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Foreign War and Domestic Freedom: A Delicate Balance - PBS

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9 to 12
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This site, connected with the PBS show NOW, provides a lesson plan on civil liberties. The lesson plan is largely centered around the viewing of a segment on NOW, ...more
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This site, connected with the PBS show NOW, provides a lesson plan on civil liberties. The lesson plan is largely centered around the viewing of a segment on NOW, and provides worksheets for summarizing the panel discussion contained in the segment. However, there are links to some other nice resources: a brief PowerPoint presentation on civil liberties, a nice animated clip (produced by Libertarians) illustrating how civil liberties denied during difficult times can threaten society, an overview of historical periods in the US when civil liberties were restricted, and a timeline of restrictions since September 11.

In the Classroom

The links to resources on this site are probably of more value than the lesson plan itself. Each of them would serve as a good introduction or illustration in a more general discussion of civil liberties in a high school civics, history or government course. There are also two very nifty on-line quizzes that evaluate your general political ideology after answering a few questions about your views on government.
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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: Checks and Balances in Supreme Court Nominations - PBS

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7 to 12
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This site is affiliated with the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and presents a lesson plan focused on Supreme Court nominations and the ongoing balance of power in the US ...more
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This site is affiliated with the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and presents a lesson plan focused on Supreme Court nominations and the ongoing balance of power in the US government. There are excellent discussion guides, a link to streaming video from the NewsHour, with an accompanying transcript that can be distributed, and a PDF version of a Chicago Tribune article on the issue. There is a nice vocabulary list. There is a good handout on the process of nominating a Supreme Court judge and a worksheet that accompanies it.

tag(s): supreme court (22)

In the Classroom

There is a really nice "balance of powers" exercise that goes way beyond a simple discussion of the Supreme Court. Students look at all three branches of government and determine which branch has power in a variety of contemporary situations. This lesson plan is good as a stand-alone, but also provides a lot of jumping off places for further discussion and adaptation. Use a projector, as the plan suggests, to share the short video clips, available in several formats.
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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: The United Nations and Reform - PBS

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9 to 12
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This site, connected to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, looks at efforts and rationale for reform at the United Nations. There is an overview of the history of ...more
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This site, connected to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, looks at efforts and rationale for reform at the United Nations. There is an overview of the history of the United Nations, including a nice PDF handout for students. The second part focuses on some of the organizational challenges faced by the UN and asks whether the UN is addressing the issues it was designed for.

tag(s): united nations (8)

In the Classroom

The information provided is fairly dense, and the issues and discussion of reform are probably beyond the scope of a general history class. However, the historical information would be useful for a more general audience, and the questions related to reform would be suitable for an upper level class on civics, government or modern US history.
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The Inconvenient Truth: Take Action - Inconvenient Truth

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6 to 12
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Take action against global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. Start by using this site's CO2 calculator to estimate your personal impact on the environment and check out the...more
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Take action against global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. Start by using this site's CO2 calculator to estimate your personal impact on the environment and check out the things you can do in your home and travels to improve your behavior. Note: this site is the companion to the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and gets a large amount of traffic, making it very slow to operate at peak times. You may want to use it as a whole-class activity or at-home enrichment if it is running slowly for you at the time you choose to use it.

tag(s): energy (198), environment (317), ozone (10)

In the Classroom

Warn your students not to venture into the portion of the site where they are "purchasing" contributions to i=offset their CO2 emissions. Instead, ask them to figure out which of their behaviors causes the worst pollution. Have them do a family survey at home to calculate what the family can do.

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Dimming the Sun - NOVA/WGBH

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6 to 12
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NOVA provides a wide array of information on global dimming, a crisis due to the masking effect of pollution on the true impact of global warming. See interactive timelines of ...more
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NOVA provides a wide array of information on global dimming, a crisis due to the masking effect of pollution on the true impact of global warming. See interactive timelines of global change, some creative pollution solutions, and more. There is a complete teacher's guide, including hands-on classroom activities and extensive related links. This site is a companion to the PBS television broadcast.

tag(s): climate (92), climate change (64), earth (228), earth day (112), pollution (66), sun (71)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a starting point for your discussion of global warming and environmental issues or as a research source for student projects. The interactive timeline would display well on a projector or interactive whiteboard to give students the "big picture" they so rarely have on their own.

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The History of the Supreme Court - PBS and New York Life

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8 to 12
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This site has been designed as a companion to an upcoming public television series on the Supreme Court, but it stands on its own for classroom use. Information on ...more
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This site has been designed as a companion to an upcoming public television series on the Supreme Court, but it stands on its own for classroom use. Information on the site indicates that further content will be added. The site is divided into several main themes: The history of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court and basic rights, the Supreme Court and gender, the Supreme Court and young people, and the Supreme Court today. Promised further content will cover the Supreme Court and race and the Supreme Court and economics and commerce. Each theme is highlighted with an introductory essay and questions for discussion. Themes also have a set of teacher resources, links to other web sites and lesson plans. Don't miss the interactive time line and comprehensive encyclopedia of terms. The theme on the Supreme Court and gender includes rich resources for Women's History month.

tag(s): bill of rights (28), courts (15), supreme court (22), women (101)

In the Classroom

Use this site or specific themes as the basis for an entire unit on the Supreme Court or for focused lessons: Japanese internment camps, the conflict between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists, child labor laws, and many more. You can assign different students to different sides of issues for research on the site or use it as an overview with a projector in a teacher-centered discussion.

