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Tour the U.S. Capitol - US Government

Grades
6 to 12
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This site from the Architect of the U.S. Capitol offers historical information as well as a collection of photos showing key features. There is also an "interactive tour," but the ...more
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This site from the Architect of the U.S. Capitol offers historical information as well as a collection of photos showing key features. There is also an "interactive tour," but the site navigation is complex enough that you should probably do some serious previewing before turning students loose on this one.

tag(s): architecture (83)

In the Classroom

If teaching about initial plans for the construction of DC and how those developed, use the images from this site to compliment a class discussion or lecture. Within the teacher and students page, there are numerous images that detail L'enfant's original ideas for DC. Teachers can incorporate these in graphic organizers or even a slide-show over the interactive whiteboard.

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The Capitol - An Interactive Tour - University of Virginia

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6 to 12
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Well, sort of. This site from the University of Virginia offers lots of images of artwork and statues in the U.S. Capitol, as well as additional references, but interactive 3D ...more
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Well, sort of. This site from the University of Virginia offers lots of images of artwork and statues in the U.S. Capitol, as well as additional references, but interactive 3D it isn't. Still, it's an interesting collection of images for those interested in a glimpse of what's inside.

tag(s): architecture (83)

In the Classroom

Use any of the separate sections on this website as learning center or stations during lesson(s) on the architecture and symbolism of our capitol's historic buildings. Have students explore the site individually or cooperative learning groups as an introductory activity. Because there is a lot of material on the site, create follow-alongs to guide students and highlight what is most important on the site. For help making easy graphic organizers, try: Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here).

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Congressional Quarterly Online

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9 to 12
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The on-line edition of CQ offers up-to-the-minute "inside thebeltway" reporting on Congressional activities, pending legislation, and related news. ...more
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The on-line edition of CQ offers up-to-the-minute "inside thebeltway" reporting on Congressional activities, pending legislation, and related news.

tag(s): congress (33), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Great resource for the political junkies in your class!

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Congressional Directory

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1 to 12
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x ...more
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tag(s): biographies (86), congress (33)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a starting point for students working on biographies or research projects about specific congressmen. Although the biographies are short, they provide other resources that could easily be followed up with!

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The American Presidents

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1 to 12
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x ...more
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tag(s): biographies (86), presidents (130)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a point of reference for information about our Presidents. Students could use this site as a spring board for research projects, or historical heads. For historical heads, have students draw inside of a blank outline of a human face graphic representations of the president chosen for their project. Students should be able to describe and explain all representations, but it's a great way for them to organize their ideas and provide more memorable symbols for facts that they need to know.

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Democracy in America - C-SPAN

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9 to 12
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This site is devoted to the work of Alexis DeToqueville, whose extensive accounts of American life and character in the 1840's remains a staple for the study of American history. ...more
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This site is devoted to the work of Alexis DeToqueville, whose extensive accounts of American life and character in the 1840's remains a staple for the study of American history. This site offers text, images, background, and additional references. An accompanying set of lesson modules, developed by C-Span, can be found in the TeachersFirst American History lessons.

tag(s): primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Use the journal entries portion of this site to help students not only learn the content, but to learn to retrieve information from primary sources. Divide students into groups, and assign them each one of the states Tocqueville wrote about. Have students analyze and interpret what was written, with the intentions of presenting their findings to the class. To connect it to the content being studied at the time, have a discussion with students about whether Congress was also concerned or if we see some of the issues he talked about still prevalent today.

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A Biography of America - CPB/Annenberg

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6 to 12
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This American History survey site from the Annenberg Project was created as a companion to the video series of the same name. The chief resource avialable is a collection of ...more
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This American History survey site from the Annenberg Project was created as a companion to the video series of the same name. The chief resource avialable is a collection of transcripts of the programs. There are also timelines, discussion questions, and far fewer images than one would imagine in such a project. This could be a resource for discussion ideas on American history topics or an introductory survey for a student searching for an independent study project.

tag(s): american revolution (86)

In the Classroom

The possibilities for this site are virtually limitless. Open the site on the interactive whiteboard or projector and select one of the many topics that is applicable to your unit. Teachers can play the video for students to review material, use the map to provide something for visual learners can connect to, or use the time-line to guide student learning. This is really an amazing tool for teachers trying to utilize technology in the classroom!

