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Open Congress - Participatory Politics Foundation

Grades
8 to 12
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While there are whole television networks calling themselves the best political insiders, you still hear what THEY think is important. This site lets you explore the legislative process...more
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While there are whole television networks calling themselves the best political insiders, you still hear what THEY think is important. This site lets you explore the legislative process on your own. Start with the ticker tape style accounting of what's happening in Congress today. Read the blog from the site's administrator. You can focus on a particular state, a particular legislator, or a bill topic. If there is a bill topic you are interested in, click on "The Money Trail" and see which congress person has received the most donations from interested lobbying group. Finally, click on "The Battle Royale" and get a temperature reading on which topics are generating the most interest both IN Congress and within the community following things on the site. There is a LOT of information here, and it's presented in an intuitive and easy to access way.

You should be aware, however, that the site includes a wiki. It allows you to create an account to organize the information you're following, and encourages you to "vote" on bills. Check your school's policies for having students participate in this kind of activity, or create a class account and use that function as a group activity.

tag(s): congress (33), house of representatives (9), politics (99), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site in your favorites for students as a place to do their own research on all things Congressional. Groups of students in a current events, government, or modern history class could research a bill, a legislator, or the process of passing legislation itself. This site will take them way past "I'm Just A Bill..." from Schoolhouse Rock. Have cooperative learning groups research a topic and create a multimedia presentation such as a podcast using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).

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Guzzle - Lemonchick

Grades
8 to 12
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This news aggregator allows you to select whatever news topics you would like to see displayed. You can choose either to see just the headlines or the headline and its ...more
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This news aggregator allows you to select whatever news topics you would like to see displayed. You can choose either to see just the headlines or the headline and its news source before you read. After customizing the pages, you can click to see a page showing just the items you would like to read. When you mouse over the headline, you can see the first sentence or so of the selected news item before clicking to get it in entirety. Clicking on the headline sends you directly to the original source newspaper. Once linked to the original newspaper, you have the option to search other articles at that source as well.

tag(s): news (261), newspapers (94)

In the Classroom

This site is excellent for enrichment, research, or a current events class. Include it on your class web page for students to access both in and out of class. Have students try out this site on individual computers, or as a learning center. This site is ideal for an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have the students open the site and use the whiteboard tools to set up a class selected news offering for each day.

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Timelines: Sources from History - British Library

Grades
4 to 12
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This site, created in the United Kingdom, offers many timelines with a simple click to launch an amazing 3-dimensional page. Timelines are organized by subject matter and include samplings...more
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This site, created in the United Kingdom, offers many timelines with a simple click to launch an amazing 3-dimensional page. Timelines are organized by subject matter and include samplings from literature, sociology, history, everyday life, science, technology, explorers, medicine, and more. With another click, you can zoom from one century to another. Start in the 1210s and work your way through the years. View the context of history using visual artifacts from DaVinci's contemporaries to shopping in the 1890s. Connect historical events or technological accomplishments by seeing them alongside simultaneous events, precursors, or results. An additional option allows you to save favorite timelines and/or events.

tag(s): europe (75), literature (275), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This site is excellent for research projects or to provide visual context to your curriculum in social studies, world cultures, world history, literature, art, or western heritage classes. Offer this set of timelines as a research source for history, social studies, and literature classes. Show students these timelines on an interactive whiteboard. Or have students research various topics on their own using this fabulous tool. Pique their interest by letting them browse to find out what else happened at the same time as events in the standard history curriculum -- then ask WHY. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create online posters displaying their findings using an online poster creator, such as Padlet (reviewed here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Finishing the Dream - NBC Learn

Grades
5 to 12
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This site offers a collection of videos on the Civil Rights Movement. Topics range from Brown Vs. Board of Education to the assassination of Martin Luther King. The time span ...more
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This site offers a collection of videos on the Civil Rights Movement. Topics range from Brown Vs. Board of Education to the assassination of Martin Luther King. The time span is from the 1950s to the present, the most current being a special produced by NBC asking about "finishing the dream." Each of the ten topic areas links to many news clips that focus on the particular topic of that civil rights problem. Each clip can be "flipped" to see more information about its source, description etc. Finishing the Dream is a free area of the broader NBC Learn video site that is subscription-based. There is even an embeddable widget to make the collection available on other web sites or blogs.

