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Essay Exchange Unit - George Cassutto

Grades
9 to 12
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This unit plan gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their writing from a totally impartial source. Students research and write position papers on a variety of topics, working...more
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This unit plan gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their writing from a totally impartial source. Students research and write position papers on a variety of topics, working step by step from to thesis statement to writing. The students then email their papers via e-mail to other schools and students for feedback. The students' final papers are posted to the school's web site for global access.

While this site does give a template of lessons for students to follow as a guide, teachers have a wide range of flexibility with it. Topics can be about anything of your choosing; the length of time given to the lesson and the type and amount of feedback is controlled. While this project started within the subject of Social Studies, this unit can be used in conjunction with any subject.

tag(s): writing (366)

In the Classroom

Teachers can adapt the assignment to use other genres of expression to evaluate student performance. All subject area teachers can integrate the procedures listed to develop on-line projects for their students. The ideal places to post papers for feedback and final publication would be on a blog (for comments) or wiki (for collaborative editing and additions).

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U.S. Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud - Chirag Mehta

Grades
9 to 12
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SHOW your students the changes in U.S. presidential politics and policy over time using this "tag cloud" of word frequencies from presidential speeches (and a few before we even HAD...more
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SHOW your students the changes in U.S. presidential politics and policy over time using this "tag cloud" of word frequencies from presidential speeches (and a few before we even HAD a president) 1776-2007. If you have never seen a tag cloud, it is simply a way of using the relative size of words to show the frequency with which that word appears. Slide the slider across the timeline at the top of the tag cloud to see words appear, shrink, disappear, etc from the language of U.S. leaders over time. Note the introduction of new terms (terrorism) and when they appear. What a marvelous way to build perspective on history and awareness of the importance of rhetoric in the role of a leader.

tag(s): debate (45), elections (78), politics (100), speech (94), speeches (17)

In the Classroom

Share the tag cloud on a projector-- or ideally interactive whiteboard-- as you ask students to hypothesize about the words that appear at key times: the start of a war, after Sept 11, etc. Then include the link on your teacher web page so you can assign them (in or out of class) to write an essay or prepare a visual presentation explaining why certain terms were vital in the political and policy landscape of the times. Using primary sources from the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, students can create multimedia (PowerPoint or video) shows "portraying" a year, decade, or era and the importance of its tagged words (Word art would make a great way to show the words on screen).

With the 2008 presidential election quickly approaching, have students analyze presidential speeches and create their own Speech Tag Clouds about the message. Or have students create a "mock" candidate and then design a "tag cloud" about the candidate.

Note that this tag cloud site DOES identify its sources-- something you want to be sure to highlight to your students. Then ask if students think the choice of sources is the best possible--should it include others?

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Ask the White House - White House and government officials

Grades
8 to 12
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Got a question regarding the economy? Energy efficiency? The military? Trade revenue? Anything? This site, launched in 2003, allows anyone to post a question and ...more
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Got a question regarding the economy? Energy efficiency? The military? Trade revenue? Anything? This site, launched in 2003, allows anyone to post a question and government officials thoroughly and expertly responds. Also, archives of chat discussions can be found through this address. What other place can the average American citizen discuss politics or economics or education or any number of topics with high-ranking officials?

tag(s): news (265), white house (14)

In the Classroom

Civics teachers may want to post key questions from the class and ask students to predict what the response might be. Teachers may ask students to research any of many subjects introduced through the "Ask the White House" questions. Students doing research on civics or economic topics will appreciate the authentic expertise offered by the officials at this site. Of course, some discussion of "netiquette" on phrasing questions would be a good idea! A great follow-up would be a letter-writing activity to government officials, especially to prompt juniors and seniors to become active citizens.

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American Experience: New Orleans - PBS

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6 to 12
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The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent efforts to rebuild the city of New Orleans have brought attention to this distinctive city. This site provides resources for helping...more
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The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent efforts to rebuild the city of New Orleans have brought attention to this distinctive city. This site provides resources for helping students understand its unique history from historical and cultural perspectives.

