AP) works, and that’s a good model to follow.

Personal side note:  He also executive produced The Emperor of All Maladies (film) that is a knock-your-socks-off documentary about cancer. In 2011, the book was required reading in my graduate biology course at Harvard University.  I took a course called Newsworthy Topics in the Life Sciences through their Extension campus.  The book was nothing like I expected.  It was phenomenal.  When the documentary came out in 2015, I didn’t expect it to be great, after all, movies are never as good as books….I was wrong.  While I recommend the book, honestly, the movie “added” so much more to the book.  I recommend both!  The link above takes you to PBS site, but it is also to instant stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime.


The Civil War

NOTE:  I tried really hard to find a free source for this documentary, but haven’t been successful.  I hope you can find it at your library since it is a little pricey to purchase.  If you find a free (legitimate) source, please let me know so I can share it here.    

Link to the documentary on PBS (check your local programming)

Link to the box set (digital) and tons of reviews on Amazon

Link to Amazon Prime (pay per episode)

“The Civil War is a 9-part, 11-hour American television documentary miniseries created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was first broadcast on PBS on five consecutive nights from September 23 to 27, 1990. Approximately 40 million viewers watched it during this broadcast, making it the most-watched program ever to air on PBS. It was awarded more than 40 major television and film honors. A companion book to the documentary was released shortly after the series aired.” –Wikipedia

The Wikipedia chart is helpful planning curriculum because it breaks out the date range covered in each episode!

No. Episode Original air date
1 “The Cause” (1861) September 23, 1990[8]
All Night ForeverAre We Free?; A House Divided; The Meteor; Secessionitis; 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861; Traitors and Patriots; Gun Men; Manassas; A Thousand Mile Front; Honorable Manhood
2 “A Very Bloody Affair” (1862) September 24, 1990[9]
Politics; Ironclads; Lincolnites; The Peninsula; Our Boy; Shiloh; The Arts of Death; Republics; On To Richmond
3 “Forever Free” (1862) September 24, 1990[9]
StonewallThe BeastThe Seven Days; Kiss Daniel For Me; Saving the Union; AntietamThe Higher Object
4 “Simply Murder” (1863) September 25, 1990[10]
Northern Lights; Oh! Be Joyful; The Kingdom of Jones; Under the Shade of the Trees; A Dust-Covered Man
5 “The Universe of Battle” (1863) September 25, 1990[10]
Gettysburg: The First DayGettysburg: The Second DayGettysburg: The Third DayShe Ranks MeVicksburg; Bottom Rail On Top; The River of DeathA New Birth of Freedom
6 “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (1864) September 26, 1990[11]
Valley of the Shadow of Death; GrantLeeIn the WildernessMove By the Left Flank; Now, Fix Me; The Remedy
7 “Most Hallowed Ground” (1864) September 26, 1990[11]
A Warm Place in the FieldNathan Bedford Forrest; Summer, 1864; Spies; The Crater; Headquarters U.S.A.; The Promised Land; The Age of Shoddy; Can Those Be Men?; The People’s Resolution; Most Hallowed Ground
8 “War Is All Hell” (1865) September 27, 1990[12]
Sherman’s March; The Breath Of Emancipation; Died Of A Theory; Washington, March 4, 1865; I Want to See Richmond; Appomattox
9 “The Better Angels of Our Nature” (1865) September 27, 1990[12]
AssassinationUseless, Useless; Picklocks Of Biographers; Was It Not Real?

DSST:  The Civil War and Reconstruction Resource List

InstantCert DOES have flashcards for this test ($5 off use code 100150)

Official DSST Exam Content  (link to pdf)

Free CLEP Prep Study Guide and Practice Test 

Civil War Trust (a MUST SEE site)

History of the United States: The Great Courses Plus 

DSST officially suggests the following textbooks for your consideration when studying for this exam (the two with links are books that I own.  Both are excellent.)
1. Foner, Eric (2011). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York, NY: Harper and Row, current edition.
2. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2005). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Current edition.
3. McPherson, James (1988). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, current edition.
4. McPherson, James & Hogue, James K. (2010). Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 4 th Ed.




 

The Vietnam War

This is available for instant streaming now for free on PBS to watch on any device!

You can’t currently watch it using Amazon Prime, but they are selling the box set.

“The Vietnam War is a 10-part, 18-hour documentary television series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about the Vietnam War. The documentary premiered on the Public Broadcasting Service on September 17, 2017.” –Wikipedia

The Wikipedia chart is helpful planning curriculum because it breaks out the date range covered in each episode!

Episode Original airdate
1 “Déjà Vu” (1858 – 1961) 90 minutes September 17, 2017
After a century of French occupation, Vietnam emerges independent but divided into North and South.
2 “Riding the Tiger” (1961 – 1963) 90 minutes September 18, 2017
As a communist insurgency gains strength, President Kennedy wrestles with American involvement in South Vietnam.
3 “The River Styx” (January 1964 – December 1965) 2 hours September 19, 2017
With South Vietnam near collapse, President Johnson begins bombing the North and sends US troops to the South.
4 “Resolve” (January 1966 – June 1967) 2 hours September 20, 2017
US soldiers discover Vietnam is unlike their fathers’ war, while the antiwar movement grows.
5 “This Is What We Do” (July 1967 – December 1967) 90 minutes September 21, 2017
Johnson escalated the war while promising the American public that victory is in sight.
6 “Things Fall Apart” (January 1968 – July 1968) 90 minutes September 24, 2017
Shaken by the Tet Offensive, assassinations and unrest, America seems to be coming apart.
7 “The Veneer of Civilization” (June 1968 – May 1969) 2 hours September 25, 2017
After chaos roils the Democratic Convention, Richard Nixon, promising peace, narrowly wins the presidency.
8 “The History of the World” (April 1969 – May 1970) 2 hours September 26, 2017
Nixon withdraws US troops but when he sends forces into Cambodia the antiwar movement reignites.
9 “A Disrespectful Loyalty” (May 1970 – March 1973) 2 hours September 27, 2017
South Vietnam fights on its own as Nixon and Kissinger find a way out for America. American POWs return.
10 “The Weight of Memory” (March 1973 – Onward) 2 hours September 28, 2017
Saigon falls and the war ends. Americans and Vietnamese from all sides search for reconciliation.

DSST:  The Vietnam War Resource List

InstantCert DOES have flashcards for this test ($5 off use code 100150)

Official DSST exam content (link to pdf)

Free CLEP Prep study guide and practice test

History of the United States: The Great Courses Plus  (lecture 76)

National Military Archives (government resource page)

DSST officially suggests the following textbooks for your consideration when studying for this exam: 
1. Frankum, Ronald B., Jr. (2011). Historical Dictionary of the War in Vietnam. Toronto: Scarecrow Press. Current Edition.
2. Goldfield, David (2011). The American Journey: A History of the United States. New York: Pearson. Current edition.
3. Karnow, Stanley (1983). Vietnam: A History. New York: Viking Press. Current edition.
4. Lawrence, Mark Atwood (2010). The Vietnam War. USA: Oxford University Press. 
5. Sheehan, Neil (1989). A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage. Current edition.
6. Tucker, Spencer C. (ed).(2001), Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Current edition

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