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The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country? - National Endowment for the Humanities

Grades
3 to 6
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The cherished right of Freedom of Speech is carefully analyzed in this thoughtful unit plan that illustrates the delicate balance between rights and responsibilities in a free society....more
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The cherished right of Freedom of Speech is carefully analyzed in this thoughtful unit plan that illustrates the delicate balance between rights and responsibilities in a free society. A series of six lessons guides upper elementary students through an authentic scenario in which the expressive rights of individuals are in question, provides connections to constitutional interpretations, and analyzes related Supreme Court cases. Aligned to Standards.

tag(s): bill of rights (28), freedom of speech (10), speech (92)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of this free lesson plan about the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights! To help ELL students, share the vocabulary with them beforehand OR make and print out easy to understand definitions of words that these students may have trouble with. Be sure to save this site as a favorite to allow for easy retrieval later on.

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Watergate Revisited - Washington Post

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7 to 12
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The unmasking of "deep throat," the shadowy informant in the Watergate saga, has prompted a new wave of interest in the sandal that changed American government forever. This retrospective...more
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The unmasking of "deep throat," the shadowy informant in the Watergate saga, has prompted a new wave of interest in the sandal that changed American government forever. This retrospective from the Washington Post provides not only a current summary, but a review of the original coverage, from the newspaper that broke the story.

tag(s): 1970s (12), water (130)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Have students explore the site with the intentions of creating a summary of the most important events. Have cooperative learning groups create online books using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here. Students can write the book from the perspective of Nixon or Deep throat...a great way to introduce the topic in a non-lecture format.

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History Explorer - Smithsonian

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6 to 12
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This multimedia site explores various facets of American history through Lessons, interactives, Themes and more. Visitors can view objects that are part of the Smithsonian collection,...more
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This multimedia site explores various facets of American history through Lessons, interactives, Themes and more. Visitors can view objects that are part of the Smithsonian collection, navigate between historical eras, or filter the information by selected themes (Arts and Culture, Politics and Reform, etc.) Items in the exhibit are linked to National Museum of American History websites that provide more in-depth information.

tag(s): agriculture (55), american revolution (86), famous people (19), japan (61), japanese (42), jazz (15), lincoln (86), politics (99)

In the Classroom

Use this site as the starting point for individual or group projects. There is enough information in "exhibit" details to provide a starting point for students trying to decide what to base a research project on. Recommend the site to students who are having difficulty picking a project subject.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Foreign War and Domestic Freedom - Public Affairs Television

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9 to 12
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Should government restrict the civil liberties of its citizens during times of war or threatened national security? This beautifully organized lesson plan guides students in an exploration...more
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Should government restrict the civil liberties of its citizens during times of war or threatened national security? This beautifully organized lesson plan guides students in an exploration of the tensions that exist between external threats and internal liberties in democratic societies. Includes a downloadable PowerPoint show and worksheets.

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plan during a unit on the homefront during a modern war or the construction of the Constitution. Save this one as a favorite to allow for easy retrieval.

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Painless Guide to the Branches of Government: Judicial Branch - United Learning

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5 to 8
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This nineteen minute streaming video focuses on the judicial branch, but also gives a brief historical overview of legislative and executive responsibilities. Includes a nice summarizing...more
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This nineteen minute streaming video focuses on the judicial branch, but also gives a brief historical overview of legislative and executive responsibilities. Includes a nice summarizing review and video quiz. Display full screen for projection in the classroom or use with headphones in the computer lab.

tag(s): courts (15), supreme court (22)

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Face to Face: Stories from an Aftermath of Infamy - ITVS

Grades
8 to 12
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This collection of real-life stories from Japanese Americans and Arab and Muslim Americans explores the issues of civil liberties in the wake of two days that changed the world forever...more
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This collection of real-life stories from Japanese Americans and Arab and Muslim Americans explores the issues of civil liberties in the wake of two days that changed the world forever - December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001. Racial hatred, fear, distrust, national loyalty, and the validity of constitutional rights are just a few of the complex issues addressed in the riveting audio interviews. A series of lesson plans guides teachers and students through a comparison of how America responded to these two ethnic groups after the two respective tragedies.

tag(s): racism (18), sept11 (21), terrorism (49), world war 2 (142)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities hosted on this site. The oral interviews would make a great in-class activity, playing them over the projector or interactive whiteboard. Select a section and play the interviews, usually around 5-10 minutes total. Have students listen to the interviews, and write or discuss a response afterwards. Very moving interviews, making a solid base for a class discussion on racism and the effects of globalization.