There are several great interactive resources provided including audio clips and commentary about New Orleans' great musical tradition, and a flash-enabled map showing the growth of the city over time. Whether you're interested in teaching music, particularly American Jazz, or the history of New Orleans' diverse melting pot of cultures or the politics of race in the Katrina recovery process, you will find good content here. Teacher resources include lesson plans on history, civics, music and geography.

tag(s): jazz (15)

In the Classroom

Share the interactive portions on projector and speakers or laptops, as you ask your students to propose a better way for government agencies to prepare for and respond to disasters. Using this site and many others, they can gather evidence to support their proposals. Don't miss the accounts by the Superintendent of the St. Bernard Schools as another source.
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NOVA--World in the Balance - PBS

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6 to 12
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This is a companion site to a PBS series on the forces world wide that are affecting global population. There is a wealth of information here on historical trends ...more
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This is a companion site to a PBS series on the forces world wide that are affecting global population. There is a wealth of information here on historical trends in population growth, the impact of population on the environment, and the continuing imbalance between the rich and the poor in the world. There are flash-enabled slide shows illustrating global population growth over history, and the impact of that growth on the environment. Don't miss the population counter that starts when you load the home page. It shows how many babies are born in the world since the page first loaded, and the impact is startling! A teacher's guide gives further information about using the resources in the classroom.

tag(s): demographics (19), environment (321), population (62)

In the Classroom

Several excellent interactives might make a strong visual impact if used on an interactive whiteboard. There is an interactive quiz that might be a good discussion starter, and matching "game" that shows demographic trends in four contrasting countries: the US, Japan, Kenya and India. These interactives give impact to discussions of the global economy, world wide environmental changes and the balance of power between "developing" and "developed" countries. Put the population counter up on a projector as student enter the room to activate prior knowledge or provide an anticipatory set.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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China Blue - PBS--Independent Lens

Grades
9 to 12
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A companion to an independent film focusing on the conditions facing workers who make blue jeans for the Western market, this site provides information about "sweatshops" in China and...more
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A companion to an independent film focusing on the conditions facing workers who make blue jeans for the Western market, this site provides information about "sweatshops" in China and other developing countries. There is specific information about the sources for several well-known jeans manufacturers, and stories of the young workers in these factories and their brutal working conditions.

The site would be useful in an economics class during a discussion of the emerging global economy. In addition, it would be a good supplement to a discussion of China in general, or as part of a comparison with 19th century sweatshop labor in the United States and the development of the labor union movement. There are also links to other web-based sources on human rights, China, and the global economy.

tag(s): china (68)

In the Classroom

Share the film clips on a projector or whiteboard (in either RealPlayer or Quicktime formats). Discussion could work well in either a whole-class format or in a follow-up small group activity where each group creates a Venn diagram comparing the sweat shops of today with those in Weestern countries in the 19th century.

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EASE History - EASE History

Grades
9 to 12
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EASE History is a novel approach to viewing and learning from historical film clips and photographs. EASE (Experience Acceleration Support Environment) allows students and teachers...more
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EASE History is a novel approach to viewing and learning from historical film clips and photographs. EASE (Experience Acceleration Support Environment) allows students and teachers to search about 600 clips and photos by subject matter, core value subject, and within the special category of presidential campaign ads. Once a category is selected, it is possible to position clips side by side to compare them and discuss, or to thread through a series of ideas by clicking matching icons. The availability of these short film clips is valuable... the interface and ability to draw connections is an added bonus. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): advertising (33)

In the Classroom

Teachers can select clips for use on an interactive whiteboard or projector, or students can explore the site individually by following themes or searching under concepts. The site takes a little time to understand, although students may find it more intuitive. Demonstrate it first to save valuable time. It is designed to encourage flexible thinking styles and student creativity. One small drawback to the site is that the film clips are all quite short; they are designed more to generate discussion than to fully recount the event. Simply showing multiple short clips from an era will help students get a richer experience of the times and perhaps launch a longer lesson.
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When the Personal Becomes Presidential - New York Times Learning Network

Grades
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 (78), presidents (132)

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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Iraq - BBC

Grades
4 to 12
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This site provides information about Iraq and the war. There are information guides, quizzes, pictures and more. The BBC keeps this page very up-to-date. This site does a ...more
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This site provides information about Iraq and the war. There are information guides, quizzes, pictures and more. The BBC keeps this page very up-to-date. This site does a good job explaining the war and views of the war to children. Remember this site was created in Britain, so the comments and language are not American. This may surprise younger students at first but will provide a new angle.

tag(s): iraq (32)

In the Classroom

If you do current events study or have students with family members in Iraq, be sure to include this site as a link from your teacher web page. As the 2008 U.S. elections approach, you may want to begin a "current events" collection of resources for students to use to develop better understanding of election issues.
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Independence Day - TeacherVision

