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NPR: Election 2008 - National Public Radio

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6 to 12
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Sifting through the volume of information on the 2008 Presidential elections could be a full-time job! If you want a handful of sites that give you current, unbiased (as much ...more
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Sifting through the volume of information on the 2008 Presidential elections could be a full-time job! If you want a handful of sites that give you current, unbiased (as much as any political information can be!) data about the election, consider using this NPR site. It starts with a flash-enabled US map that is currently reflecting the status of primaries and caucuses. You can link to a nice side-by-side comparison of candidates' views on central issues like Iraq, the economy, health care, and climate change. There is a helpful primary calendar that keeps you posted on where we are in the process. Finally, there is updated news and commentary about the campaign season. This site requires FLASH, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

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

In the Classroom

Of course, civics and government teachers focus on Presidential elections past and present and will find this site quite useful. Other teachers who regularly do "current events" discussions can also find simple, direct, and up-to-date information that can be used to inform, debate, or share on an interactive whiteboard. Make this site a Favorite and share it on your teacher web page for students to use for research on individual candidate platforms. Encourage students to check the site regularly for updates. Use it to help students stage a mock debate or mock election.
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Kidlink - Kidlink

Grades
3 to 12
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This website provides an online connection to students from various areas of the world. There are links provided for students, families, and teachers. The website is available in various...more
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This website provides an online connection to students from various areas of the world. There are links provided for students, families, and teachers. The website is available in various languages - English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. Students can share stories, artwork, and more. The educational content includes life planning skills (careers), social studies (geography, government, history, etc.), writing, and many other academic areas. Free registration is required for each student and teacher. All content is monitored by volunteer moderators. What a fabulous resource to use in geography or language arts class. This website doesn't just teach students about countries throughout the world, but also allows students to interact with students of various cultures as they write and respond to each other in this safe environment.

tag(s): careers (132), cultures (105)

In the Classroom

Students need not have their own email to use this site. Kidlink explains that they are permitted to use the teacher's email address (which allows you to monitor their activities, as well). You might want to use your "extra" email account. Set up accounts for your students to communicate in your world language class or as part of your study of other continents. With younger students, you may want to communicate as a whole-class activity, composing on a projector or interactive whiteboard.

If your school policies limit your ability to use such a site, see the FAQ information and ready-to-go presentation explaining Kidlink. Share it with your principal and parents. ALWAYS get written parent permission when sharing student work/ideas online.

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Statistics - Cast Your Vote! - Annenberg Media

Grades
8 to 12
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This timely website follows a year in a fictitious election campaign. The website is set-up like a news report (via radio) that takes an inside look at the mathematics behind ...more
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This timely website follows a year in a fictitious election campaign. The website is set-up like a news report (via radio) that takes an inside look at the mathematics behind the polls, and the political news and updates that you hear everyday. The introduction asks students to complete a short poll (which is not affiliated with any political party; it is all fictitious). Once the poll is completed, you are taken to the main website. The specific topics include - How Random is Random, +/-5%, Being Confident, What Can Go Wrong, In Daily Life, and Related Resources.

tag(s): critical thinking (108), elections (75), politics (99), statistics (122)

In the Classroom

What a fabulous way to integrate math, government, and current events! Use this activity as an anticipatory set to an election unit or a statistics lesson. Once the lesson is completed, extend the activities by looking at current polls on elections in your area (or national elections). Have students work in small groups to analyze and find possible "loopholes" in the meaning and "spin" of poll data.
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Exploring Africa - Michigan State University

Grades
6 to 12
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Wow, this website is amazing! Exploring Africa brings Africa into your classroom through numerous interdisciplinary lessons. There are 20 modules (within 4 general units of study)....more
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Wow, this website is amazing! Exploring Africa brings Africa into your classroom through numerous interdisciplinary lessons. There are 20 modules (within 4 general units of study). The general units include "Why Study Africa", "Studying Africa Through the Social Studies", "Studying Africa Through the Humanities", and "Regional Perspectives". Each module contains a teacher version that includes objectives, focus questions, activities, background information, and more. These teaching and learning activities all follow the "5 E's" format: Engage, Explore, Explain, Expand, and Evaluate. The website also provides links for specific country information and current events.

