TeachersFirst's National History Day Resources

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Whether your students actually compete in National History Day or not, the annual themes and the challenge of hands-on, primary research wrapped into the History Day project format is an engaging way for students to participate in their own learning and produce rigorous, meaningful projects they will never forget. This collection of TeachersFirst resources pulls from our offerings on primary sources -- a requirement in the national history day competition.  Check the official National History Day site at the start of each school year for the specific theme of the year. Then search TeachersFirst for more resources related to that year's theme. Explore and share these offerings as you plan a "history day" type event for your school or to assist students participating in National History Day.

View all of our resources tagged History Day.

 

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Bringing History Home - University of Iowa and Washington Community School District

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K to 5
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Bringing History Home provides history curriculum for kindergarten through 5th grade. The curriculum centers on concepts that include five tools for learning - reading historical accounts...more
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Bringing History Home provides history curriculum for kindergarten through 5th grade. The curriculum centers on concepts that include five tools for learning - reading historical accounts for context, constructing timelines, analyzing original sources, mapping events, and synthesizing sources to construct historical events. Each grade level includes two complete units with all teaching materials and aligned to Social Studies Standards.

tag(s): civil rights (121), communities (38), environment (323), great depression (27), immigrants (22), immigration (59), native americans (78), segregation (16), underground railroad (12), world war 2 (142)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lessons and materials on this site to use in your social studies classroom. Have students use a mapping tool such as Zeemaps, reviewed here, to create a map featuring historic events. Have students create timelines (with music, photos, videos, and more) using Timeglider, reviewed here, to visualize events over a period of time.
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Primary Source Sets - Library of Congress

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4 to 12
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This collection of primary sources from the Library of Congress is organized around key topics and themes in American History. View Primary Source Set titles in alphabetical order from...more
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This collection of primary sources from the Library of Congress is organized around key topics and themes in American History. View Primary Source Set titles in alphabetical order from Abraham Lincoln through Women's Suffrage. Choose any topic to view Teacher's Guides and analysis tools including graphic organizers for students. Sort information to find materials meeting Common Core Standards, State Standards, or national organization standards.

tag(s): 20th century (51), authors (123), black history (59), civil war (143), constitution (86), hispanic (17), jefferson (19), lincoln (85), new deal (6), primary sources (92), segregation (16), thanksgiving (32), veterans (19), washington (32), westward expansion (29), womens suffrage (25), wright brothers (19)

In the Classroom

When introducing a new unit, show students photos from the era and have them describe what they see and what period they think it is. Find plenty of questions and activities (including a blank analysis organizer for students) in the Teacher's Guides. Also look at Library of Congress: for Teachers, reviewed here. Encourage your students to use this tool for projects. Challenge students to find a photo (legally permitted for reproduction), and then narrate the photo as if it is a news report. Have students create a multimedia presentation using Voicethread, reviewed here. This tool allows users to narrate a picture. Include this site on your class webpage for students and parents to access as a reference.
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Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture - University of Virginia

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8 to 12
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Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was a cultural phenomenon when it was published, and continues to be an important window into the mid-19th century anti-slavery movement prior...more
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Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was a cultural phenomenon when it was published, and continues to be an important window into the mid-19th century anti-slavery movement prior to the American Civil War. Here you will find important cultural context for a fuller discussion of the novel and its impact on American society and history. Browse the site for a variety of primary source material, or interpret the work's significance through one of several lenses: Anti-slavery texts, the influence of "minstrel shows," 19th century Christian revivalism, or Victorian sentimentality. There are several high school level lesson plans to give you ideas for using the enormous number of audio, visual, and text-based resources available to supplement either a literary examination of Uncle Tom's Cabin, or a cultural-historical one. Be advised that much of the primary material reflects the 19th century views on race that prevailed at the time. It should be carefully viewed and used within a discussion of its context.

tag(s): 1800s (49), abolition (7), african american (112), civil rights (121), civil war (143), racism (16), slavery (70)