tag(s): civil rights (117), martin luther king (37)

In the Classroom

Include this site when your students are going to do a research project on civil rights or MLK. Use one of the videos from the site to introduce a civil rights unit. Have cooperative learning groups explore one of the videos/topics together and create multimedia presentations to share with the class. Challenge groups to narrate a picture using a tool such as ThingLink, reviewed here. Compare videos from this site to examine the question of how King's vision is being implemented today. If you know how, embed the widget for the entire collection on your class web page for students to access in and out of school during your civil rights unit or in January near Martin Luther King Day.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Fall 2010 Symposium: The Space Program and Beyond - Lou Frey Institute

Grades
9 to 12
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Watch a live webcast of a symposium on the future of the U.S. Space Program with keynote speaker U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, held on September 27, 2010. These archived webcasts ...more
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Watch a live webcast of a symposium on the future of the U.S. Space Program with keynote speaker U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, held on September 27, 2010. These archived webcasts include topics such as the role of high technology industries, the future of the space program in Florida and across the globe, and student Q/A periods. Although the focus of the symposium is on Florida, many of the topics extend nationally and internationally. The videos do not include a program guide, unfortunately.

tag(s): space (205)

In the Classroom

Share portions of this program in your government/civics classes as an example of the congressional funding/policy process and its impact on economics, scientific development, and more. Assign student groups to trace a single aspect of the space program and its impact on state/local economics, employment, science, and more. Have students create an visual presentation on the impact of a government program using a tool such as GlogsterEDU, reviewed here or stage a debate on the pros and cons of eliminating the space program altogether.

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National History Day - National History Day

Grades
6 to 12
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national...more
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national issues and events. This site is the home page for the competition, complete with all materials and information needed to participate. Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Use this site in combination with TeachersFirst's collection of History Day Resources.

tag(s): history day (23)

In the Classroom

Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Make this a permanent link on your class web page or share it with your gifted enrichment specialist for a curriculum connection to challenge any student.

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Symbols of America - Pearson

Grades
2 to 6
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The videos offer explanations of American symbols and offer insight into what could have been. For example, what if the turkey had been our national bird instead of the bald ...more
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The videos offer explanations of American symbols and offer insight into what could have been. For example, what if the turkey had been our national bird instead of the bald eagle? These interactive lessons have been designed for use on interactive whiteboards or projectors. Animated maps show what the different parts of the flag represent. Additional maps show the development of the flag into our current model. Upcoming videos to be released (after the time of this review) will include lessons on other American symbols such as Mt. Rushmore, The Liberty Bell, and monuments in Washington, DC.

tag(s): symbols (19)

In the Classroom

Show the video on your interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce a lesson on American Symbols. Ask students to brainstorms symbols that they know and discuss why they have become so important to Americans. Have students research one of the symbols discussed or one they have found on their own. Have students narrate a picture of the symbol using a tool such as ThingLink, reviewed here.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Ask Philosophers - Ask Philosophers

Grades
9 to 12
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. ...more
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. It's so tempting to say to the student, "We don't have time for that right now..." This site is about those big questions, and it's really very simple. Ordinary people send questions to a panel of philosophers, and the philosophers answer the questions. There are over 3000 questions answered on the site, all indexed by topic or keyword, and be aware that one of the topics is "sex." It's not pornographic, but the questions are direct.

In the Classroom

If you're looking for meaty writing prompts, this site is full of interesting and open-ended questions. The questions might also serve as a good data base for a class learning debate. It may also be helpful for students to see that philosophers use formal rules of thinking in answering their questions; they don't just say what they "feel" is right. Understanding that moral and ethical decision making is based on a set of predetermined principles is a concept that many students struggle with. This site would be useful for teaching ethical decision making with students whose thinking has progressed to the point where they are able to think more abstractly and philosophically: a gifted class perhaps? Have a class wiki dedicated to philosophy and profound questions. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.

