TeachersFirst's Resources for American Presidents

Other TeachersFirst Special Topics Collections

Whether you are celebrating Presidents Day or learning about the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, this collection of reviewed resources about presidents provides a rich starting point for research, class study, or multimedia projects. If this list is too broad, use the search tool at the left of this page to find resources on a specific president or within a certain grade range. You may also be interested in TeachersFirst's Resources for U.S. Elections or TeachersFirst's Resources for U.S. Presidential Inaugurations.

 

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Presidential Election Interactive Map and History of the Electoral College - 270 to win

Grades
6 to 12
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If it's a college, why doesn't it have a football team? Unfortunately, that's about the level of understanding about the Electoral College among many students. Once student learn that...more
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If it's a college, why doesn't it have a football team? Unfortunately, that's about the level of understanding about the Electoral College among many students. Once student learn that we don't really elect presidents by popular vote, many are also quick to condemn the Electoral College as "stupid" or "unfair." This site might help teachers put the Electoral College and the process we use to determine our president into sharper focus. The interactive map is fairly simple, but can be adapted to show the peculiar way that "all or nothing" Electoral College voting state by state can affect the outcome of an election. We need look no further than the most recent 2008 election to see its impact in real terms. You can highlight a particular state and get a historical view of electoral votes for the republican or democratic candidate in past presidential elections. Although the site will have usefulness beyond the 2012 election, it is currently featuring the progress of that race through the straw polls, then primaries and beyond with polling data.

Be aware: during election season, this site opens slowly. But it is well worth the wait.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): college (43), elections (75), electoral college (16)

In the Classroom

Use the site on an interactive whiteboard to illustrate the impact of Electoral College voting on the election of the US President, both today and in the past. Perhaps we will finally raise a generation who completely understands the Electoral College and how it works!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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"Science Myths" in K-6 Textbooks and Popular culture - WILLIAM J. BEATY

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K to 6
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If you are a fan of "Mythbusters," you will love this one. This visually-drab site is a treasury of trickery included in K-6 science textbooks and popular culture. The text-only ...more
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If you are a fan of "Mythbusters," you will love this one. This visually-drab site is a treasury of trickery included in K-6 science textbooks and popular culture. The text-only site is created and maintained by a self-described research engineer, "HV/Electrostatics specialist, Lecturer, Sci. Exhibit Designer, Textbook Consultant, Amateur Physicist" on the staff of the University of Washington Dept of Chemistry. There are some ads on the site, but they are not distracting. The various links tell of misconceptions by science category (electricity, physics, etc)and are not searchable. Start with BAD PHYSICS AND BAD ELECTRICITY. There are also links to others' articles on misconceptions in science.

tag(s): electricity (89)

In the Classroom

If you teach science (and even if you only TOOK science), you owe it to yourself to read through this site, at least long enough to find the topics that YOU teach and be sure that your materials are accurate. The best way to find information is probably to browse for the topics you teach and use Ctrl-F on your keyboard to FIND key terms in the text. Of course, if you believe the same misconceptions that our texts have told us for years, you won't know what terms to FIND...You might want to make this a professional learning "game" at an inservice day: find a misconception and debunk it for the rest of the elementary science team. You might want to gently point out the problems to your principal or curriculum director.

Share this site with very bright students to explore and report back to you. Need a challenge for the gifted? Have the students select a misconception and create a CORRECT illustration of the concept in multimedia form. If you give them a wiki space to use for their presentation, you can even submit the link to Mr. Beaty. Now that's authentic assessment!

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Beacon Learning Center Books On-line - Beacon Learning Center

Grades
1 to 3
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Beacon Learning Center Books On-line offers several books relating to social studies topics such as Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham...more
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Beacon Learning Center Books On-line offers several books relating to social studies topics such as Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence and many more historical events. Amid the social studies books is one on simple machines, as well. The on-line books consist of text and pictures. Students read at their own pace by choosing when to go to the next page. Some books have audio, so make sure the speakers are turned on.

tag(s): columbus day (11), holidays (147), jefferson (19), lincoln (86), presidents (131), roosevelt (16), washington (36)

In the Classroom

The on-line books would provide wonderful non-fiction literature opportunities for center time or as an activity as part of your presidents unit. Weaker readers or learning support students will benefit from those with audio. The book topics make them great supplements for holidays such as Columbus Day and President's Day. Place the link on your teacher web page and assign the books as homework if your students have Internet access.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Social Studies for Kids

Grades
1 to 8
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This is a general "go-to" website all about social studies. There is information about current events, culture, holidays, languages, religion, economics, geography, maps, government,...more
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This is a general "go-to" website all about social studies. There is information about current events, culture, holidays, languages, religion, economics, geography, maps, government, U.S. presidents, timelines, and many other social studies topics. The highlight of this website is the Current Events segment. This is an easy way to incorporate age-appropriate current events in your classroom.
Note: an annoying audio ad plays when you first enter the site. Turn OFF your sound!

tag(s): holidays (147), maps (287), presidents (131), renaissance (34), timelines (62)

In the Classroom

Use the current events segment as weekly discussion starter or assignment in your social studies class. Share this link on your teacher web page for students to access outside of class. To really build a stronger sense of current events, start a class year-long current events "log" on a wiki and have a differnet student write a "week in review" each week throughout the year, based on the current events provided here or others he/she may know about. Reading teachers may also want to use the articles on this site to teach informational text reading skills on an interactive whiteboard. Reading levels are challenging for grades 1-3. Teachers will need to provide help by reading aloud or partnering readers.

