Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘lesson plans’

Good old Ben, Constitution Day 2016, and 17 teaching resources

It’s that time of year again. Constitution Day 2016. And I just haven’t gotten around to updating my C-Day list of resources. But I still feel pretty comfortable with my current list. So I hope you don’t mind but I’m recycling an old post that highlights some of my favorites:


You know the story. A group of guys from different parts of the country with different ideas of how to govern got together and came up with a pretty amazing document. And we all have our favorite Founding Fathers. My fav?

Ben Franklin.

He’s kind of like the sleeper pick in your fantasy football league – everyone knows he’s out there but they ignore him because all the focus is on Jefferson or Madison or one of the other first rounders. But you draft him anyway cause you know he’s got the skills.

Ben was smart, irreverent, great with people, well-read, the ladies loved him, he had that whole kite / electricity / scientist thing working, and was by far the best part of 1776 and John Adams. What’s not to love?

And so it’s fun to go back and read some of what Ben had to say about the document he was preparing to sign: Read more

Statistics as evidence: Using US Census data to support historical thinking

It’s becoming easier and easier to find primary source evidence online. And while many of you are stopping in at places like Google Public Data and GapMinder, it can still be difficult to find digital sources that specifically target the use of data and statistics. So most social studies teachers probably don’t integrate as many of those types of evidence as they should.

So it was great hearing today about the newly updated Statistics in Schools program for K-12 teachers and students from the US Census Bureau. Using current and historical data, the Census Bureau provides teachers the tools to help students understand statistical concepts and improve their data analysis skills. The program offers free online activities and other resources in geographyhistory, and sociology.

Over the past two years, Read more

Tip of the Week: More Election Resources Than You’ll Ever Need But Will Probably Look at Anyway

For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.

And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.

Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service!

Way back in August of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service Organic Act, establishing the creation of the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife” found inside the United States and make them available for public enjoyment.

According to National Geographic and the NPS, there are more than 84 million acres across the U.S., at sites as diverse as national monuments, Civil War battlefields, and historic sites. There’s a big range in size among NPS sites, too: The biggest is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, at 13.2 million acres, while the smallest is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre. These sites attract more than 300 million visitors every year.

Shelton Johnson, a park ranger at Yosemite National Park and published author, shared his thoughts on this important milestone.

“No longer were rivers a force to be dammed, virgin forests a source for board-feet, or mountainsides blasted for gemstones or coal. The idea of parks has the power to transcend culture, a currency whose value speaks of something profoundly human.”

To celebrate, Read more

EDSITEment continues to impress: New election resources & interactives

EDSITEment has always been one of my go-to lesson plan, teaching resources, website referral tools. A partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for the Humanities, EDSITEment offers a treasure trove for teachers searching for high-quality material in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies.

Everything at EDSITEment is reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom and covers a wide range of humanities subjects, from American history to literature, world history and culture, language, art, and archaeology, and have been judged by humanities specialists to be of high intellectual quality.

If you’re looking for ways to integrate content with language arts and the humanities, EDSITEment should one of the first places you stop at. Lesson plans are searchable by grade level and specific content, are aligned to specific historical thinking skills, and focus on using evidence to build historical thinking skills. You can also find a variety of interactive student resources sortable by grade and content.

There’s a weekly blog written by EDSITEment guru Joe Phelan with helpful tips and teaching suggestions. You can sign up to get their monthly newsletter with updates and special announcements.

And it just got better. Read more

Tip of the Week: DocsTeach Redesign Creates Super Tool

Our job as social studies teachers is not to give our students the answers. Our job is to create great questions and then train kids to be able to address those questions. To model and facilitate the practice of reading, writing, and thinking like historians.

Rather than passively receiving information from us or our textbooks, students should be actively engaged in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events and ideas of the past through document analysis.

And one of the tools that every history / social studies teacher should be using to help with all of this is the incredible National Archives site DocsTeach. I first wrote about DocsTeach when it debuted six years ago in 2010. The idea of the site at the time?

the project is designed to provide useful document-based lesson plans and activities created by both NARA staff members and classroom teachers.

And it was awesome. Tons of primary sources from the National Archives. Activities that focused on and supported historical thinking skills. The ability to create your own activities, save them, and share them digitally with your students. For 2010, it truly was cutting edge.

But it debuted before mobile devices and iPads. Before national standards such as the NCSS C3 Framework and Common Core Lit standards. Before Wineburg’s Reading Like a Historian and SHEG. Before online primary evidence archives were commonplace. So even though it was an incredible idea put into practice, it was a bit clunky and not super user friendly in 2016.

But not anymore. DocsTeach just got a massive upgrade. And now there is no excuse not to use it. Because not only can you still access thousands of primary sources, borrow from an ever-expanding collection of document-based activities, and create your own online activities, there are some very sweet changes and additions to the site.
Read more