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Essay Exchange Unit - George Cassutto

Grades
9 to 12
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This unit plan gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their writing from a totally impartial source. Students research and write position papers on a variety of topics, working...more
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This unit plan gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their writing from a totally impartial source. Students research and write position papers on a variety of topics, working step by step from to thesis statement to writing. The students then email their papers via e-mail to other schools and students for feedback. The students' final papers are posted to the school's web site for global access.

While this site does give a template of lessons for students to follow as a guide, teachers have a wide range of flexibility with it. Topics can be about anything of your choosing; the length of time given to the lesson and the type and amount of feedback is controlled. While this project started within the subject of Social Studies, this unit can be used in conjunction with any subject.

tag(s): writing (367)

In the Classroom

Teachers can adapt the assignment to use other genres of expression to evaluate student performance. All subject area teachers can integrate the procedures listed to develop on-line projects for their students. The ideal places to post papers for feedback and final publication would be on a blog (for comments) or wiki (for collaborative editing and additions).

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U.S. Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud - Chirag Mehta

Grades
9 to 12
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SHOW your students the changes in U.S. presidential politics and policy over time using this "tag cloud" of word frequencies from presidential speeches (and a few before we even HAD...more
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SHOW your students the changes in U.S. presidential politics and policy over time using this "tag cloud" of word frequencies from presidential speeches (and a few before we even HAD a president) 1776-2007. If you have never seen a tag cloud, it is simply a way of using the relative size of words to show the frequency with which that word appears. Slide the slider across the timeline at the top of the tag cloud to see words appear, shrink, disappear, etc from the language of U.S. leaders over time. Note the introduction of new terms (terrorism) and when they appear. What a marvelous way to build perspective on history and awareness of the importance of rhetoric in the role of a leader.

tag(s): debate (44), elections (78), politics (99), speech (94), speeches (18)

In the Classroom

Share the tag cloud on a projector-- or ideally interactive whiteboard-- as you ask students to hypothesize about the words that appear at key times: the start of a war, after Sept 11, etc. Then include the link on your teacher web page so you can assign them (in or out of class) to write an essay or prepare a visual presentation explaining why certain terms were vital in the political and policy landscape of the times. Using primary sources from the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, students can create multimedia (PowerPoint or video) shows "portraying" a year, decade, or era and the importance of its tagged words (Word art would make a great way to show the words on screen).

With the 2008 presidential election quickly approaching, have students analyze presidential speeches and create their own Speech Tag Clouds about the message. Or have students create a "mock" candidate and then design a "tag cloud" about the candidate.

Note that this tag cloud site DOES identify its sources-- something you want to be sure to highlight to your students. Then ask if students think the choice of sources is the best possible--should it include others?

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What's Changed? - BBC

Grades
1 to 3
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If you teaching about life 100-years ago or about life on the farm, use this simple web challenge that asks students to find the five items in the picture ...more
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If you teaching about life 100-years ago or about life on the farm, use this simple web challenge that asks students to find the five items in the picture that would not have been around in the "olden days." Be sure to click on the "Play Game with Explanations". As the students click on the items that have been invented/discovered in the past 100-years, the narrator provides the students with some background information about the objects. The site is British, so American students may make comments about the pronunciations. The website provides general standards (find them by visiting the "Parents/Teachers" link). The entire activity requires Flash, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): energy (203), transportation (41)

In the Classroom

The activity would work well as a learning center for small groups. Have the students keep a list of the five items that have changed, and then discuss the findings as a class once all groups have completed the challenge. Extend the discussion by having students survey at home and bring in additional "new" item ideas for a long class list or bulletin board. Maybe even add digital pictures.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Paper Toys - PaperToys.com

Grades
3 to 10
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This crafty website provides students (and teachers) with directions to create paper toys. The patterns are printables on the web page. The website provides instructions for approximately...more
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This crafty website provides students (and teachers) with directions to create paper toys. The patterns are printables on the web page. The website provides instructions for approximately 100 unique models. The types of models vary from monuments (such as the Chrysler Building or the Eiffel Tower) to holiday creations. There are printable instructions provided for each model. This website is a refreshing activity for art classes, social studies classes or any class seeking a creative method to use to re-create famous monuments and other objects or buildings.

tag(s): architecture (84), paper folding (5)

In the Classroom

The paper folding activities would work well with cooperative learning groups. For example, during a unit on architecture or structures, have each group recreate a different monument or architectural design. Then teach about the various concepts of architecture by using the groups' models. Ask gifted/talented students to analyze how the paper fold-ups work then design a model of your school. Some of the options are purely entertainment oriented. You may want to print the paper patterns yourself instead of sending students to the site.