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When the Personal Becomes Presidential - New York Times Learning Network

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6 to 12
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This is a New York Times lesson plan focused on a recent article about the personal lives of Presidential candidates. The lesson plan asks students to look at the ...more
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This is a New York Times lesson plan focused on a recent article about the personal lives of Presidential candidates. The lesson plan asks students to look at the extent to which candidates and their personal pasts will influence voters' willingness to support them, and focuses on the fact that several candidates have had messy divorces.

The lesson plan starts with the familiar "read the story and discuss" format, but there are a number of good essential questions and extension activities provided that could be tailored into a strong classroom plan. The lesson plans have cross-curricular suggestions, and are tied to standards.

tag(s): elections (75), presidents (131)

In the Classroom

Be sure help your weaker readers and ELL students by sharing the listed vocabulary words prior to reading, either on a handout or by projecting on an interactive whiteboard and highlighting them in the text as you come to them.

Use this lesson to discuss current events in politics (which changes daily). Have students discuss and debate the current issues. Have the students write a wiki about a current event in politics (for example, Governor Palin being the first woman VP on the GOP ticket).

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Road Trip Through Washington - Bellingham Public Schools

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3 to 5
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This interactive investigation involves planning a road trip through the state of Washington. This web activity provides an enormous amount of information. The steps of the project...more
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This interactive investigation involves planning a road trip through the state of Washington. This web activity provides an enormous amount of information. The steps of the project are detailed step-by-step. Students need to complete research and then create a brochure to persuade their parents to take this road trip.

tag(s): washington (36)

In the Classroom

This site provides a "Teacher Tips" page with details, lesson schedule, rubrics and more! You could use this as a model for similar investigations of other states, as well.

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American Experience The Gold Rush - PBS

Grades
6 to 12
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From a PBS American Experience episode on the Gold Rush, this site includes a good timeline for the Gold Rush, transcripts of interviews concerning the immigrant contribution to settling...more
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From a PBS American Experience episode on the Gold Rush, this site includes a good timeline for the Gold Rush, transcripts of interviews concerning the immigrant contribution to settling California and pursing gold, lesson plans focused on history, economics, geography and civics. There is a nice Flash-powered simulation game in which students can choose a character to navigate the rigors of the Gold Rush. Characters include a Chinese immigrant and a woman.

tag(s): california (27), civil war (145), gold rush (19), immigration (58), lincoln (86), migration (59)

In the Classroom

The Gold Rush era in American history usually gets folded into a discussion of immigration or western expansion. The timeline helps put the discussion into a broader context that includes the Civil War. The simulation game would be a good extension activity for students who master material more quickly, or for students to do at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Create an Interview Video - Washington Post

Grades
7 to 12
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The Washington Post offers this short-term opportunity to create your own campaign interview. Begun in September, 2006, the project invites you and your students to create a video interview...more
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The Washington Post offers this short-term opportunity to create your own campaign interview. Begun in September, 2006, the project invites you and your students to create a video interview using the downloadable question "footage" they provide of an interviewer and insert your own video of the responses. You may submit your completed video back to the Post's site. After a few weeks, the Post will allow you to see others' work and comment to each other.

This would be a great activity to teach video editing, but more importantly to teach about interviewing, political "message," and the election process.

Although this activity was designed prior to the 2006 election, the video clips will work for most any election.

tag(s): elections (75), gifted (96)

In the Classroom

As a class activity, you may not want to upload your resulting videos but instead share them in class, depending on your district policies about posting student work to the web. Certainly, you will want to keep student work anonymous. Tech skills needed: ability to download and upload, locating or creating video clips of responses, use of Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, or similar video-editing software, management of larger files, proper citation of sources.
 