tag(s): africa (180), diversity (36)

In the Classroom

This website is literally a textbook online. The information is ready to go and easy to use. It may not be possible to cover all of the information included in this extensive website. Pick and choose the modules that will be useful in your own classroom. Modules can easily be used independently and include detailed teacher notes, evaluations, printable pages, and more. Many of the a ctivities will work well using technology, though the plans do not specify this. For example: Share some of the maps on your interactive whiteboard or have students draw some of their "preconceived notions" about Africa on the whiteboard as part of the introductory image activities.

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Powerpoint Palooza - Susan M. Pojer

Grades
9 to 12
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Sometimes you oversleep. Sometimes you just need to add a little extra "punch" to a tried-and-true lesson. Maybe you just got an interactive whiteboard and haven't had time ...more
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Sometimes you oversleep. Sometimes you just need to add a little extra "punch" to a tried-and-true lesson. Maybe you just got an interactive whiteboard and haven't had time to create a lot of visual resources to use with it. Maybe you just want a fresh perspective. This site contains nearly 200 PowerPoint slide shows focused on history lessons, particularly at the upper levels or Advanced Placement level.

In the Classroom

Download a PowerPoint presentation relevant to an upcoming set of lessons and use it as a starting point for your own version, or use the presentation as-is. The teacher who has created most of these, Susan M. Pojer, grants full permission to use these resources as long as she is credited as the original author. Some of the lessons have sound files, and they all have the usual PowerPoint bells and whistles. Of course, we don't want to commit "assault with a deadly bullet point" day after day, but these presentations may be just what you need in a pinch, or may give you a new way of looking at a stale lesson plan. Ready, set, download!

An alternative would be to give the PowerPoint file to your students (in small groups) and ask them to transform it into an interactive learning tool for their peers: add questions, feedback, more images, etc. so the show becomes a student-created tutorial on the topic of your lesson or unit. Of course, students will be graded on the accuracy of their information as well as their creativity. Think of it as inverse teaching. Prepare a rubric before you start or use our http://www.teachersfirst.com Rubrics to the Rescue to find one that shares your expectations with the class.

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in Our Own Backyard: The Hidden Problem of Child Farmworkers - AFT

Grades
8 to 12
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This site presents facts, video, activities, and thoughtful questions about the treatment of migrant children today in the U.S. Help students learn first hand about social problems,...more
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This site presents facts, video, activities, and thoughtful questions about the treatment of migrant children today in the U.S. Help students learn first hand about social problems, the possibility of social change, the role of legislation, critical thinking, and the power of original documents.

tag(s): immigration (58), migration (59)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a launch point for debates, class discussion, or student projects on the history of labor, the contributions of minorities in American life, and the hot current events discussions of border control. Consider this topic for possible social action projects or political letter-writing and more. Examples of projects other classrooms have created are available on the website as well as teacher testimonials on teaching about child labor.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Opensecrets.org - Open Secrets

Grades
9 to 12
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A compilation of data about fund-raising and the financing of political candidates in the United States, this site contains a massive amount of information. You can drill down to the...more
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A compilation of data about fund-raising and the financing of political candidates in the United States, this site contains a massive amount of information. You can drill down to the zip code level and find out who in your local area is donating how much to which political candidates and parties. You can search by politician or by candidates and see where their financial support comes from. You can track particular issues or take a historical look at campaign and political finance.