Grades
2 to 8
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Although this site does have annoying advertising, there is also a lot of good stuff for use in the classroom. This site offers numerous printables, online interactive quizzes, Social...more
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Although this site does have annoying advertising, there is also a lot of good stuff for use in the classroom. This site offers numerous printables, online interactive quizzes, Social Studies, Language Arts, Arts and Crafts, and Reference activities. Some of the activities are for "members only", but most of the fun is open to everyone! This site requires Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): july 4th (8)

In the Classroom

Get an interactive whiteboard and test your students' knowledge of Independence Day with the online quizzes.
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Taking It Global - takingitglobal

Grades
8 to 12
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By signing up for a free membership, high school students have an opportunity to enter a network of students from around the world. Even without a membership, students can find ...more
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By signing up for a free membership, high school students have an opportunity to enter a network of students from around the world. Even without a membership, students can find basic information about countries of the world, articles relevant to international youth, places to submit opinion pieces, and opportunities to learn about projects being undertaken by youth to support social justice and humanitarian concerns. A membership to the offerings of this site is a wonderful open door to tolerance and world awareness for young people around the globe. After signing up, members can also see sections for educators.

tag(s): environment (321)

In the Classroom

In the interest of safety, you may want to join as the teacher and have students use your account. Never allow students to set up individual accounts on any site in your classroom without parent permission or the support of your school administration. Assign your world cultures, government, or world language students to steep themselves in the issues of another country or plan a community action project to share as a class.
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Instant Replay--Eye Wonder - South Carolina ETV Commission

Grades
3 to 8
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Do you have students who are always wondering how things work, or are curious about what is entailed in different careers? How cell phones work and how a pit crew ...more
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Do you have students who are always wondering how things work, or are curious about what is entailed in different careers? How cell phones work and how a pit crew works together to maintain a race car in such short time are just two examples of the unusual topics that you will find on this site. The videos (10 minutes or less) look at science and career topics through the eyes of the cameraman. His zany and off-the-wall presentations are sure to keep students watching and asking for more. Some topics, such as Fire Fighter, are also appropriate for units on "community helpers."

tag(s): careers (137), communities (36), dance (28)

In the Classroom

As you start a new unit or lesson, show a video from this site to share a "real world" connection to the topic as an anticipatory set or activator using a projector or interactive whiteboard to hook your students. Save this site in your favorites on a classroom computer for students to view when finished with other work. Have them use it as a writing prompt for journal entries!
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ReadyKids - U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Grades
2 to 6
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This unique site is all about being prepared for emergencies and was created by the Department of Homeland Security. The information is presented in a "Kid Friendly", non-scary manner....more
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This unique site is all about being prepared for emergencies and was created by the Department of Homeland Security. The information is presented in a "Kid Friendly", non-scary manner. Topics include "Creating a Kit", "Making a Plan", "Knowing the Facts", and a "Graduate" quiz. There are also interactive games and resources for students, teacher and parents. Specific emergency situations include tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, floods and terrorism. Some of the activities require FLASH.

tag(s): fire (27), fire safety (12), floods (8), safety (91), sun (72), terrorism (49)

In the Classroom

Get an interactive whiteboard and help your class prepare for severe weather, terrorism and more. Most activities are interactive, educational and fun! Check out the "Parents and Teachers" link for lesson plans, standards, activities and more.
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DNA for Dinner webquest - William E. Peace

Grades
9 to 12
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This webquest provides activities for groups of four students each to learn background, new developments, and legislative impact of genetic engineering. It addresses the controversial...more
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This webquest provides activities for groups of four students each to learn background, new developments, and legislative impact of genetic engineering. It addresses the controversial topic of whether people should eat genetically engineered crops. Each of the students has a separate assignment within the overall webquest. Students learn how to research both sides of a question and provide a balanced, thoughtful examination of a hot topic by using a scientific approach to gain background information, develop critical thinking skills, examine legislative efforts related to the topic, and present findings in an original way. The site includes a grading rubric.

tag(s): engineering (127)

In the Classroom

Divide students carefully into well balanced groups so that they learn not only the topic of genetic engineering, but also the process of researching, analyzing, and presenting findings.

This site would make an excellent "hands-on" activity in a biology class where students can experience both scientific research and policy-making on a first hand basis. If your students are also studying government, they should have an even better sense of the processes involved.

