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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 (125)

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

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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 (33), constitution (79)

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.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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J8 Teacher Resources - J8 Summit

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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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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CIA for Kids - CIA

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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

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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 (75), gifted (96)

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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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: Immigration Reform - PBS

Grades
6 to 12
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A site affiliated with the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, this lesson plan provides a framework for discussing immigration from multiple points of view. There are links to a ...more
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A site affiliated with the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, this lesson plan provides a framework for discussing immigration from multiple points of view. There are links to a partial transcript of a NewsHour segment that features the voices of immigrants from different countries. There is a good set of essential questions for discussion related to the issue of immigration. The focus of the lesson is that life experiences shape attitudes toward immigration, and that there are many points of view. Students are encouraged to role play a point of view different from their own. Finally, there is a quick quiz (and Key) that could be used to establish prior knowledge about immigration. On a topic that can be highly emotional, this lesson simply lays out the viewpoints, rather than taking sides.

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

In the Classroom

The essential questions (labeled "My Point of View, parts 2-3") are a nice guide for helping students see this issue from multiple backgrounds.
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Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Dave Leip

Grades
6 to 12
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This site has many interactive ways to learn about the history of U.S. elections: interactive maps, discussion boards, predictions, polling data, and much more. Some of the tools may...more
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This site has many interactive ways to learn about the history of U.S. elections: interactive maps, discussion boards, predictions, polling data, and much more. Some of the tools may invite less mature students to enter into discussion boards inappropriately. Even so, it is an interesting and useful resource for students studying the history of U.S. elections or political parties.

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

In the Classroom

Use some of the interactive maps on a projector or interactive whiteboard or enter into the discussion boards as a class with ONE shared posting and watch the responses as a group.
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Election Map 2006 - NPR

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6 to 12
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Although this resource was created for the 2006 midterm election, it is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. Compare...more
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Although this resource was created for the 2006 midterm election, it is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. Compare predictions between different new media or simply choose one to see the latest data on the 2006 midterm elections, including house and senate races and gubernatorial elections. Read related articles and download podcasts of analysis. In higher level classes, compare the spin on NPR with that on other new sources.

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

In the Classroom

Share the interactive maps on a projector or interactive whiteboard, and check back often to watch changing predictions. Collect these and other news articles with differing slants on your bulletin boards as the elections approach.

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IOU--An Introduction to the National Debt - PBS The Democracy Project

Grades
6 to 12
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This site presents a lesson plan introducing students to the concept of the National Debt. Students are challenged to compare the National Debt with a personal or family debt ...more
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This site presents a lesson plan introducing students to the concept of the National Debt. Students are challenged to compare the National Debt with a personal or family debt and to apply principles of budgeting to a discussion of governmental budgeting. There is a link to the (constantly) updated National Debt Clock, a nifty game asking students to estimate what portion of the US budget goes to what categories of expenditures, and a similar, but more elegant simulation game that challenges students to make decisions about budget allocations from UC-Berkley. The two budget exercises would be extremely useful in a general discussion of the US government and its responsibilities. Students too often say "We should spend more money on XXX" without understanding the complexities of budgeting.

In the Classroom

You may want to integrate using a spreadsheet to create a budget as part of this study, as well, especially if you are working with high school students who will soon be on their own.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Foreign War and Domestic Freedom: A Delicate Balance - PBS

Grades
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.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: Checks and Balances in Supreme Court Nominations - PBS

Grades
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

Grades
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

Grades
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

Grades
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

Grades
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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