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Radio Days: A Webquest - Cynthia Matzat

Grades
6 to 10
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This is a simple webquest to introduce students to many of the techniques used in radio that are still used in film production today. It also familiarizes students with the ...more
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This is a simple webquest to introduce students to many of the techniques used in radio that are still used in film production today. It also familiarizes students with the era of radio -- an important experience for those trying to understand history of the first half of the twentieth century. The webquest is almost deceptively simple. The age of your students and the sophistication with which they approach the task can determine the level you want to teach. It includes the elements of typical webquests from introduction through evaluation in an easy, step-by-step manner.

tag(s): 1930s (15), 1940s (13), decades (14), radio (27), writing (367)

In the Classroom

Although this was written for 6-8th graders, it is a lesson easily adaptable to older students. The list of resources is very good, and the kinds of embellishments you can make on the tasks are limitless. It is a great project for students to work on in small groups, allowing students of all abilities an opportunity for success.

If you ever considered podcasting, this webquest is the perfect lead-in. Your social studies(or language arts) students will love actually producing their scripts for "broadcast" on the web. Bring the 1930s to life in your classroom!

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Elizabethan Theatre: The Dawn of Modern Drama - William Eyerly

Grades
7 to 12
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Constructed by a practicing teacher, this webquest is simple, but very good. It takes students through a series of searches that lets them think about the difference between society...more
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Constructed by a practicing teacher, this webquest is simple, but very good. It takes students through a series of searches that lets them think about the difference between society and theatre of that time. While Mr. Eyerly has constructed the quest in such a way as to take the place of or significantly augment a unit plan (covering 45 days) on Elizabethan drama, with the culminating project being a student film, many parts of this are adaptable to shorter periods and less ambitious outcomes.

tag(s): elizabethan (16)

In the Classroom

There are many ways you can use this webquest to assist in teaching the beginning of modern drama, Elizabethan theatre, or Shakespeare. He goes through the quest process of introduction, task, process, and evaluation, but he also includes a teacher page with tips and ideas that is useful to the classroom teacher. If you have never done a complete webquest, why not consider trying ONE per year to see the benefits of a project-based approach, especially if someone else has already created the project for you. A grading rubric is includede in the Student Pages.

To assist in script editing and peer review, consider having students write and turn in their scripts on Google Docs, reviewed here. This can allow you an easier opportunity at giving timely feedback, and make it easier for groups to work in separate locations if need be - great for those with busy schedules.

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Homework High - 4Learning

Grades
5 to 10
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This is a great website to provide for your students to use at home. If they get stuck on a homework question, they can try searching for the answer ...more
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This is a great website to provide for your students to use at home. If they get stuck on a homework question, they can try searching for the answer at Homework High. The variety of topics includes math, science, history, geography, English and language (including French, German, and Spanish). The website also provides links to other websites for additional practice. There are also tips for improving study skills.

tag(s): french (92), german (67), homework (45), spanish (110)

In the Classroom

Include a link to this website on your classroom newsletter or from your teacher web page for student help at home.

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What I Did for my Summer Vacation - Montana Historical Society

Grades
3 to 8
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This is no regular ol' vacation spot. Click your way through either a 1902 or 1916 vacation in Glacier National Park or Helena, Montana. Choose what you will ...more
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This is no regular ol' vacation spot. Click your way through either a 1902 or 1916 vacation in Glacier National Park or Helena, Montana. Choose what you will pack into your virtual luggage, then meet your relatives. Enjoy the vintage photos from that era, and at the end of your visit, you may choose to write about your experience. The Montana Historical Society posts the best stories in the Read a Story section of the website. Even though you're traveling through Montana at this website, from a historical aspect, it could be applied to most places in America during the early 1900s. Remember this one for your study of decades of the 20th century, as well.

tag(s): 1900s (37), decades (14), montana (4)

In the Classroom

Start the history lessons on Day One as your class compares vacationing today with vacations taken around the turn of the century -- 20th Century that is. Venn Diagrams make the comparisons easy to visualize. If you have a whiteboard or projector, your class will enjoy vintage vacationing together. With digital photography it is easy to turn your students' modern vacation pictures into sepia or black and white photos to create your own Historical Vacation Bulletin Board or PowerPoint show or "postcards" from a vacation in another era(prints easily into a Big Book).