In the Classroom

Whether you are approaching Uncle Tom's Cabin from a literary perspective or a historical perspective, the primary sources here are deep and offer a variety. Listen to minstrel songs, view advertisements for performances, or read poems and other literary responses to the work. Because much of the site contains material that is rooted in a 19th century perspective on race, you should screen images, texts, and lyrics, and ensure that students understand their context before using them in the classroom.
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Under His Hat: Discovering Lincoln's Story From Primary Sources - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

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4 to 12
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History buffs will delight in the information about Abraham Lincoln found at Under His Hat. Bring Lincoln to life by viewing personal artifacts such as his wedding certificate,...more
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History buffs will delight in the information about Abraham Lincoln found at Under His Hat. Bring Lincoln to life by viewing personal artifacts such as his wedding certificate, his writing utensils, and his famous top hat. There are eight categories showcasing digital versions of primary sources related to Abraham Lincoln. Click on a category of interest and click on an artifact to enlarge to a 3D version and read about it.

tag(s): civil war (143), lincoln (85), presidents (121)

In the Classroom

Click on "In the Classroom" to find activities for each artifact for elementary, middle school, and high school. Personalize Abe Lincoln for your students by sharing some of the artifacts on your interactive whiteboard. Have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Students can then create a word cloud of the important terms they learn using a tool such as Wordle (reviewed here), Tagxedo (reviewed here), or WordItOut (reviewed here). Use ideas from Engaging Students With Primary Sources reviewed here to help high school students analyze primary source documents they find on Under Lincoln's Hat.
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Founders Online - National Archives and University of Virginia

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6 to 12
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Founders Online is an archive from the National Archives of over 119,000 fully annotated primary source documents from six of the nation's founding fathers: George Washington, Benjamin...more
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Founders Online is an archive from the National Archives of over 119,000 fully annotated primary source documents from six of the nation's founding fathers: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. Enter any search term or browse by author, recipient, or time period. Each document includes information such as author, recipient, date, and links to other similar documents if available.

tag(s): american revolution (86), colonial america (105), colonization (15), constitution (86), declaration of independence (13), franklin (12), jefferson (19), primary sources (92), washington (32)

In the Classroom

Search and view information from this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Find documents from similar time periods and events to compare and contrast different points of view. Have students download to create an annotated image including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Have students create timelines (with music, photos, videos, and more) using Capzles, reviewed here. Have students use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about any of the founding fathers included on this site.
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Civil War Interactive Poster - TeachingHistory.org

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6 to 12
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The Civil War Interactive Poster uses historical images and primary source documents as an entry point for conversation about this period in American History. Click on any of the four...more
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The Civil War Interactive Poster uses historical images and primary source documents as an entry point for conversation about this period in American History. Click on any of the four quadrants to view items up close. Click on any asterisk within a quadrant for links to further image, related learning, and teaching resources. Each asterisk also contains a question to begin thoughtful conversations about the images.

tag(s): civil war (143), emancipation proclamation (12), gettysburg (27), lincoln (85), slavery (70)

In the Classroom

This site is perfect for students to emcee on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Open up each quadrant to view images and documents provided. Have students discuss their reactions and thoughts on each of the representations before clicking on the asterisk to find specific information. Use teaching resources provided to add context to Civil War lessons. Challenge students to create a talking avatar using a photo or other image (legally permitted to be reproduced). The avatars can be used to explain information provided by one of the images. Use a site such as Blabberize (reviewed here). To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. Challenge your students to use a site such as TimeRime reviewed here to create an interactive timeline of information from this interactive poster along with other information learned during your Civil War unit.

