TV for Studying MTEL History

MTEL History
Learning Strategies

TV for Studying MTEL History

Most of my students wouldn’t identify history or science as their favorite subjects.  Studying isn’t always a preferred activity, especially when you have to study for an MTEL, especially when you have to study a subject you hate.

I have found several helpful resources over the years.  I list the books I recommend on our website, www.joinETI.com.  You’ll find them listed in the course descriptions for the General Curriculum Multi-Subject and Early Childhood programs.  Books are great, but nothing beats an engaging movie or TV show.  

Know Your MTEL History

Below is a list of TV shows and documentaries that I recommend for studying/reviewing history.  They are available on various networks and are meant to be entertaining and informative.  They paint a picture of the zeitgeist—the spirit of the times—of the historical periods they document.  While not 100% historically accurate, these productions will give valuable insights into important events and people necessary to ace the General Curriculum Multi-Subject and Early Childhood MTELs. 

I know that watching history documentaries might not be your ideal weekend plan, but if you have trouble keeping your history straight, binging these instead of another season of The Bachelor might be in your best interest. 

I would recommend reviewing my test prep materials (for those of you who have taken my programs) and practice exams and the Everything You Need to Know About American History (or World History) for the period you’ll be studying.  Take notes while cross-referencing the info on the page and on the screen.  Hit the pause button when you hear something that pertains to particular multiple-choice or open response questions.  You’ll be surprised how many you’ll recognize in the programs below:

Revolutionary War (1760s-1770s)

Liberty’s Kids

An animated series that originated on PBS, this 40-episode show starts at the Boston Tea Party and hits all the important people and events right up through the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention. Made for kids, it’s very easy to understand while giving a good picture of the events before and during the founding of the USA.


General American History (1760s-2000s)

America: The Story of Us

This 12-episode documentary series starts with the early settlements in Jamestown and Plymouth and marches through all the crucial events of American history: the American Revolution, Westward expansion, the Civil War, the moon landing, etc. 


Industrial Revolution, the Gilded Age, & The Progressive Era (ca. 1850s-1900)

The Men Who Built America

This is another worthwhile History Channel series which explores America during the Industrial Revolution of the mid- to late-1800s and into the 20th century.  Follow the rise of John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and other robber barons as they maneuver and manipulate their way to the top of their industries along with the efforts to “bust the trusts.”


World Wars I & II (1914-1945)

The World Wars

This 3-episode series starts by documenting the causes of WWI and the issues caused by the Treaty of Versailles, and it continues through the rise of fascism and WWII. 


The Cold War (1970s-80s)

The Americans

No documentary, this FX series is on many top 100 lists for best TV series for good reason.  It is an excellent show.  For MTEL purposes, this 6-season series follows two KGB spies during the 1970s-80s and paints a very good picture of the tensions present during the Cold War and some of the issues that led to the fall of the USSR and end of the Cold War. 


General human history (BC to modern times)

The Story of All of Us: Mankind

This show attempts to cover the entirety of human history in 12 episodes.  While it falls short of this lofty goal, it does cover many pivotal events in the human story. 


General history/science connections

Big History

Big History is a 17-episode series that makes connections between science and history in ways that most might not have realized.  Many MTEL-important scientific concepts and historical events are highlighted.


What’s Your MTEL History Watch?

Do you have any recommended shows to add to the list?  If so, please let me know, and I’ll check them out.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. 

If you need any help with these or other MTELs, please let us know.

ETI has been guaranteeing MTEL success since 1999.


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