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High School Level-Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners

High School Level-Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners

Professor Linwood Thompson M.A.
Bellflower High School, Los Angeles, California
Course No.  132
Course No.  132
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Course Overview

About This Course

30 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

Make American history come alive for your student with this excellent 30- lecture course by nationally recognized educator Linwood Thompson. Covering the first half of America's fascinating history from the settlement of the continent by Native Americans through to the California Gold Rush of 1849, this course is taught with unusual creativity and innovation.

Every lesson in the course is "taught" by a particular character. Professor Thompson has an arsenal of costumes, as well as a firm grasp on the personae of great historical figures. He dresses, talks, and acts like them. He actually becomes them!

Lin Thompson appears only briefly at the start of this course. He then "becomes" Bjarni Herjolfsson, Viking explorer and incomparable expert on who really discovered America. From that moment, students will know they are in for a fascinating trip as Bjarni gives way to Christopher Columbus, revolutionary war foot soldiers, a French trapper, and a host of other characters who provide a first-person perspective on early American history.

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Make American history come alive for your student with this excellent 30- lecture course by nationally recognized educator Linwood Thompson. Covering the first half of America's fascinating history from the settlement of the continent by Native Americans through to the California Gold Rush of 1849, this course is taught with unusual creativity and innovation.

Every lesson in the course is "taught" by a particular character. Professor Thompson has an arsenal of costumes, as well as a firm grasp on the personae of great historical figures. He dresses, talks, and acts like them. He actually becomes them!

Lin Thompson appears only briefly at the start of this course. He then "becomes" Bjarni Herjolfsson, Viking explorer and incomparable expert on who really discovered America. From that moment, students will know they are in for a fascinating trip as Bjarni gives way to Christopher Columbus, revolutionary war foot soldiers, a French trapper, and a host of other characters who provide a first-person perspective on early American history.

A New Look for American History

Professor Thompson’s characters will inspire students to look at history from a new perspective. Professor Thompson’s guides, while entertaining, will also teach the student to better understand American history. Students will learn:

  • To differentiate between Southwest and Eastern Woodland Native Americans
  • What led Europeans such as Columbus to the New World
  • The roles European powers—Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands—played in their colonies and how those colonies interacted
  • The roles of religious groups in American history, such as the Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, and Mormons
  • The economic and civil injustices that planted the seeds of revolution in the colonists' minds
  • The struggles and farsightedness of Founding Fathers Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and others in the creation of this new nation
  • The challenges in foreign policy that beleaguered the young nation: the French Revolution, the XYZ Affair, and subsequent Alien and Sedition Acts
  • How canals and railroads accelerated the expansion West.

He's such an entertaining presenter that students learn without effort. Every lecture is delivered in costume and in character. They just sit back, relax, and learn.

Here is Professor Thompson's description of the course:

"America's history begins with an overview of Pre-Columbian Native Americans and the impact of subsequent European discovery. Our study explores the exciting eras of colonization, independence, and the forging of a young nation. We end with the settling of the American frontier as an emerging nation stretches from sea to shining sea.

"Many of the characters I portray in these lectures are actual historical figures. Other composite characters can be distinguished by the use of my name, i.e., 'USA Thompson,' 'Hickory Thompson,' etc. Remember that the lecturers from each period will share certain attitudes and biases while sharing the story of their day. It is important that you gain a truly historical perspective by reading and studying these same incidents as recorded and analyzed in various articles and books.

"To assist you in this part of your studies, I have provided a large list of books at the end of the course outline. In each lesson, I have listed books that will help you dig a little deeper and understand a lot more about the topic that I portray on the tape. Some are called 'essential,' which means that you should try to get a copy and read the chapters noted to get the most out of the lecture.

"Others are 'strongly recommended' or 'suggested.' This means that they would be valuable to check out but are not necessary for a basic understanding of the topic, if you have looked at the essential book(s). They might focus on just one particular part of the lecture, or maybe they're a little bit more advanced than the 'essential' book.

"By referring to as many of the recommended books as possible, you will challenge yourself to develop your skills as a reader and researcher, which are good skills to have as you advance through your schooling toward college.

"American history is a rich story of the events that have shaped modern American society. Allow the stories to transport you back in time to the initial shaping of a nation with diverse cultural roots. I love American history! I hope you will love it too."

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30 Lectures
  • 1
    Pre-Columbian America
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 2
    Discovery and Exploration of America
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 3
    The Virginia Colony
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 4
    Pilgrims and Puritans
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 5
    Other European Colonies
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 6
    Witches, Quakers, and Catholics
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 7
    Life in Colonial America
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 8
    Swashbucklers, Smugglers, and Slavers
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 9
    The Great Awakening and Enlightenment
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 10
    Wars with France
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 11
    Seeds of Revolution and War
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 12
    Men of the Revolution
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 13
    Declaration of Independence
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 14
    Revolutionary War—On Land and Sea
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 15
    The National Government and the War's End
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 16
    Stretching the Western Boundaries
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 17
    The Constitution
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 18
    Washington and the New Government
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 19
    French and American Revolutions
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 20
    Dividing of Patriots—The Two Party System
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 21
    Era of Jefferson
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 22
    War Hawks, Indians, and the War of 1812
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 23
    Industrial Revolution
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 24
    Cities and the Transportation Revolution
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 25
    Era of Jackson
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 26
    Texas
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 27
    The Trails West
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 28
    Colonizing the West—The Mormons
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 29
    Mexican Territories and War
    NO DESCRIPTION x
  • 30
    West to California
    NO DESCRIPTION x

