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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: Immigration Reform - PBS

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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 (59), migration (58)

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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Awesome Stories - Awesome Stories Internet Productions

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3 to 8
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A great source of primary documents covering many topics of interest to grade school children including the real stories some of the people killed on Sept. 11. Although this ...more
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A great source of primary documents covering many topics of interest to grade school children including the real stories some of the people killed on Sept. 11. Although this is usually a pay site ($9.95/yr), free membership is available for educators, schools, and libraries. Each feature article is divided into "Story Chapter Links" and highlighted vocabulary clicks to photographs, maps, artifacts, documents, audio-visual clips, and articles with more information about the word. Topics offered include history, culture, literature, disasters, and media. You can find passages on topics related to almost any student's interests and use the resources to teacher reading skills. In December, 2006, Awesome Stories announced free accounts for individuals, as well, but for a "limited time." If you would like your students to be abe to use it at home, consider setting up accounts for students, as well, while they are free.

tag(s): dinosaurs (54), disasters (39), literature (271), movies (70), space (221)

In the Classroom

This is a great jumping off point for beginning researchers. You will find a wonderful compilation of photographs and other realia about the topics. Teach comprehension skills by using the first four chapters and asking students to predict or write aht they think would come next. Bring up the stories on an interactive whiteboard to highlight important terms and access the links that help students build connections to content. Maybe let students select the next topic to help engage reluctant readers.

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Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Dave Leip

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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 (74), politics (97)

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 (74), politics (97)

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

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

tag(s): supreme court (23)

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

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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.
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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 (207), environment (320), 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 (94), climate change (69), earth (230), earth day (110), pollution (64), 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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Lessons from - PBS/KCET

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

tag(s): images (272), propaganda (11)

In the Classroom

These lessons would be great interdisciplinary "idea banks" for classes in art, world cultures, or government.
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Our Stories: The Long, Long Battle for ANWR - Natural Resources Defense Council

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

tag(s): arctic (45)

In the Classroom

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

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

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

In the Classroom

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

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Grading on a Curve - New York Times

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6 to 12
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Just how effective are the six key issues of President Bush's domestic agenda? This lesson gives students a chance to assume the role of political analyst as they critically examine...more
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Just how effective are the six key issues of President Bush's domestic agenda? This lesson gives students a chance to assume the role of political analyst as they critically examine the Bush administration. The goal is to create a report card addressing the efficacy of selected domestic topics. Includes suggestions for interdisciplinary activities and projects. Aligned to standards.

tag(s): foreign policy (16), presidents (123)

In the Classroom

Though a bit outdated for a current events class, this would be a great lesson in a US government class looking at the Presidency of George H.W. Bush. Save this lesson as a favorite on your desktop to allow for easy retrieval later on - though be sure to look closely at the lesson and make sure that students have learned enough of the contextual information to be able to make sense of the article. For differentiation, peruse the article before-hand, creating a list of words that students may have trouble with or may not be familiar with. Create a follow-along for the article, defining those words selected to help students as they read. This will allow lower achieving readers to be able to process the information more efficiently and with more comprehension.

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Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary - Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

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

tag(s): colonial america (105), franklin (11)

In the Classroom

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

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9/11 - Voices of Reflection - NPR

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

tag(s): sept11 (17)

In the Classroom

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

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John Roberts Nominated as Chief Justice - NPR

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

tag(s): senate (9), supreme court (23)

In the Classroom

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

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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 (11), 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 (59), american revolution (85), famous people (23), japan (60), japanese (45), jazz (15), lincoln (85), politics (97)

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.
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Kids and Teens Action without Borders - Action Without Borders

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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 (119)

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

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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 (85), declaration of independence (13), evolution (99)

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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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 (31), 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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