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IndebtEd: We're Broke Let's Fix It - MTV Networks On Campus Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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This site has been created to help students become more aware of personal and governmental debt. Through interactives, videos, and articles this site will bring a greater understanding...more
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This site has been created to help students become more aware of personal and governmental debt. Through interactives, videos, and articles this site will bring a greater understanding of how debt effects individuals and the country. Videos by current stars will make this site an interesting one for students.

tag(s): money (193)

In the Classroom

Though this site is geared toward college students, it would be a great addition to any economics, math, or social studies class. Use the national debt clock to see how quickly we are accumulating debt and how much every individual is responsible for. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector and share the informational videos for the class to see. Have students journal a response to the videos. In groups have students read the government and people section and using a web 2.0 tool like Voki reviewed here have students choose a presidential figure to tell how they will solve the nation's debt problem. Place the link to the site on your class webpage so students can take the debt quiz or play the debt ski activity.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Learn About Congress - Indiana University

Grades
6 to 12
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The Indiana University Center on Congress has prepared a series of learning modules to teach students about the role, history, and responsibilities of the US Congress. Access each of...more
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The Indiana University Center on Congress has prepared a series of learning modules to teach students about the role, history, and responsibilities of the US Congress. Access each of the modules separately, or consider the summary module that incorporates the other, more in-depth modules. Each module functions as a popup, so be sure you have your popup blocker turner off.

tag(s): branches of government (48), congress (33)

In the Classroom

Use these mini lessons on an interactive whiteboard or projector as an introduction to the roles and responsibility of Congress in a history, civics, government or current events class. This could also be part of in-depth looks at all three branches of government. As an alternative, students can work independently or in small groups on these modules, and then report back to the class as a whole on what they've learned. Have groups create podcasts about Congress using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Futurestates - Independent Television Service

Grades
9 to 12
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing ...more
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing students for their lives as adults. This series of short films presents some of the most compelling "what ifs" about the future: What would happen if only the very wealthy could afford housing? What impact will immigration have? Will virtual reality become indistinguishable from true reality? While these short films (and the questions and discussions they might generate) may not fit neatly into any particular curriculum, they offer great value in helping young adults struggle with the possibilities of their future.

tag(s): computers (94), debate (41), environment (317), ethics (16), immigration (58), migration (59)

In the Classroom

These films would work well for a more unstructured gifted/talented seminar style class, a current issues class, or a Real Life 101-type class. Some may also be appropriate within an economics, biology, or environmental science curriculum. A civics class might debate the proper governmental role in resolving some of the dilemmas presented. Challenge students to create podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here), describing other possible future "what ifs."
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Poll everywhere - Poll everywhere

Grades
6 to 12
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Create polls that can be answered online or through the use of text messaging. Voters submit answers by sending SMS messages to a short number. Poll everywhere tallies the responses...more
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Create polls that can be answered online or through the use of text messaging. Voters submit answers by sending SMS messages to a short number. Poll everywhere tallies the responses which can then be accessed and viewed. Use the free plan for no more than 30 votes. Create a powerpoint or keynote slide of the poll results and create charts that can be embedded into a web page. Simple and easy to use!

tag(s): quiz (85), quizzes (97)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to determine the question and possible responses to generate the poll online. Practice creating your first poll even before creating a login. Enter the suggested question and possible responses to see how the codes are generated and displayed. Respondents text the code word to a specific number displayed on the screen. Be sure to check out the easy to use controls along the side of the screen.

Ask a question. Voters choose from the responses and use the SMS code with their mobile phone to send their vote. Cast a vote also using Twitter or on the Internet. Click the gear icon next to the poll to change the size and color of various aspects of the poll. Use the panel along the side to view either a static or live chart, summary table, or response history. Be sure to click on the tab "Ways People Can Respond" to check not only SMS but other methods as well: Web Voting, Twitter, and Smartphone. Twitter uses @poll followed by a keyword to tabulate responses. Use the "Download as Slide" tab to choose the type of slide you would like to create. "Share and Publish" using Posterous, Twitter, or Blog/web page.