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

In the Classroom

Put this site on your TeachersFirst favorites list or teacher web page so students can use it for research on political candidates and issues. Civics teachers will find it useful in demonstrating the importance of lobbying and campaign finance in the political arena. Economics teachers can use these data to illustrate the connection between wealth and political power. Teachers doing lessons focused on the upcoming elections can track current Presidential candidates and their major contributors.
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Gapminder - Gapminder

Grades
7 to 12
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Gapminder is an interactive site designed to present world demographic information in a highly visual way. Using either a world map, or a chart with "bubbles" sized according to ...more
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Gapminder is an interactive site designed to present world demographic information in a highly visual way. Using either a world map, or a chart with "bubbles" sized according to each country's population, users can track 30 years of change in a wide variety of economic and social indicators (for example, population size, percentage of GNP dedicated to military spending, proportion of girls in school, infant mortality). Math teachers can use the site to demonstrate data analysis skills with meaningful data. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): data (148), demographics (19)

In the Classroom

The site would be best used on an interactive whiteboard, although computer-savvy students could access it individually. The world data presented might supplement lessons in economics, civics, world cultures, current events or modern history. Teachers should plan to spend a chunk of time previewing the site before using, however, as the interface is not entirely intuitive. There is a tutorial, but it will take some experimentation to discover the various ways to manipulate the data and present it graphically. There is also this page of ideas specifically for teachers. You can compare individual countries, or zoom into geographic regions. "Mature" teachers who learned bar graphs and pie charts may find the choices a little overwhelming, but with a little noodling around, will be able to graphically illustrate concepts in ways never before possible.br br Challenge your students to retrieve and use some of the data in support of an essay thesis, oral presentation, or debate.
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National Atlas - United States Department of the Interior

Grades
2 to 12
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This all-encompassing atlas site provides a broad variety of information and activities. The subject areas include agriculture, biology, boundaries, climate, environment, geology, government,...more
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This all-encompassing atlas site provides a broad variety of information and activities. The subject areas include agriculture, biology, boundaries, climate, environment, geology, government, history, mapping, transportation, people, and water. All of the subjects incorporate the United States (for example, the agriculture pages discuss the agriculture of the USA). The map features are phenomenal and include both printable maps and "dynamic maps" which are interactive and awesome! Some of interactive maps include topics such as relief and elevation, West Nile virus, volcanoes and more. This site is a perfect addition to any science class that is studying volcanoes, climate, biology and more. It is also useful in a geography class studying the various uses and types of maps. Some of the activities at this site require Flash, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): agriculture (55), climate (92), environment (317), geology (81), maps (287)

In the Classroom

Have your students work in cooperative learning groups to investigate the "dynamic maps". Assign each group a topic to explore (there are 7). Have the students research the information using the maps and then report their findings to the class, perhaps displaying examples on a projector or interactive whiteboard. In teaching any of the related subjects, using a projector to share a map will make the content more "real," such as displaying the butterfly layer in the map maker so students can see how the butterfly population their home state compares with other locations.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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World News - WN Network

Grades
4 to 12
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This is a wonderful compilation site of news from all over the world. Users can read the home page or search news of a specific geographic region. An ...more
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This is a wonderful compilation site of news from all over the world. Users can read the home page or search news of a specific geographic region. An excellent plus here is the ability to choose to read the news in a variety of languages. World Photos today, multimedia, global weather, and sports are just a few of the many attractive sections that add to this site's appeal.

tag(s): news (261)

In the Classroom

Share this site with your school's foreign language teachers. Have students do comparisons between English and foreign language versions of the news. If you teach writing, you can find controversial topics as writing prompts for persuasive writing among the articles, as well, and have students find facts to support their positions. Make this site available from your teacher web page for current events assignments. Reading teachers will want to use the articles on an interactive whiteboard to teach main idea and summarizing: highlight key words to use in a main idea or summary sentence you write together below the article.

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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 (359)

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 (41), elections (75), politics (99), speech (92), 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 (261), 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

Grades
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

Grades
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 (317), population (60)

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 (66)

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 (75), presidents (131)

In the Classroom

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

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

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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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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 (317)

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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