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History Detectives Kids - PBS

Grades
3 to 6
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This History Detective for Kids site features the same stars that investigate on the adult program. Your class will find many things to do, including examining the parts of ...more
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This History Detective for Kids site features the same stars that investigate on the adult program. Your class will find many things to do, including examining the parts of a detective's kit, submitting a photo of a mystery object, coming back to the site weekly to check for a new clue, and solving a real mystery. With video clips of mysteries in history and mystery games, children will forget they're "in school." Users can create an individual identity by joining the detective's club. For safety's sake at school, you may want to create a teacher account that you use as a class. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

In the Classroom

Use the History Scene Investigators area to teach basic geography and U.S. landmarks on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Find many lesson ideas for teaching inquiry, hypothesis-testing, and problem-solving processes in your science curriculum using the games available on this site---see the Teacher Area.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Mayflower History - Caleb Johnson

Grades
2 to 12
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The Mayflower comes alive as you explore the passenger list with accompanying personal history and genealogy. Click on the Pilgrim History link for a history of Thanksgiving and other...more
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The Mayflower comes alive as you explore the passenger list with accompanying personal history and genealogy. Click on the Pilgrim History link for a history of Thanksgiving and other Mayflower-era topics, including authentic recipes.

tag(s): genealogy (7), pilgrims (17), primary sources (93), thanksgiving (37)

In the Classroom

Only a visit to a far away museum could get any better than having the full-text primary sources which are available with a click on the left menu. The Mayflower experience would come to life as students fictitiously become one of the voyagers. Perhaps students could adopt a Mayflower 'ancestor' and write how they are alike or unlike. Around Thanksgiving, teachers may want to try some of the original recipes for an authentic Mayflower 'flavor' to their lesson plans.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Beacon Learning Center: Student Web Lessons - Beacon Learning Center

Grades
K to 12
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This website, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, provides an enormous collection of "web lessons" (interactives) for all grade levels. There are lessons in language...more
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This website, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, provides an enormous collection of "web lessons" (interactives) for all grade levels. There are lessons in language arts, math, science, social studies, and health. There are too many lesson plans to count - and all are projector, laptop, or whiteboard-ready. Just to give you an idea of some of these unique lessons, some of the titles include "Where is Japan?", "Walrus World", "Piece of Pie", "Medians", "Fence Me In", and "Critter Craze". On the main page, a brief description is provided for each lesson plan. Click Teacher Solutions > Lesson Plans to search by subject or grade level.

tag(s): charts and graphs (198), evolution (102), expository writing (44), industrial revolution (25), native americans (77), primary sources (93), probability (133), symmetry (54), writing (367)

In the Classroom

If you want ready-to-go lessons guaranteed to work well on your interactive whiteboard, this collection is a winner. You simply open the activity on the whiteboard and have students tap and drag their way through as you talk with the class. (Invite your most "active" student to be "Vanna White" for a great behavior management solution). Many lessons would work well on laptops or on a computer cluster center, as well.

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Learning from Lyrics - Johnathan Chase,

Grades
9 to 12
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This site offers a unit/lesson plan that provides the opportunity for students to use their own music to be involved in poetry and music. It also gives links to other ...more
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This site offers a unit/lesson plan that provides the opportunity for students to use their own music to be involved in poetry and music. It also gives links to other pertinent sites, such as a "Blues Bus Trip" that involves students in the history of their music. This is great for Humanitites-oriented classes.

tag(s): lyrics (20), poetry (225)

In the Classroom

Offering six 45-minute lessons, this is a wonderful site for your reluctant learners. While students are encouraged to use their own music, you can offer suggestions of different types of music (such as folk music or Celtic, opera or jazz or blues, etc.). You might adjust plans around the lessons given, assigning different music genres to small groups or individuals which would then incorporate research into the project. The links on this page offer a wide variety of places to go and things to do for students.