This tool does not show the individual votes of students. Though this tool can be used by students, it may be best used by a teacher.

Use this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge as you start your study by asking questions about the material. Discuss in groups why those in class would choose a particular answer to uncover misconceptions. Use for Daily quiz questions to gain knowledge of student understanding and a means of formative assessment.

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Thought Audio - thoughtaudio.com

Grades
K to 12
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This free audio book site offers classical literature and philosophy books in the public domain for download at no charge. In addition to typical classics, it offers recordings of the...more
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This free audio book site offers classical literature and philosophy books in the public domain for download at no charge. In addition to typical classics, it offers recordings of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, some Mark Twain, and a few Christmas recordings for children including "Twas the Night Before Christmas," "The Gift of the Magi," and "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol."

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers as a reference. Suggest it to students as something they can use on their mp3 players. Share this link on your class website for students and parents to access at home. Learning support teachers may want to use selections from this site as alternatives to reading print literature selections. Play a story on your computer speakers as a listening activity in younger grades.

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Argument Wars - iCivics Inc.

Grades
5 to 10
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This site offers a creative way to teach landmark Supreme Court cases. The site provides five historical court cases for students to argue. Each case is a separate interactive. In ...more
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This site offers a creative way to teach landmark Supreme Court cases. The site provides five historical court cases for students to argue. Each case is a separate interactive. In each activity, students play a lawyer who represents one side in the case. Using supporting documents, students must choose the best argument for the side they are representing. Students "win" the game and case if they score more points than their computer generated opponent.

tag(s): constitution (79), game based learning (103)

In the Classroom

This site is great way to review the amendments of the US Constitution. Using an interactive whiteboard or projector, complete one case as a whole group so students can see how the interactive should work. Use the provided handouts so students can take notes as you are working through the case. When it is time for students to work independently, make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Divide students into cooperative learning groups to explore the site. Afterward have a discussion or have students journal using the provided discussion questions. Why not create a "Argument Wars Wiki" to discuss the cases. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. This site does not have a save feature so students have to complete the entire activity to see if they've won. For students that need more of a challenge, assign them Gideon v. Wainwright. Students have to examine two arguments which makes it more challenging.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Do I Have a Right? - iCivics Inc.

Grades
5 to 10
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In this interactive role playing game, students take on the role of a lawyer starting a new business. Students take on cases, hire lawyers and try to grow their business. ...more
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In this interactive role playing game, students take on the role of a lawyer starting a new business. Students take on cases, hire lawyers and try to grow their business. To be successful, they must understand constitutional amendments. Students can earn prestige points by successfully interacting with clients and winning cases. In order to have a thriving law practice, students have to hire lawyers that are familiar with various amendments. Lesson plans and after-activity PowerPoints are provided.

tag(s): constitution (79), game based learning (103)

In the Classroom

This site is great way to review the amendments of the US Constitution. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Divide students into cooperative learning groups to explore the site. Working in groups have a class competition to see who can win the most cases and achieve the most prestige points. Afterward, have a discussion about the process each group used to build their law firm. This site does not have a save feature so the teacher should set a duration for play. Built in help makes this site useful for students who might need some additional guidance. Use the final score printout to assign your students a grade.

To fully involve students in their "law firm," have them create a firm logo and "shingle" using an online graphics tool such as Supalogo, reviewed here. Print the logos for classroom decorations or have students upload them to law firm pages on on your class wiki.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Youth Leadership Initiative - Center for Politics - University of Virginia

Grades
3 to 12
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This site is a civic education program that encourages students to be involved in the electoral and policy making process of the US government. Through interactive multimedia, the site...more
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This site is a civic education program that encourages students to be involved in the electoral and policy making process of the US government. Through interactive multimedia, the site offers technology-based civic education resources that foster long-term civic engagement. There are parts of this site that are available to non-members, while other features are "member only." Membership requires name of school, email, and address. Teachers and curriculum leaders can sign up for a free account, and approval takes 2 - 3 days. Once approved, you will have access to several multimedia rich content areas.