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The Papers of George Washington - University of Virginia

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8 to 12
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This site includes letters written both to and from George Washington. Important papers and letters are singled out, as well as an entire section of selected Revolutionary War documents....more
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This site includes letters written both to and from George Washington. Important papers and letters are singled out, as well as an entire section of selected Revolutionary War documents. This site would be of value to students serious about completing in depth research on the man or his major historical events in his life.

tag(s): presidents (130), primary sources (86), washington (36)

In the Classroom

In a discussion of the Revolutionary War or the Founding Fathers, use the pictures and images to supplement your lecture. Very rarely do students get to see time-period appropriate maps, and those provided on the site can be used to show and diagram major battles. The site also provides some excellent primary sources that complement such a unit. An excellent one to look at is his famed "Farewell Address," which can be used for both a revolutionary unit and any on American Diplomacy. Have students read the address as a class, following it with a discussion on how this speech impacted American foreign relations for the next 200 years. A great site for any resources on Washington!

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Supreme Court Decisions

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9 to 12
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Searchable database of decisions from 1937-1975. ...more
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Searchable database of decisions from 1937-1975.

tag(s): supreme court (22)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a point of reference for finding material for debates in a US history classroom. Teachers can search for materials to base a debate on, or have students use this site to find supportive evidence for their side of the debate.

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U. S. Historical Documents

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7 to 12
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A more extensive collection, helpfully organized. From the University of Oklahoma. ...more
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A more extensive collection, helpfully organized. From the University of Oklahoma.

tag(s): primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Primary sources could be used to teach both the content and historical thinking skills in your classroom. Divide students into 5-6 groups, with each group assigned a different primary source to read and evaluate. (Sources should come from various perspectives to make the game more interesting) Have the groups present quick summaries of their source to the class, making sure to mention who the author is and whether or not there could be bias. After all have presented, have each team pick a representative to argue in front of the class as to why their source is the most reliable and valid. After all have made their argument, have the class vote off the least reliable "survivor style" until you are left with just one!

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Historic Documents of the United States of America - Brigham Young University

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5 to 12
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A simple, complete documents collection. ...more
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A simple, complete documents collection.

tag(s): primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a point of reference for finding important primary sources and government documents, useful for a US government or history classroom. Be sure to save this one as a favorite.

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Colonial Charters - Yale University

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6 to 12
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This collection from the Avalon Project at Yale University offers a collection of primary documents dealing with all the American colonies except Virginia and Vermont. The page includes...more
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This collection from the Avalon Project at Yale University offers a collection of primary documents dealing with all the American colonies except Virginia and Vermont. The page includes a search engine as well as links to specific documents. Good resource for exploring the various motives in colonizing the new world.

tag(s): colonial america (107)

In the Classroom

Primary sources could be used to teach both the content and historical thinking skills in your classroom. Divide students into 5-6 groups, with each group assigned a different primary source to read and evaluate. (Sources should come from various perspectives to make the game more interesting) Have the groups present quick summaries of their source to the class, making sure to mention who the author is and whether or not there could be bias. After all have presented, have each team pick a representative to argue in front of the class as to why their source is the most reliable and valid. After all have made their argument, have the class vote off the least reliable "survivor style" until you are left with just one!

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The Avalon Project - Yale University

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6 to 12
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Developed by the Law School at Yale University, the Avalon Project is a compilation of primary source documents of American History from the 15th century onward. The resources are available...more
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Developed by the Law School at Yale University, the Avalon Project is a compilation of primary source documents of American History from the 15th century onward. The resources are available by time period, and there is also a search feature. Users searching for a more linear presentation may want to use the Project's American History Timeline. The collection is a great research for research projects or any study of American history.

tag(s): primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Save this site as a favorite and reference it for primary sources for history units. The timespan covered spans virtually all that would be covered in any US history course, and also offers many documents that would also apply to World or European history courses. Teachers can also refer students to this site for research projects or papers.

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Statistical Abstract of the United States - US Government

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6 to 12
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The government's concise presentation of statistical information on hundreds of aspects of life in the United States. Although this site only goes up to 2000 (at the time of this ...more
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The government's concise presentation of statistical information on hundreds of aspects of life in the United States. Although this site only goes up to 2000 (at the time of this review), it could be very useful in comparing historical data. Make sure to reference back for new stats after the 2010 census is done!

tag(s): demographics (19), population (60), statistics (122)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a point of reference for any and all statistical information about the US population. Teachers can use this to find voter and state information, which would be useful in a discussion about apportion of state delegates in the House of Representatives.