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Picturing US History - American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning

Grades
4 to 12
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"Picturing U.S. History" helps you use visual evidence to learn about the past. The subtitle "Lessons in Looking" tells it all. The lessons are very detailed and flexible. Primary source...more
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"Picturing U.S. History" helps you use visual evidence to learn about the past. The subtitle "Lessons in Looking" tells it all. The lessons are very detailed and flexible. Primary source media includes: photographs, drawings, paintings, political cartoons, print media, statuary, furniture, and collectibles. Additional links provide explanations of historical and culture behind the images used at the site.

tag(s): art history (74), black history (59), painting (67), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

The "Lessons on Looking" can be used for a single class period or over several periods. Using a projector or interactive whiteboard, use the zoom tool to look at one aspect of the picture and have students interpret the image. Challenge your students to create a web exhibit collection about a historical topic using a tool such as Bag The Web (reviewed here). Students can share all of the important links, information, and even brief descriptions that they find on this site.
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History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research - The University of Richmond

Grades
8 to 12
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Contribute to ongoing historical research by submitting your own 500-word (or so) "episodes" to the History Engine. Each episode is designed to analyze and examine a particular event...more
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Contribute to ongoing historical research by submitting your own 500-word (or so) "episodes" to the History Engine. Each episode is designed to analyze and examine a particular event or small story, using primary sources and supporting research. The study of history is an ever-evolving process of continuing research and collaboration. While younger students may see history as something that has already been discovered, settled, written down and agreed upon, more advanced learners recognize that history is really much more interpretive and contextual.

The site is designed for use by college professors in designing research projects for individual students or student groups, but there is nothing here that would prevent advanced high school students from using the site or its materials as the basis for a research project. As the site is designed, instructors are to register prior to assigning research so that students can use an authorization code when submitting their research. If you decide to use the resources without submitting student work to the site, no registration is required. It should be noted that the terms of submission make the work the property of the University of Richmond; be sure that's consistent with your goals before you decide to submit.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): advanced placement (24), history day (24), local history (14)

In the Classroom

The site and the research it encourages is designed for college students, so secondary school use would need to be either in an upper level or Advanced Placement course, or perhaps for a student doing research for a National History Day project. As an alternative, the site can be used even in less advanced classes simply as a resource to explore the "episodes" already submitted by others.
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Our Documents - 100 Milestone Documents - National Archives

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6 to 12
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This site, a collaborative effort among the National Archives, National History Day and USA Freedom Corps, highlights the most important documents in US history. Each of these "milestone"...more
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This site, a collaborative effort among the National Archives, National History Day and USA Freedom Corps, highlights the most important documents in US history. Each of these "milestone" documents is detailed and photographed on a separate page; the photo can be enlarged for presentation on an interactive whiteboard. What is most helpful for teachers, however, is the link to tools for educators: a downloadable sourcebook, suggestions for using the documents to meet specific national social studies, economics, English, arts, civics, history, geography and technology standards, and lesson plans. This site was clearly designed with teachers in mind!

tag(s): history day (24), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

The use of primary sources in teaching has been greatly increased by our digital access to documents like these. Peruse the list of "milestone" documents, and commit to using the photographs on an interactive whiteboard (or projector) when the document comes up in a lesson or discussion. For teachers who are supporting student projects for National History Day, this site also has a link to specific tips, although it appears the site has not been kept up to date with current information on individual competitions. Challenge cooperative learning groups to investigate one of the documents and create a multimedia project of their choice. Looking for some inspiration? How about having groups create a podcast using PodOmatic (reviewed here). Or have students create online posters on paper or do it together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard (reviewed here) or PicLits (reviewed here). Have students narrate a photo of the document (using a FREE and LEGAL photo) using a site such as Thinglink, reviewed here.
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Radio Diaries - National Public Radio