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How the Understanding of US History Changes - National Public Radio

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9 to 12
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This site provides an audio file of an NPR interview with author Kyle Ward ("History in the Making") about the changing interpretation of the Mexican-American War as reflected in history...more
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This site provides an audio file of an NPR interview with author Kyle Ward ("History in the Making") about the changing interpretation of the Mexican-American War as reflected in history text books beginning just after the War up until the present. This discussion illustrates that "history" is often a reflection of the historical context in which it is written. There are also links to three more interviews on the same general topic.

Students are fascinated with the concept that their history text books might be wrong, or biased. Although the interview doesn't mention it, this discussion was also well illustrated in James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me." The seven minute interview might be quite useful in helping advanced students understand that history isn't static, and that any account of a historical "fact" should be considered in light of its context and the political perspective of the times.

In the Classroom

This site would be helpful to students preparing to do research for your class or for National History Day projects which must be developed using primary documents: to illustrate that even primary documents are subject to interpretation and cannot always be accepted at face value!

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Congress For Kids

Grades
4 to 10
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This website provides students with a wealth of information on the federal government. Specific topics include independence, constitution, branches of government, elections and more....more
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This website provides students with a wealth of information on the federal government. Specific topics include independence, constitution, branches of government, elections and more. The "for kids" title inaccurately characterizes some fairly sophisticated topics and vocabulary. There are three quizzes, plus activities on nearly every page. Some of the activities are interactive and require FLASH. This site has won numerous awards - check it out! Some of the text is too challenging for younger students and will require an adult or more able reader.

tag(s): congress (34), constitution (87)

In the Classroom

Try an interactive whiteboard and introduce your students to the United States government. There are numerous interactive activities provided at this website. Then turn them loose to investigate a specific topic or set of questions on their own or with a partner.
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J8 Teacher Resources - J8 Summit

Grades
9 to 12
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This site includes teacher resources related to the J8 competition, which is a program for students from the G8 countries, and gives winning students the chance to participate in a...more
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This site includes teacher resources related to the J8 competition, which is a program for students from the G8 countries, and gives winning students the chance to participate in a "junior" G8 conference. The resources all relate to issues related to global citizenship, the United Nations, and human rights. There are fact sheets on a number of topics, lesson plans, and links to several on-line simulation games.

In the Classroom

Whether students participate in the actual competition or not, there is a lot of good information on this site related to current issues of global citizenship and human rights. Students may find the international focus of the site interesting... there are links to Italian, Canadian, British, French, German, and Japanese curriculum overviews.
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CIA for Kids - CIA

Grades
3 to 12
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Divided into introductions at two levels, K- 5 and 6 - 12, the home pages explain briefly what the CIA does. Sites of interest for children include information ...more
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Divided into introductions at two levels, K- 5 and 6 - 12, the home pages explain briefly what the CIA does. Sites of interest for children include information about the Canine Corps, a story about pigeons, games and a feature on saying no to drugs. Links from the two levels of homepages do not necessarily go to reading matter of the level; for example, the "Who We Are and What We Do" pages require a sophisticated vocabulary and high reading level (9+). Links from features like "Spy-Fi Archives" display some inconsistency in formatting, but the source is a good general one for older children. An extensive book list on drug awareness and abuse prevention is helpful.

In the Classroom

Include this site when studying the three branches of government as a concrete example of one thing the Executive Branch does. Students could explore it on a "scavenger hunt" to learn answers to questions you pose, or the whole class could visit on a projector to learn about what the CIA does. If you ask students to research different government agancies, this would be a great reference site for them to use.

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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 (78), gifted (94)

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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Death and Taxes: A Visual Guide to Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go - Jesse Bachman

Grades
8 to 12
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See a graphical representation of the United States Federal Budget, clickable down to the little details. Although you can order this graphic organizer as a poster, the online version...more
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See a graphical representation of the United States Federal Budget, clickable down to the little details. Although you can order this graphic organizer as a poster, the online version allows you and your class to click and burrow down through the bureaucracy to see where the taxes go. Important note: Patience is worth it in waiting for this site to open (don't even bother on a dial-up). Requires the most current version of FLASH.Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

High demand can make this site slow to open fully. Be patient.

In the Classroom

Definitely place this link on your teacher web site for students to view with their parents at home. In class, consider assigning students to use the site to collect evidence for a debate on the size of government or simply open it and navigate as a class on an interactive whiteboard as you discuss the branches of government. You will be amazed what you find using this medium so "native" to your students.

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