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English Language Proficiency Standards in the Core Content Areas - TESOL

Grades
K to 12
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This site has the PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards in the Core Content Areas. Particularly helpful for classroom teachers are sections within the pdf document listed at...more
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This site has the PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards in the Core Content Areas. Particularly helpful for classroom teachers are sections within the pdf document listed at the bottom of the page [click on Preview: PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards in the Core Content Areas (PDF)] It would be most helpful for you to print these out. Page 15 which describes the 5 levels of proficiency for ESL students in public and private schools from preschool through high school. It also describes "Grade Level Clusters" for such students, as well as defining standards for the students in school and academic fields. Pages 20 and 21 which have a chart of appropriate student abilities by language domain (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in the 5 levels of proficiency. Standards for 16 states including Washington DC can be found beginning on page 22. This document requires Acrobat Reader. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): area (66)

In the Classroom

Save this site as a favorite for easy reference and use it as a measure-point for student progress. This can help teachers track where students are at and should be by the end of the year.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle Unit National Historic Park - National Park Service

Grades
3 to 12
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The National Park Service's overview of Seattle's Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center contains links to some extremely comprehensive educational materials. Included is a integrated curriculum...more
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The National Park Service's overview of Seattle's Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center contains links to some extremely comprehensive educational materials. Included is a integrated curriculum design for grades 3-6 consisting of 19 lessons blending history, language arts (writing and journaling), and geography. One of the lessons requires the use of the PBS film "Gold!" and one of the lessons involves a field trip to the Visitor Center. There are links to PDF versions of lesson documents, many hands-on project overviews, and comprehensive materials lists. The lessons would be easily adapted to students in higher grade levels.

tag(s): gold rush (19), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Teachers in upper grades could easily pick and choose from these lessons to flesh out a unit on the Gold Rush. The link to "History and Culture" takes you to a Washington State data base of photographs and newspaper clippings that could provide good primary source material for classroom use or for History Day projects on the Gold Rush.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Grading on a Curve - New York Times

Grades
6 to 12
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Just how effective are the six key issues of President Bush's domestic agenda? This lesson gives students a chance to assume the role of political analyst as they critically examine...more
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Just how effective are the six key issues of President Bush's domestic agenda? This lesson gives students a chance to assume the role of political analyst as they critically examine the Bush administration. The goal is to create a report card addressing the efficacy of selected domestic topics. Includes suggestions for interdisciplinary activities and projects. Aligned to standards.

tag(s): foreign policy (16), presidents (131)

In the Classroom

Though a bit outdated for a current events class, this would be a great lesson in a US government class looking at the Presidency of George H.W. Bush. Save this lesson as a favorite on your desktop to allow for easy retrieval later on - though be sure to look closely at the lesson and make sure that students have learned enough of the contextual information to be able to make sense of the article. For differentiation, peruse the article before-hand, creating a list of words that students may have trouble with or may not be familiar with. Create a follow-along for the article, defining those words selected to help students as they read. This will allow lower achieving readers to be able to process the information more efficiently and with more comprehension.

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Mark Twain and American Humor - National Endowment for the Humanities

Grades
9 to 12
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Twain's unique brand of humor and its effect on the American literary tradition is investigated in this three-part lesson. After examining characteristics of a short story and use of...more
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Twain's unique brand of humor and its effect on the American literary tradition is investigated in this three-part lesson. After examining characteristics of a short story and use of dialect, students are asked to compare and contrast Twain's "Celebrated Jumping Frog" tale with humorous stories by 19th century writers George Washington Harris and Nathanial Hawthorne to gain a unique perspective on Twain's influence. Finally, students are asked to rewrite a paragraph from Hawthorne's story in dialect style, and discuss the possibility of blending these two traditions. Aligned to standards.

tag(s): humor (15), mark twain (10)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plan on this site! The site's plan is connected to objectives and standards of learning alignment.

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Civil War for Kids - Pocantico Hills Central School

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3 to 5
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This site, created for students, by students, provides kid-friendly information about the Civil War - including a timeline of significant events, bar graphs containing data about the...more
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This site, created for students, by students, provides kid-friendly information about the Civil War - including a timeline of significant events, bar graphs containing data about the North and South, easy-to-read maps, depictions of Union and Confederate flags, and much more. Includes biographies of important Civil War-era personalities, links to related sites, and activity sheets.

tag(s): biographies (87), civil war (145), flags (21), lincoln (86)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a learning center or station to supplement a classroom unit on the Civil War. Have students look at all the aspects of the site, as some of the visuals are unique and provide something more tangible to bookwork and lectures.

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Cover Art: The Time Magazine Collection - National Portrait Gallery

Grades
9 to 12
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This impressive collection of magazine cover art represents some of the world's most compelling personalities and some of Time's most memorable art work. You'll find portraits of queens,...more
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This impressive collection of magazine cover art represents some of the world's most compelling personalities and some of Time's most memorable art work. You'll find portraits of queens, presidents, popes, athletes, and entertainers - the famous as well as the infamous. Each portrait is accompanied by brief biographical information and sound clips.

tag(s): famous people (19), news (261)

In the Classroom

This site would be useful in a Art History or US government class studying the impact of the media on politics. Have students explore the site on the interactive whiteboard, allowing them to be hands on with the material - avoid being the Vanna White of the board! As students are navigating the site, focus their attention on how many presidents and political figures are featured - as evidenced on the link entitled "Most Featured Person." This could lead into a great discussion of how exposure can affect politicians, as well as the difference between good and bad press.

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