Grades
6 to 12
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This site provides a large, indexed database of first person accounts and contemporaneous accounts of important eras and events in history. Primary sources can give the sense of "you...more
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This site provides a large, indexed database of first person accounts and contemporaneous accounts of important eras and events in history. Primary sources can give the sense of "you are there" that can make history come alive. They can also give valuable insight into the context and culture of a time and place remote from our own. Without the interpretation, summarization, and dilution that comes from textbook accounts, these narratives are invaluable to understand history in its purest sense. Search by time period or general topic and get speeches, diaries, and eyewitness accounts. Use the "Voices" tab to access audio recordings (requiring RealPlayer). Use the "History in Motion" tab to view film clips (requiring Flash). SnapShots provides photo montages from recent history. The home page is updated regularly to include "this month in history" features, a photo of the week, and a list of new entries to the database. A collection of the audio essays ("Teenage Diaries") draws on the experiences of a diverse group of teens who describe their lives, what's important, and what they're thinking. It's fun to browse and explore, but there is also a comprehensive index if you're searching for something in particular. One downside is the liberal use of moving advertising that can be distracting. This website requires Flash and RealPlayer.

tag(s): primary sources (92), radio (26)

In the Classroom

This is a fabulous resource for augmenting generic textbook accounts of history with primary source material. Whether we like it or not, our students are more visual than we were; they will love the film clips and photo montages from recent events. Use these on an interactive whiteboard or projector for full impact (although the film clips are fairly small to maintain resolution). If you teach social studies, this is a site you'll want to bookmark and visit often. English teachers will want to use the teenage diaries as inspiration for creative writing assignments, or even as a source of ideas for college admissions essays. Challenge students to create their own visual complements to the audio essays using a tool such as Canva, reviewed here.
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National History Day - National History Day

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6 to 12
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national...more
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national issues and events. This site is the home page for the competition, complete with all materials and information needed to participate. Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Use this site in combination with TeachersFirst's collection of History Day Resources.

tag(s): history day (24)

In the Classroom

Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Make this a permanent link on your class web page or share it with your gifted enrichment specialist for a curriculum connection to challenge any student.

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American Labor Studies Center - ALSC

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5 to 12
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This site offers a collection of lesson plans, videos, photographs, songs, timelines, and other documents about the history of the labor movement in the U.S. The documents are a compilation...more
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This site offers a collection of lesson plans, videos, photographs, songs, timelines, and other documents about the history of the labor movement in the U.S. The documents are a compilation from many prestigious sources including the Library of Congress, the National Archives, labor history from individual states, and labor museums. Click topics to explore such as Using Songs to Teach Labor History, Black Labor History, Women's Labor History, Religion and Labor, and several others.

tag(s): labor day (5)

In the Classroom

Offer a lesson from this site when planning student projects for National History Day or in conjunction with Labor Day. Use this site to have students compare labor issues in several states. Show students a timeline of labor history from one area and have them create a similar one for their own state or region using a site such as TimeRime reviewed here. Show selected videos (on your interactive whiteboard or projector). Share authentic photographs from this site when discussing employment topics or the history of unions. This site can also provide context when reading literature based in the Great Depression or industrialization era.
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Teachinghistory.org - National History Education Clearinghouse

Grades
6 to 12
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This is another incredibly rich site, so much so that it's difficult to know where to start in describing it. Designed to be a resource to those teaching history, the ...more
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This is another incredibly rich site, so much so that it's difficult to know where to start in describing it. Designed to be a resource to those teaching history, the site is divided into three main areas: teaching materials, history content, and best practices. The teaching materials section includes reviewed lesson plans, teaching guides, and a searchable index of state standards. The history content includes website reviews, multimedia resources, links to museums and historical sites and other resources. The best practices section looks at how one thinks as a historian, advice on using primary sources, and tips for those teaching history. There are brief video introductions to the site focused on different instructional levels (elementary, middle school, and high school). Tucked in the corners is a weekly history quiz, video interviews with historians, and an NHEC blog.

tag(s): history day (24), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

While the "history content" section of this website contains resources that might be directly usable in the classroom, there is much more here for the teacher to use in preparing lessons, learning more about topics of interest and in infusing the teaching of history with more primary documentation and historical thinking that has been past practice in a traditional social studies classroom. There is also a focus on the limitations of mass produced text books, and guidance on helping students begin to question what they find in those text books as historians. On this site there are interactive posters to use with your students to get them to start thinking like a historian. You can see the review for the elementary poster here,. Altogether, this is a very rich resource and should be in regular rotation among your "go to" bookmarked favorites.
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Spy Letters of the American Revolution - Clements Library, University of Michigan