tag(s): congress (33), elections (75), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Use the site with an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students work in cooperative groups and take part in the mock congress. They will develop critical thinking and collaboration skills as they research, draft, and pass original legislation. Use the downloadable campaign simulation software (free), and have your students role play and run a senatorial campaign.
br> If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
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The Lincoln Log - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Grades
4 to 10
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This site provides a daily chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln. Information can be accessed by conducting a general search, by year, using a calendar to search, or by ...more
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This site provides a daily chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln. Information can be accessed by conducting a general search, by year, using a calendar to search, or by clicking on search this day. Links to supporting documents and additional information is embedded in the entries.

tag(s): lincoln (86), primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

This site will fit perfectly into any social studies or history class. Have students explore this site independently or in small groups. If used independently put the site on a classroom computer and use as a center. Create a class job for a student called Historian. They can check the website to see what was happening that day and report it to the class. Have students choose an event from the site, find an image of Lincoln and upload it to Blabberize reviewed here They can then have Lincoln "talk" about an important day of his life.

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Debategraph - Thoughtgraph, Ltd.

Grades
9 to 12
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Use this decision-making visualization to outline the strongest case currently in a debate. This visualization tool follows the debates to show public transparency in the issues. Click...more
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Use this decision-making visualization to outline the strongest case currently in a debate. This visualization tool follows the debates to show public transparency in the issues. Click on the bubbles in the graph to expand them into other areas. Hover over areas of the bubble to read information about the topic. Visit the gallery to find all of the possible debates. View all visualizations without logging in. You can find maps using a key (issue, position, supportive/argument, and more). Members can also use this tool to create maps by clicking the "Create map" link. Create a login to be able to rate aspects of the visualizations. Login requires an email address.

tag(s): debate (41)

In the Classroom

Use this resource to view various viewpoints and information about topics in the public eye. Use to create subtopics to be investigated in a class debate. Use the process to delve deeper into debates created by the class. Create visualizations using organizational software to help students follow through on all aspects of a debate topic. If you are having students log-in, rather than using your personal or work email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
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9/11: The Day that Changed America - CBS News

Grades
7 to 12
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These collections of stories and interactives from CBS have information about the effects of 9/11 as well as a few stories explaining the historical context behind September 11th. They...more
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These collections of stories and interactives from CBS have information about the effects of 9/11 as well as a few stories explaining the historical context behind September 11th. They also host information about the victims, coverage about the opening of the new Trade Center, and information about the re-building efforts on ground zero. To see a montage of the events that led up to 9/11, check out While America Slept, at here.

tag(s): sept11 (21)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a cooperative learning activity during a lesson or unit on the events of September 11th or as part of a broader discussion on international relations, terrorism, or the role of government in balancing personal liberties and national security. Create a graphic organizer to guide students through the site (or have them create their own in small groups), highlighting what's most important and the important facts and details. For help creating easy graphic organizers, try using Graphic Organizer Maker reviewed here or bubbl.us, reviewed here.
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While America Slept - The True Story of 9/11 - CBS News

Grades
7 to 12
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Often times students only hear about the catastrophe of 9/11, and not the events that lead up to it. Although it's a little "plain vanilla," this site from ABC offers ...more
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Often times students only hear about the catastrophe of 9/11, and not the events that lead up to it. Although it's a little "plain vanilla," this site from ABC offers a contextual timeline about the events leading up to 9/11. Starting from August 11, 2001, the timeline details what America was doing and what the hijackers were doing, day-by-day, and shows how CIA analysts and FBI agents try to sound the alarm about the rising threat, and were ignored.

tag(s): sept11 (21)

In the Classroom

Use this site on the interactive whiteboard or projector to show students the context of the day. During a class discussion, display the timeline on a projector or interactive whiteboard for students to see and navigate together. Read the details aloud, or have student volunteers take turns reading the events aloud. Make sure that between each event you provide some sort of explanation, i.e. who the people mentioned are and what the significance was of each action. Include this discussion as you study the role of government in the protection of its citizens and balancing individual liberties with national security. Assign students to create multimedia posters on GlogsterEDU, reviewed here showing the conflicting roles of government.

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