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FBI Kids' Page

Grades
2 to 5
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Take a virtual field trip through the FBI with this interactive site that provides an excellent overview of the organization and its many functions. Students can learn about fingerprinting,...more
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Take a virtual field trip through the FBI with this interactive site that provides an excellent overview of the organization and its many functions. Students can learn about fingerprinting, DNA analysis, polygraph tests, and much more. Each informational segment is followed by a printable review game. The links to Safety Tips, Working Dogs, and Games are also worth exploring.

tag(s): dna (69), forensics (27)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a learning center or station during a lesson on the government and how they enforce the laws. Introduce the site over the interactive whiteboard before allowing cooperative learning groups to participate in the online field trip. To summarize the topic, or to give groups who finish first something to do, let students play the games available after the field trip. Though they may not be rich in content, they do provide a review and respite for students.
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Kids and Teens Action without Borders - Action Without Borders

Grades
3 to 12
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This site presents thoughtful and inspiring ways for kids to take an active role in improving the community around them. Click on the "Take a Lead" link for practical ways ...more
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This site presents thoughtful and inspiring ways for kids to take an active role in improving the community around them. Click on the "Take a Lead" link for practical ways to turn your ideas into reality. Plenty of real-life examples are provided, but some creative brainstorming in your classroom is a must. Dozens of lesson plans, covering everything from environmental issues to economics and human rights are provided in the "For Teachers" section.

tag(s): civil rights (117)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site in a civics or government course in order to show students how important political awareness and activism can be - and how they can get involved. Dependent on your class, it may not be important to advocate that they join the cause - but more introduce it and let them know that they can. This might be better at the end of a civics course, culminating all the information they have learned thus far and showing a practical application of it.

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Declaration of Independence - National Archives

Grades
7 to 12
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The National Archives has created an intriguing site that reveals some little known information about this historic document. Discover the number of signers who were born in Europe,...more
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The National Archives has created an intriguing site that reveals some little known information about this historic document. Discover the number of signers who were born in Europe, meet the signer who was a musician, and find out who was the youngest at the time of the signing. A special feature allows you to add your own signature to the document. Also includes a time line detailing the creation of the document.

tag(s): american revolution (86), declaration of independence (13), evolution (100)

In the Classroom

Use the "Meet the founding fathers" section as the basis of character roles for a in-class town hall meeting, recreating the events of the constitutional convention. Assign students different roles, i.e. founding fathers, and have them use the biographies of this site to allow them to research who their role was and what their beliefs were for a debate as to whether or not to sign the Declaration of Independence. If students stick to their assigned perspectives, the town-hall meeting can be a great way to review the important reasons for independence and the various perspectives that existed.
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The Choice 2004 - PBS Frontline

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8 to 12
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Differences between the two presidential candidates are highlighted in this site that examines their lives, experiences, and world views. Dozens of interviews with colleagues, family,...more
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Differences between the two presidential candidates are highlighted in this site that examines their lives, experiences, and world views. Dozens of interviews with colleagues, family, and adversaries are included, along with a chronology of each man's life. Portions of the companion television special can be viewed online.

Although this resource was created for the 2004 Presidential election, the background information, interviews, and links are valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history.

tag(s): elections (75)

In the Classroom

Government teachers teaching about the past few election OR attempting to provide examples of the two party system will appreciate this site. The site has information about Bush & Kerry's political beliefs that can be easily compared to show the differences between the two parties. As a class, compare with a tool such as Venn Diagram on the Interactive Whiteboard or projector. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here).

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What the World Thinks of America - Guardian Unlimited

Grades
9 to 12
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Current Events, U.S. Government, U.S. History - Use this site to generate some heated discussion in your classroom, if you dare, and bring a global view to the 2004 Presidential ...more
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Current Events, U.S. Government, U.S. History - Use this site to generate some heated discussion in your classroom, if you dare, and bring a global view to the 2004 Presidential election. Although this resource was created for the 2004 election, the information is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. Summary articles and survey results from polls conducted throughout the world provide insight into peoples' opinions of the policies, president and people of the United States.

tag(s): foreign policy (16)

In the Classroom

Although the information is a little out of date, this could be useful for discussing the impact of globalization on American Politics. Share the site on the interactive whiteboard or projector, using it to start a discussion as to why this is important. Teachers can also use the information as a writing prompt. Pull up the results of the poll on the interactive whiteboard and have students write a short essay as to whether or not the results surprised them, what this could mean, and how this impacts foreign relations. This would be useful in either a civics or history class.

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FactCheck - Annenberg Public Policy Center

Grades
8 to 12
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This searchable, nonpartisan site analyzes and comments on the claims and statements made by U.S. politicians. TV ads, political debates, interviews, and speeches are carefully examined...more
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This searchable, nonpartisan site analyzes and comments on the claims and statements made by U.S. politicians. TV ads, political debates, interviews, and speeches are carefully examined to uncover distortions, misstatements, and mangled facts. A great resource to incorporate into a lesson on the 2008 election process. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): elections (75), news (261)

In the Classroom

After presidential debates, go to Fact Check to see what was true and what was "stretched." Have students use this site for research about the candidates.
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Perspectives on Terrorism - Terrorism Research Initiative

Grades
10 to 12
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When does a freedom fighter or revolutionary become a terrorist? That's the central question in this presentation that introduces the issues of international law and cooperation that...more
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When does a freedom fighter or revolutionary become a terrorist? That's the central question in this presentation that introduces the issues of international law and cooperation that bear on the global pursuit of terrorists. The site combines multimedia presentations, web content, and extensive external links to help students understand the premises behind international cooperation, and the ways in which terrorism tests the limits of that cooperation.