Grades
4 to 12
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This fascinating site is based on an exhibit of American Revolutionary spy letters from the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Gallery of...more
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This fascinating site is based on an exhibit of American Revolutionary spy letters from the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Gallery of Letters provides a brief description of each letter and links to more information about the stories of the spies in the letter or the secret methods used to make the letter. This site is rich with primary sources, taking students back in time!

tag(s): evolution (99), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

The use of spy letters shows students a different perspective of the Revolutionary War. Have your students use the information about the spies and write a biography. Add a little mystery to your classroom and have students write spy letters from the perspective of people on each side of the war. Have students use the images and information from the site and create a poster using Canva reviewed here. Post the letters on an interactive whiteboard or projector and use the letters in an English class to discuss letter writing, grammar, and sentence structure. The whiteboard tools can be used to highlight and annotate. Several more examples of fun activities including writing with disappearing ink can be found in the Teacher's Lounge.

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Grades
6 to 12
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This ambitious site has something for anyone who teaches American history. In fact, if you love history, be prepared to completely lose track of time as you explore the site. ...more
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This ambitious site has something for anyone who teaches American history. In fact, if you love history, be prepared to completely lose track of time as you explore the site. From the homepage, click on "For Teachers and Students" to find lesson plans grouped into thematic modules, information about summer institutes for teachers, useful resources, and news about prizes and competitions for teachers and students. Clicking on "The Collection" provides access to a searchable database of primary documents, some themed online exhibitions, and a document of the week (check back often!). The portion of the site dedicated to Historians provides resources for more in-depth research, and may be useful to students working on History Day projects. From the homepage, you can access podcasts from historians, themed history slideshows, and a link to the Institute's regular journal History Now. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): history day (24), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

While you might turn to this site for a quick reference or document citation, this is the site you sit down with over the summer when you're planning your curriculum and lessons for the term or the year. There is simply so much here and so many good ways to access it that you will need to plan on spending significant time here.

Share the slideshows, podcasts, and primary documents on an interactive whiteboard or projector to supplement a lesson. Certainly you'll want to provide this link for your serious students who are doing research. Department chairs, be sure you pass along this resource to American History teachers throughout your district! Not only is it comprehensive, but it's user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Why not have cooperative learning groups explore various facets of this site and create multimedia presentations. Maybe a collaborative wiki about the topic researched. Not sure what a wiki is? Check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. How about having your students create podcasts using a site such as PodOMatic (reviewed here).
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Today in History - Library of Congress

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4 to 12
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The Library of Congress offers this daily look at historical events - mostly American. There is typically more than one event listed per day, and the text integrates cultural, literary,...more
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The Library of Congress offers this daily look at historical events - mostly American. There is typically more than one event listed per day, and the text integrates cultural, literary, and political trends into the daily reporting. This makes this daily nugget far more than just a collection of "factoids."

tag(s): history day (24)

In the Classroom

This site provides excellent historical research! For a classroom-ready activity each day to build understanding of historical events in the context of your students' prior knowledge, also try TeachersFirst's Dates That Matter. Include both links on your teacher web page for instant access by students both in and out of class. Maybe start a class wiki for your own "This Day" collection and assign student groups a day of their own. Add to it from year to year. Or have students write blog responses on class or individual blogs as they choose an event for the day from several sources and react to it.