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Social Studies Web Sites and Resources

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1 to 12
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Here's a treasure-trove of lessons, materials, ideas, units and resources. Lots and lots of great material here from sources as various as the academy Curriculum Exchange, Houghton...more
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Here's a treasure-trove of lessons, materials, ideas, units and resources. Lots and lots of great material here from sources as various as the academy Curriculum Exchange, Houghton Mifflin, Addison Wesley, AskERIC, Encarta and the Peace Corps. Print 'em out and turn 'em loose on the kids! This is definitely worth a browse!

tag(s): black history (59), oral history (12)

In the Classroom

Save this site as a favorite it and browse it whenever in need of new lesson plans and materials within a social studies classroom. This is a great resource for new teachers, or for someone just looking for fresh ideas on how to cover a topic.

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Presidential Debates Information

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4 to 12
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This site provides video and written coverage of the 1960 Presidential Debates. ...more
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This site provides video and written coverage of the 1960 Presidential Debates.

tag(s): debate (41), presidents (130)

In the Classroom

If teaching about the historic 1960 television debates, use the videos and transcripts to provide students with something more tangible than the summary in their textbook. Click on the debate history section of the site, selecting the year 1960. There are multiple transcripts and videos that can easily be printed or viewed on the interactive whiteboard. To show the impact of technology, have students listen to the debate before watching - and also select a winner. After, have students repeat the activity; this time through watching the video. Have a class discussion on how seeing the candidates affected their opinions, and whether a similar effect occurred in 1960. Great for a US government classroom!

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Judge Nixes Napster - CNN

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6 to 12
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The Napster court case provides a great entree to the issue of copyright and why students should understand it. This CNN special report highlights some of the copyright issues in ...more
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The Napster court case provides a great entree to the issue of copyright and why students should understand it. This CNN special report highlights some of the copyright issues in the case.

tag(s): air (163), copyright (47)

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Library of Congress: for Teachers - U.S. Library of Congress

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4 to 12
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This site is the homepage for teachers using the Library of Congress, the nation's largest library. Find primary source sets on various topics, professional development opportunities,...more
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This site is the homepage for teachers using the Library of Congress, the nation's largest library. Find primary source sets on various topics, professional development opportunities, thematic collections, and extensive materials and lesson plans for TPS (Teaching with Primary Sources) The teacher resources highlight nearly 10 million primary source resources available on line through this site.

tag(s): primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Use the learning page as a launch pad for planning your own lessons in conjunction with the vast array of resources available from the Library of Congress. Many of the documents and images are in the public domain and can therefore be used as visuals in other multimedia projects created by teachers and students. Be sure to read the permissions. Share an image on your projector or interactive whiteboard or a voice recording to start a lesson. Assign students to explore and explain collections you select. Be sure to check out the self-directed professional development modules, as well.
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American Fact Finder - The U.S. Census Department

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5 to 12
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The U.S. Census Department offers this site which provides a wide variety of statistical and factual information on American population, economics, education, and other statistics on...more
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The U.S. Census Department offers this site which provides a wide variety of statistical and factual information on American population, economics, education, and other statistics on this new site redesigned since the 2010 census. There are several ways to search for different sets of data. There are even interactive maps of census data. (See Geographies and click on the Maps tab.) It's a great research tool, especially if you know what you're looking for. Parts of this site are updated through the present, while others date back to 2000.

tag(s): census (19), demographics (19), population (60)

In the Classroom

Explore the site together as a class on projector or interactive whiteboard before asking student groups to create a set of compare/contrast questions for their peers to solve on this site. Also be sure to include this site on your teacher web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further research. While students are learning about various states throughout the United States, have cooperative learning groups use this tool to compare and learn more about states and form hypotheses about possible reasons for the data they discover.

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Census Quick Facts - US Government

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3 to 12
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This easy to use site contains population and demographic information for any state or county in the nation. The data available includes population, ethnic composition, and other related...more
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This easy to use site contains population and demographic information for any state or county in the nation. The data available includes population, ethnic composition, and other related information. There is also a link for younger students with basic information on a more elementary level. At the time of this review, the data provided was from 2008.

tag(s): census (19), population (60)

In the Classroom

Use this site as the starting point for individual or group projects. Have pairs of students create multimedia presentations about specific states or counties. Have students use a mapping tool such as Mapskip (reviewed here) to create a map of the locations they have researched (with audio stories and pictures included)!

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