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Resources for Primary Teachers - Woodlands Junior School

Grades
K to 5
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Here is another wonderful website created by the Woodlands Junior School. This website is basically a compilation site for teachers. There are links and activities for math, science,...more
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Here is another wonderful website created by the Woodlands Junior School. This website is basically a compilation site for teachers. There are links and activities for math, science, special needs, history, geography, health, holidays, and many other subject areas. The website also offers many lesson plans - find the lesson plans by clicking on the subject. Note: The site is British, so beware of spelling differences! Most of the activities are interactive and require FLASH, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): gifted (92), holidays (151)

In the Classroom

This website is ideal for interactive whiteboards. The amount of topics and information is truly amazing. Don't miss this incredible resource!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Panoramas.dk

Grades
K to 12
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Have a high speed Internet connection? (Most schools do)The you MUST visit these 3D virtual tours of beautiful sites all over the world with your students. Read the Welcome message...more
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Have a high speed Internet connection? (Most schools do)The you MUST visit these 3D virtual tours of beautiful sites all over the world with your students. Read the Welcome message on the home page for directions and details, then explore the current features and several years of archives for 3D virtual tours from major world capitals to true "experiences" such as Times Square and white water rafting. Even the tour of a Banyan tree will amaze you. Bring the world into your classroom for geography, landforms, world cultures, foreign language study, or literary settings. Be in the midst of festivals or atop the Sydney Bridge. The site requires Quicktime. The Welcome section can help you troubleshoot. Or you can get Quicktime from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.. Just be sure to share in full screen (high band) view , if you can! Click the FULL SCREEN QTVR FEATURE > ARCHIVE to find more choices. There is also a link to Arounder, a collection of European Capitals in 3D tours.

tag(s): images (275), landforms (47)

In the Classroom

Use a projector--or better yet, an interactive whiteboard--to take students atop the Eiffel Tower, to the high Sierras, or aboard a Mars explorer. Allow student to navigate on the whiteboard. Nte that Shift and Ctrl keys alow you to zoom, as well. Be sure to click at the top of the 3D view to Read More about the image. These tours will make landforms real, culture come alive, and science a visual art form. As you introduce terms and place, use images! You could even use a tour as a writing prompt for poetry or descriptive writing. Include the link on your teacher web page for students to "tour the world" outside of class or feature one location a week to broaden class horizons on a classroom desktop.

Comments

What a GREAT idea! Thank you. I found one with mountain biking and vistas. I'll put it up early in the period and come back to it in the end and have them write their exit cards about it. Then I will revisit it in a week or two when we start talking about metaphorical language. Shirley, CA, Grades: 6 - 12
I plan to use this as a way to start the school year with my sixth grade G/T kids. I will display a panorama on an interactive whiteboard-- one of mountains with peaks and valleys. I will ask, "Why would I show you this and say that this is our classroom this year?" The students will write down an idea on a slip of paper, guessing why I might use this as an introduction to my class. They will most likely introduce all of the classroom conduct and learning environment issues that I want to touch upon that first day: peaks and valleys during the year, some rugged terrain, studying mountains and geography, some amazing views (everyone's opinions), and more. It will also get them thinking in analogies and allow me to see how quickly some of them do this and how literal others are. Thinking, PA, Grades: 5 - 10

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Twain: Tom Sawyer--Mythic Adventurer - Jayne Karsten

Grades
8 to 12
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This lesson focuses on the content and style of development in Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and explores the nature of Tom Sawyer as a youthful "American Adam." Offered ...more
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This lesson focuses on the content and style of development in Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and explores the nature of Tom Sawyer as a youthful "American Adam." Offered in seven 45-minute lesson plans, this site has great activities, particularly for 8th and 9th graders. It incorporates Twain's classic with a humanities angle that gives students a broader view of what education and life were like in the mid-19th century in America.