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Today In History - Cowles

Grades
6 to 12
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A very good site for the history buff or those struggling to understand historical events. The story links have real depth and are well written for easy comprehension. Pictures make...more
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A very good site for the history buff or those struggling to understand historical events. The story links have real depth and are well written for easy comprehension. Pictures make the history come alive and support the information given. There are links to particular events of the day, a daily quiz, and a picture of the day. Be aware: some dates do not have any information and other dates provide a very brief list of "happenings."

tag(s): expository writing (43), history day (24)

In the Classroom

This site would be ideal for research projects. For a classroom-ready activity each day to build understanding of historical events in the context of your students' prior knowledge, also try TeachersFirst's Dates That Matter. Include both links on your teacher web page for instant access by students both in and out of class. Maybe start a class wiki for your own "This Day" collection and assign student groups a day of their own. Add to it from year to year. Or have students write blog responses on class or individual blogs as they choose an event for the day from several sources and react to it.

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Digital Vaults - National Archives

Grades
3 to 12
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this...more
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this Flash site. Start from eight featured topics. For a more in depth look at each subject and its associated categories, click on What's Interesting. A search feature is also available. An added feature at the bottom of the opening page is the "Pathways" tab. Students can participate in a "challenge" (in different levels) to find links between certain historical items. Students can also create their own pathways, writing about connections they find between certain archived items. In another section, students can create their own historical posters and movies from the archives. You can create a collection of items from the archives to retrieve or look at later, as well. This feature requires a free membership created by email address. There are also extensive lesson ideas and information for teachers at the small link, "Educators and Students," at the bottom of the page. Roll your mouse down to find it against the dark background. Note: the entire site is done in Flash (an HTML version is available from a small link at the bottom of the page). Get Flash from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (94), primary sources (92)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set for a unit in history or on inventions. Share a collection of images or invention drawings on a projector or whiteboard and ask what the invention will do. Or use the site as the starting point for individual or group projects. After demonstrating on an interactive whiteboard or projector, have students use laptops or lab computers to "collect" resources related to their assigned inventor, decade, or era in American history. Check your school policy regarding accessing student email. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.Students can use their log-ins to collect resources.

Since the documents are in the public domain (are not copyrighted), students may also download and use the files as part of other projects, such as video compilations, Powerpoint presentations, or multimedia of any sort. To access the resources in non-Flash format, click the small link to "research this record in ARC" in the detailed view of the item. You can then view and Save As for use elsewhere. Be sure you teach students about copying the URL and relevant information from this ARC page to cite the source and give credit in any presentation they make. This site is excellent for enrichment or projects for the gifted, as well. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class for students who are working in History Day projects or other assignments for your class.

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Battle Lines: Letters from America's Wars - Gilder Lehrman Institute and Legacy Project

Grades
8 to 12
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Bring authenticity and emotional impact to a study of one of America's military conflicts with this riveting collection of primary source documents. This compelling site presents personal...more
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Bring authenticity and emotional impact to a study of one of America's military conflicts with this riveting collection of primary source documents. This compelling site presents personal correspondence from more than 200 years of American history. Visitors can listen to and read letters that describe the loss of loved ones, the yearning for the comforts of home, and the traumatic experience of warfare. Full transcripts as well as scanned images of original letters are provided.

In the Classroom

Introduce this site over the interactive whiteboard or projector during a unit on one of the many wars in American History. Play a few of the audio recordings over the interactive whiteboard to introduce the conflict, having students listen quietly. To insure student attention, have students either write/draw a reflection OR have students create a digital reflection piece. Challenge students to create an online graphic to share using Tabblo reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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American Women Through Time - Ken Middleton

Grades
8 to 12
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Learn about specific time periods in America's past through the lens of women's history. This site provides a chronology of women's contributions in the United States from the nation's...more
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Learn about specific time periods in America's past through the lens of women's history. This site provides a chronology of women's contributions in the United States from the nation's infancy through the twentieth century. Students can "read more about it" by following links to relevant web sites for each event, or explore helpful research sources (census data, newspapers, diaries, etc.) for each specified area.

tag(s): women (94)

In the Classroom

This is an excellent resource for piecing together American history by examining primary source documents. Have cooperative learning groups investigate women's contributions in various decades and create a video. Share the videos using a site such as SchoolTube reviewed here.

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