tag(s): iran (12), iraq (32), terrorism (49), terrorist (16)

In the Classroom

Try this one in an AP government or history class, or as part of a World Cultures unit.
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Political Commercials: Leading or Misleading Voters - PBS News Hour

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9 to 12
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Critical thinking and current events come together in this well-planned lesson that asks students to analyze political commercials and look for logical fallacies. After examining the...more
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Critical thinking and current events come together in this well-planned lesson that asks students to analyze political commercials and look for logical fallacies. After examining the techniques used in the commercials, students use a storyboard template to plan their own commercials for fictitious candidates. As an extension activity, coordinate a video project, and record your students' original political commercials. Downloadable handouts and worksheets are provided. Aligned to National Council for the Social Studies Standards.

tag(s): elections (75), politics (99)

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Kids in the House - Office of the Clerk, U.S. Capitol

Grades
4 to 8
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This site introduces students to the role of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and then takes them on an entertaining journey that culminates in an understanding of America's...more
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This site introduces students to the role of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and then takes them on an entertaining journey that culminates in an understanding of America's legislative system. The structure of Congress and the process by which a bill becomes a law are presented, along with a collection of fun facts, activities and puzzles. Click on "Time Traveler" to discover important people, events, and works of art that have played a role in the history of the House. Students can even take virtual tours of Capitol Hill, the House Chamber, and Statuary Hall. This site requires FLASH player for the site to work.

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

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities hosted on this site. The plans are all separated by grade level, and range from elementary school to high school. All utilize the site and are great for a government or civics class.
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Zoom Out the Vote! - WGBH

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2 to 5
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The democratic process and importance of voting are highlighted in this fun and informative site that involves students in a "kids only" election. The site also includes tips for ...more
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The democratic process and importance of voting are highlighted in this fun and informative site that involves students in a "kids only" election. The site also includes tips for getting adults to register to vote and a crash course on the American election process.

tag(s): elections (75)

In the Classroom

During a lesson on the democratic process, have students "vote" on the site to practice the theories learned in class! Teachers can also use the election 101 as a learning center or station to help students review the information. Because it summarizes the information so well, this might be a good site to include on a teacher wiki or webpage, allowing students to review the content both in and out of the classroom.

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Vote: The Machinery of Democracy - Smithsonian

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7 to 12
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Voting methods in the United States are examined in this beautifully designed on-line exhibit created by the Museum of American History. The varied practices within individual states...more
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Voting methods in the United States are examined in this beautifully designed on-line exhibit created by the Museum of American History. The varied practices within individual states are explored as well as the historical evolution of our ballots and voting systems. Use this site to help students understand the Florida 2000 crisis, as well as the role technology and innovation have played in shaping our experiences at the polls. Although this resource was created for the 2000 election, the background information is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

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

In the Classroom

Use the interactive exhibition portion of this site as a learning center or station during a unit on the US election process. (extra bonus if your class is specifically studying the 2000 election!)Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts demonstrating their understanding of one of the concepts. Use a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
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Kids' Corner - US Census Bureau

Grades
3 to 6
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This practical research tool provides useful, kid-friendly information about each of the fifty states. Students can learn about the census, discover state-related facts, and test their...more
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This practical research tool provides useful, kid-friendly information about each of the fifty states. Students can learn about the census, discover state-related facts, and test their knowledge with some challenging quiz questions. An interactive map serves as an easy navigational tool to reveal state-by-state information including total population, urban and rural residences, school enrollment, and languages spoken.

tag(s): states (162)

In the Classroom

Use this site during state research. Compare various states and have cooperative learning groups create two circle Venn Diagrams comparing two specific states using a site such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here).
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80 Days that Changed the World - CNN

Grades
8 to 12
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Major events in 20th century history are presented in this impressive CNN site. Visitors can select an era, choose an event, and read a brief synopsis. The video gallery offers ...more
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Major events in 20th century history are presented in this impressive CNN site. Visitors can select an era, choose an event, and read a brief synopsis. The video gallery offers a collection of riveting clips, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the Great Crash of 1929, and the fall of Saigon. Follow the link to a Time Magazine site to find special reports on life-changing events that have taken place over the course of the past eight decades. This is an outstanding supplement to a 20th century American history class.

tag(s): stock market (13), vietnam (36)

In the Classroom

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U.S. Electoral College

Grades
8 to 12
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Most students are a bit fuzzy on the role the Electoral College plays in choosing our president every four years. This site answers many questions in an easy to understand ...more
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Most students are a bit fuzzy on the role the Electoral College plays in choosing our president every four years. This site answers many questions in an easy to understand format. The history behind the system is discussed along with the particulars of its function. An overview of the intricacies of the 2000 election is also provided. This is strictly an informational resource - no bells or whistles - so use your creativity to build a lesson around it.

tag(s): elections (75), politics (99)

In the Classroom

While we're aware this is a public domain site with the reputation of being a bit unreliable, the images on this site would be an excellent resource for government teachers teaching about the Electoral College and its history. Use these images in a lecture or PowerPoint slide to help clarify how the electoral college has functioned in the past.

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