In the Classroom

Use portions of these lessons; then allow students to choose among the various project options, perhaps using multiple intelligence approach to facilitate their choices.
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Primary Homework Help - Mandy Barrow

Grades
K to 5
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Wow - this resource is amazing! This website provides numerous activities and/or games for extra practice in literacy, math, science, history, geography, art, and religion. Some examples...more
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Wow - this resource is amazing! This website provides numerous activities and/or games for extra practice in literacy, math, science, history, geography, art, and religion. Some examples of the specific activities include, "Saving the Environment", "Fraction Monkeys", and "Ancient Egypt". The site provides a huge amount of topics and a wide range of activities. Note: The site is British, so beware of spelling differences!

tag(s): fractions (234), grammar (214), habitats (84), homework (45), human body (130), measurement (160), money (186), spelling (169)

In the Classroom

This website would be an excellent resource to use with an interactive whiteboard. You may also want to provide this link on your teacher web page for parents to use at home. Nearly all subject areas (and topics) are included. Do yourself a favor - and utilize this excellent resource! Learning support teachers will love the opportunities for their students to get extra practice.
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Acceptance Speech by Doris Voitier - Doris Voitier/ John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Foundation

Grades
K to 12
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Doris Voitier, Superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish Schools in New Orleans area gave this speech in acceptance of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's Profiles in Courage Award...more
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Doris Voitier, Superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish Schools in New Orleans area gave this speech in acceptance of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's Profiles in Courage Award in 2007. Her account of the challenges during and after Hurricane Katrina and the response by the staff of the St. Bernard Parish schools is awe-inspiring and heartening to educators. Her oral history also provides a powerful view of FEMA and the U.S. government from the eyes of hurricane survivors and local public officials.

TeachersFirst is fortunate to have Doris Voitier as a member of the board of directors of our parent company and is proud to congratulate her on this prestigious award.

tag(s): hurricanes (40)

In the Classroom

Educators anywhere will respond to this account on a very personal level. In the classroom, however, this account can also spark discussion about the role of the government in natural disasters, the structure and functions of local government agencies, such as the schools, and the very nature of local economies. Share this real-life story as the beginning of a class discussion on history, government, or economics at the local, state, and federal level.

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National Women's Hall of Fame - National Women's Hall of Fame

Grades
6 to 12
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The National Women's Hall of Fame celebrates the contributions of women to society and each year nominates outstanding women for inclusion. This site contains brief biographies of...more
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The National Women's Hall of Fame celebrates the contributions of women to society and each year nominates outstanding women for inclusion. This site contains brief biographies of each of these women.

tag(s): women (92)

In the Classroom

This site would be useful as a resource for teachers who assign "heroes" biographies, particularly during Women's History month. As a class activity, or in small groups, brainstorm a list of modern women, not included on this site, for a future nomination. Challenge students to research one of these modern women and write up nominations. Create the new biographies, using the same format as this site, by using a tool like Sway, reviewed here.

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American Experience: New Orleans - PBS

Grades
6 to 12
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The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent efforts to rebuild the city of New Orleans have brought attention to this distinctive city. This site provides resources for helping...more
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The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent efforts to rebuild the city of New Orleans have brought attention to this distinctive city. This site provides resources for helping students understand its unique history from historical and cultural perspectives.

There are several great interactive resources provided including audio clips and commentary about New Orleans' great musical tradition, and a flash-enabled map showing the growth of the city over time. Whether you're interested in teaching music, particularly American Jazz, or the history of New Orleans' diverse melting pot of cultures or the politics of race in the Katrina recovery process, you will find good content here. Teacher resources include lesson plans on history, civics, music and geography.

tag(s): jazz (15)

In the Classroom

Share the interactive portions on projector and speakers or laptops, as you ask your students to propose a better way for government agencies to prepare for and respond to disasters. Using this site and many others, they can gather evidence to support their proposals. Don't miss the accounts by the Superintendent of the St. Bernard Schools as another source.
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The American Experience: Technology - PBS

Grades
6 to 12
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A companion to a PBS series on the impact of technology on culture, this site links to discussions of three separate innovations: the telephone, the television and the New ...more
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A companion to a PBS series on the impact of technology on culture, this site links to discussions of three separate innovations: the telephone, the television and the New York City subway. There is also a nice technology time line that shows students the explosion of inventions beginning in the 19th century. Teachers' guides within each section provide lesson plan ideas.

tag(s): evolution (102), industrial revolution (25), vision (85)

In the Classroom

The Flash-enabled technology timeline would be a great illustration of the impact of the industrial revolution on American culture. Use this on an interactive whiteboard or projector as you ask students to imagine their worlds without these inventions and predict the next ground breaking technology. While the section on the New York City subway system may seem to be less important, students might be encouraged to think about the relative failure of public transportation in the US and how that impacts the current oil crisis.
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