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Lessons from - PBS/KCET

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6 to 12
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This is the starting page for a collection of five lesson plans to accompany the series "How Art Made the World." The programs and lessons examine the use of art ...more
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This is the starting page for a collection of five lesson plans to accompany the series "How Art Made the World." The programs and lessons examine the use of art to communicate - whether about religion, politics, even advertising - as societies and cultures have developed. Each lesson includes web links to examples, but surprisingly, the site itself lacks much of the visual impact one might expect to find.

tag(s): images (266), propaganda (12)

In the Classroom

These lessons would be great interdisciplinary "idea banks" for classes in art, world cultures, or government.
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Terrorism and the Web - Washington Post

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9 to 12
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This is a chilling study of the ways in which terrorist groups make use of the Internet and the web to further their ambitions. While it has sensational elements, it ...more
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This is a chilling study of the ways in which terrorist groups make use of the Internet and the web to further their ambitions. While it has sensational elements, it is also an excellent example of propaganda and the use of technology for less-than-noble causes. NOTE: The site contains graphic material. Please PREVIEW THOROUGHLY before using this site.

tag(s): propaganda (12), terrorism (49), terrorist (16)

In the Classroom

Government, English, and AP world cultues teachers could use this site to frame a discussion about censorship, regulation of technology, and other issues.
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Choices - Brown University

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10 to 12
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Secondary world cultures and government teachers will find a rich resource in Brown University's Choices program - lessons based on current international political situations. Each...more
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Secondary world cultures and government teachers will find a rich resource in Brown University's Choices program - lessons based on current international political situations. Each offers background and alternatives, then asks students to formulate effective responses and support their conclusions.

tag(s): air (163), politics (99)

In the Classroom

While ideal for an AP class, students at many levels can benefit from working with problems that have no obvious "right" answers. This site offers much to think about.

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Natural Resources Defense Council

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6 to 12
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The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a site for both animals and controversy, as this site demonstrates. NRDC's site is a well-done treatment of an important national resource, but...more
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The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a site for both animals and controversy, as this site demonstrates. NRDC's site is a well-done treatment of an important national resource, but with a point of view. As such, teachers may find it useful in studying both the science of the Arctic and the government and political issues surrounding how we use our natural resources.

tag(s): arctic (44)

In the Classroom

Try having students compare information on this site with other web sites about the ANWR. How do these sites differ in their presentation?

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Students Concerned by U.S. Plan to Sell Trees - New York Times

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4 to 12
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This New York Times article highlights a class of sixth graders in North Carolina that has gotten directly involved in questioning a proposal to sell timber in a national forest ...more
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This New York Times article highlights a class of sixth graders in North Carolina that has gotten directly involved in questioning a proposal to sell timber in a national forest near their homes. The letters class members wrote provoked an unusual response.

In the Classroom

Try using this story as a springboard to a discussion about government and citizen involvement. Is there an issue or project about which your students feel strongly? What can they do to affect the outcome?

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Grading on a Curve - New York Times

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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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Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary - Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

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7 to 12
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Much more than a biographical resource, this site is filled with interactive treasures and multimedia features. Click on "Online Exhibition" to access a wealth of visual treats and...more
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Much more than a biographical resource, this site is filled with interactive treasures and multimedia features. Click on "Online Exhibition" to access a wealth of visual treats and activities. Set type and print your name on an 18th century printing press, listen to the wisdom of Silence Dogood, or test your knowledge of classic Franklin proverbs and aphorisms. This is an outstanding tribute to the legacy of one of America's most beloved founding fathers.

tag(s): colonial america (107), franklin (12)

In the Classroom

Beyond the items mentioned in the review, this site has a variety of free lesson plans offered for grades k-12. They also list several programs and free resources that can help teachers find more information about Franklin.

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GOV.com - GOV.com

Grades
9 to 12
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Need an honest, unbiased resource on government news and policy? Tap into this site that delivers verifiable information on everything from FBI press releases, to travel warnings, to...more
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Need an honest, unbiased resource on government news and policy? Tap into this site that delivers verifiable information on everything from FBI press releases, to travel warnings, to White House statements. No media editing, opinion, or commentary provided! Let your students add that!

In the Classroom

Enrich a current events discussion with this resource. Compare what is heard and seen by students in the media with the facts that appear on this site.