Lecture Titles

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Linwood Thompson
M.A. Linwood Thompson
Bellflower High School, Los Angeles, California
Linwood Thompson teaches history at Bellflower High School in suburban Los Angeles, where his program has attracted international attention for its creativity and innovation. Professor Thompson received his M.A. at Brigham Young University. The California State Senate honored him for Outstanding Achievement in Education. In 1997-1998, he received the State Superintendent of Public Instruction California Teachers of the Year award issued by California Department of Education. The County of Los Angeles has lauded his extraordinary altruism, imagination, and talent. The Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Sanyo Corporation honored him as one of LA's Hometown Heroes for his contributions to Los Angeles students. Trained in classical theater, he also pursues a career in acting and directing for stage and screen, working both with a Shakespearean festival and his own acting company.
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Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 27 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Entertaining way of teaching US History Professor Thompson utilizes his acting talents to make history enjoyable. We used this to supplement home-school US History course and we loved it. February 8, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Review of Early American History I am usually not an American history fan but Linwood Thompson has produced a marvel. These lectures are a combination of soliloquy, acting, historical story telling, and brilliant expository. The course is only available in DVD, in part because of the costume props, but more importantly to watch the character portrayals. There are no slides or video, as they would distract. This course is like a good book where mental images invigorate your mind. Thompson uses a device more important than props that needs to be understood. He starts each course by adopting a character that is NOT the central character of the lecture. This allows Thompson to use that character's eyes to tell you all about the world that character sees in a gossipy yet deeply involved manner. You feel that you are there. The character's point of view, his heroes and villains become yours. You read the papers with him, you smell the smells, and you feel the pain. By then adopting a different character in the next lecture, you get a different point of view on the same period. Both points of view are shown to have merit and so the complexity of the issues becomes obvious. An example of the brilliance of this technique is lessons 11/12. First a British soldier gives his point of view about the horrendous behavior of the ungrateful American pre-Revolutionary war colonists. It is hilariously accurate portrayal of our bad behavior as seen from "the other side". Then Thompson portrays the American. Such juxtaposition is portrayed many times, including French vs British interests, the Spanish vs Texas, etc. It allows a better understanding of the results of conflict and the best methods of conflict resolution. Thompson is a master of finding the great stories that bring history alive. There are dozens of stories within each lesson. Don't miss the stories like John Colter's hair-raising escape, Mexican mules, the Ice King, pirates, War Hawks, bear attacks, and the burning of Washington. The difference between the Spanish treatment of the Indians via missions and that of the U.S. military is thought provoking. Towards the end of the course, you realize that Thompson interweaves his stories so that characters seen much earlier in the course pop up again... through a different character's eyes. This is very helpful memory device. Hint: since Thompson starts each lecture with a character (ex: Aaron Burr telling the story of Jefferson), write the name of that character down on the outline page so that when Thompson finally shows you why he is starting from that character, you will grasp the continuity. Cons: Unlike Cardulla's HS Chemistry, this course has no guidebook. It does have an excellent study workbook with an outline and Q&S. I found myself furiously filling in the outline because the workbook approach doesn't allow cohesiveness upon subject review. Additionally, this course is NOT available in download so after watching once, you can't take it with you on the treadmill. An audio file for second play through would be great. I truly am in awe of this course, which appears to have come out in '96. As the Teaching Company occasionally retires courses [this one has not been converted to download, which is worrisome], consider purchasing it soon. If you read the reviews, adults liked this course at least as much as their kids. Avoid the wound to your pride of the HS label by buying it for your kids. Then watch it. Boys in particular (including the grown up ones), will love its many tales of adventure. January 26, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Very enjoyable for any level of history student This is such a fun course, I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in history. *It's accessible and educational for anyone, high school to history buff! *Convincing. Prof Thompson's approach is to act out the roles of many people in history. It completely drew me in. I felt like I listening to the actual character, rather than to a prof. *Great story-telling. While Prof J Rufus Fears' story-telling abilities are well-praised by reviewers, Prof Thompson has Prof Fears beat in this regard. He's got lots of detailed stories. He also keeps his own opinions out of the story telling; Prof Fears was unabashed about letting his opinions leak through. (Despite these comparisons, I have become a convert to Prof Fears in the last year. Sadly, he passed away in October. I'm glad he left us all such a rich legacy of courses.) *In depth! Can you believe he's got 36 lectures on pre-1850s America? I thought I knew a lot of American history. But I learned so much more. *Compared to "World History." This course has received much higher ratings than his World History course, 4.7-ish vs. 4.0-ish. It's not clear why, because they are both good. For me, they are 4.7 versus 4.4. Anyway, if you like this course, I think you'll like "World History," too. Downsides: *At times unclear. In his passion for *being* a particular person, he sometimes lost me. For example, if he's talking about two different people, and only uses "he", it becomes confusing as to which "he" he's talking about. *Facts: A few times I wasn't sure he had all of his facts straight. However, the strength of his course is the big picture, so this wasn't a big deal. *My only real frustration: This course lacks graphics, and it needs them. Maps, portraits, drawings, etc. I feel this detracted from the value of the course. Because of this, I think it's a bit overpriced. All that said: Wait for a coupon or special deal on this course. Then snatch it up and watch it with your family! October 24, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by ENTERTAINING COURSE FROM 1996 Definitely a valuable aid for high schools or for youngsters at home; this is not a standalone course. I was not surprised to note the series was recorded 16 years ago. Today I believe a somewhat different approach would and should be taken in teaching high school age students via this acting technique. The costumes were bright and always interesting, and Professor Thompson was able to vary his accent very well. The studio background, however, was distracting. Different lighting could have overcome this problem, by concentrating on the teacher and greatly toning down illumination on the set itself. Also, the introduction of some graphics & pictures would have been most welcome. Similarly some props (so many come to mind) would have added tremendously to the lectures. Overall, I'm happy to recommend this course as a very valuable and FUN teaching aid. October 23, 2012
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