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Indivisible - Duke University

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8 to 12
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The real-life struggles and stories of Americans living in twelve diverse communities are highlighted in this multimedia documentary. Through photographs and recorded voices, visitors...more
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The real-life struggles and stories of Americans living in twelve diverse communities are highlighted in this multimedia documentary. Through photographs and recorded voices, visitors to this site can catch a glimpse of the community spirit that compels individuals to find ways to improve their lives and surroundings.

tag(s): communities (35)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a springboard to a class project. Ask your students to document the community spirit in their own town, city, or neighborhood using photography, video, and personal interviews.

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New Sense, Inc. vs. Fish Till U Drop - EconEdLink

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9 to 12
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Here's an economics lesson for high school students that explores the rights of individuals versus the obligations of government to preserve and protect natural resources. The site...more
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Here's an economics lesson for high school students that explores the rights of individuals versus the obligations of government to preserve and protect natural resources. The site presents opposing economic theories and asks students to evaluate the merits of each as they apply to a hypothetical example. While written as an economics lesson, this example could also work as part of a government class. Aligned to national standards.

tag(s): natural resources (59), resources (112)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of this free lesson plan about the economics of natural resources. Be sure to save the site as a favorite on your classroom computer to allow for easy retrieval later on.

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9/11 - Voices of Reflection - NPR

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6 to 12
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This collection of first-person accounts, reflections, and musical offerings makes an interesting retrospective on the September 11 attacks, and one that classes can listen and react...more
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This collection of first-person accounts, reflections, and musical offerings makes an interesting retrospective on the September 11 attacks, and one that classes can listen and react to together. These recordings could offer a variety of ways in which to focus a discussion of those events.

tag(s): sept11 (21)

In the Classroom

Use some of the first hand accounts as a way to teach both about primary sources and the events of 9/11. Divide the class into cooperative learning groups, preferably with 4-5 differing groups. Assign each group a different primary source from the site, with the intentions of presenting a summary to the class. Once all the groups have presented their summaries, play a quick game "survivor" style in which students defend their pieces by validity and reliability. Have a representative from each group go to the front of the classroom, presenting a brief argument where theirs is the most reliable source. After each has presented, have the class vote off sources in rounds until there is only one left! This is a fun way to both teach the content & incorporate historical thinking skills.

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Records Pertaining to John G. Roberts - National Archives

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9 to 12
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This collection of records of the professional career of John Roberts offers an interesting, if daunting, primary resource for examining the Supreme Court nominee's past decisions....more
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This collection of records of the professional career of John Roberts offers an interesting, if daunting, primary resource for examining the Supreme Court nominee's past decisions. AP history or government students may find this one a useful research tool.

tag(s): supreme court (22)

In the Classroom

Too often in the upper levels students have extreme problems interpreting and comprehending decisions and memorandums written by Congress of the Supreme Court. Use this site to help students get accustomed and assimilated to the language and writing style commonly used in Judicial writings. And activity such as this would be useful before interpreting important court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Brown v Board of Education. Open the site on the interactive whiteboard or projector, and open one of the memorandums written by Judge Roberts. Analyze with students each of the seperate sections or paragraph to give them familiarity. Teachers can leave it at this, or have students practice writing their own memorandums after wards, using one of his as an example.

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John Roberts Nominated as Chief Justice - NPR

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6 to 12
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NPR's collection of stories about the Roberts nomination includes background on his career, a look at the confirmation process, and discussions of Roberts and the rare opportunity to...more
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NPR's collection of stories about the Roberts nomination includes background on his career, a look at the confirmation process, and discussions of Roberts and the rare opportunity to fill two court vacancies. Useful for individual or group use.

tag(s): senate (9), supreme court (22)

In the Classroom

Though there have been judges nominated and appointed more recently than Roberts, this site provides some excellent information that makes it a great resource for a lesson on judicial nominations. Use this site as a hands-on activity after a class discussion or lecture on the topic. Have cooperative learning groups explore the site with the intentions of showing how Roberts moved through the processes to become a judge. Have students create graphic organizers or concept maps demonstrating the process. Use a tool such as bubbl.us (reviewed here) to create and share the concept maps.

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Stand and Be Heard - Tracy Hamner and Carolyn Constantakis

Grades
9 to 12
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Picture this: The high school in which you teach has hired an expert in criminal profiling to survey the student body with the intent of identifying potential future criminals. ...more
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Picture this: The high school in which you teach has hired an expert in criminal profiling to survey the student body with the intent of identifying potential future criminals. After reading through the survey, students are upset by this blatant invasion of personal privacy and decide to stage a protest. This WebQuest presents such a scenario, then asks students to research and select the style of "civil disobedience" that would be most appropriate and effective for resisting this policy. Aligned to Standards.

tag(s): webquests (29)

In the Classroom

For the presentation, consider having students use Google Docs Presentation, reviewed here. This allows for easy feedback & sharing, and saves time from waiting for PowerPoint presentations to upload.

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