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The Constitutional Convention

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5 to 12
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Interactive orginal paintings from the Convention, a great resource. ...more
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Interactive orginal paintings from the Convention, a great resource.

tag(s): constitution (79)

In the Classroom

Look at this site before planning your unit on the Founding Fathers and the New Republic in an American History class. Lloyd has provided a new take on the convention, creating a 4 day drama that summarizes the main events. There are a lot of primary sources and fresh takes on the convention here, making this site extremely beneficial to planning ahead for your unit.

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California As I Saw It - Library of Congress

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6 to 12
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The Library of Congress has collected original writings by settlers and explorers in California during the period 1850-1900. Indexed by author, subject, and title, this site offers...more
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The Library of Congress has collected original writings by settlers and explorers in California during the period 1850-1900. Indexed by author, subject, and title, this site offers lots of starting points for talented students interested in using primary source materials for research in history or social studies.

tag(s): california (27), explorers (61), gold rush (19)

In the Classroom

This would be a very useful site for covering the Gold Rush in a US history classroom. Select several documents and images that could be used for a document-centered activity in your classroom. Assign students to groups, with each receiving a different document and/or image. Have students fill out graphic organizers about each document, with the intentions of rotating all until students have received every one. At the end of the activity, have a class discussion of what students found and what their answers indicate. A refreshing way to teach Gold Rush history without another lecture.

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Archiving Early America

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7 to 12
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An Archivist's approach to early American documents and related information. A unique array of original newspapers, maps and writings come to life on screen just as they appeared to...more
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An Archivist's approach to early American documents and related information. A unique array of original newspapers, maps and writings come to life on screen just as they appeared to our forebears more than 200 years ago. These archival materials-- forming as they do a historical record of a significant time in the American experience-- are displayed in their original formats. Special Features: Material from 18th Century America-- all displayed digitally. Historic early American documents, trivia, life in Colonial times, Colonial crossword puzzle.

tag(s): colonial america (107)

In the Classroom

Not only is this site excellent for finding primary sources, but there is a great quiz offered that would be useful during a lesson reviewing a unit about the Revolution through the New Republic. If using learning centers incorporate the site, OR post the site on your class wiki to allow students to access it in and out of the classroom to practice. Very useful for an American history class!

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Rediscovering Jamestown - Virginia Historical Society

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6 to 12
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This site, created by the Virginia Historical Society, provides a look at recent archaeological activities around the site of the original Jamestown fort and settlement. In addition...more
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This site, created by the Virginia Historical Society, provides a look at recent archaeological activities around the site of the original Jamestown fort and settlement. In addition to descriptions and a number of photos, the site offers additional links to other sites dealing with Jamestown and early English settlements in Virginia.

tag(s): explorers (61)

In the Classroom

Use the map of Jamestown as a supplement to a lesson on the colony, and how early settlers lived. There is also information about the early settlement of Jamestown and the complications the recent immigrants faced while there. Beyond the map, students can use this site to find out information on James Fort and what these excavations are showing about life then. If in need of an activity, use this site in conjunction with several others, having students create a multimedia presentation detailing the Jamestown colony and what life was like then. After students have completed their research about Jamestown, have them create a multimedia presentation using UtellStory, reviewed here. This site allows users to narrate a picture. Challenge students to find a photo (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then narrate the photo as if it is a news report about Jamestown. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try PhotoPin, reviewed here.

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The Columbus Navigation Homepage

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4 to 8
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This is a privately maintained site offering detailed information on each of Columbus' several voyages to the New World. Good resources on navigation in the 15th century. Lots of information,...more
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This is a privately maintained site offering detailed information on each of Columbus' several voyages to the New World. Good resources on navigation in the 15th century. Lots of information, though visually less-than-stunning.

tag(s): explorers (61)

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Welcome To The West - PBS

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4 to 8
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This site provides students with several options in order to fully explore the era known as the Westward Expansion. "Events In The West" is an interactive timeline tracing events from...more
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This site provides students with several options in order to fully explore the era known as the Westward Expansion. "Events In The West" is an interactive timeline tracing events from ancient times to the early twentieth century. "Places In The West" is an interactive map covering the territory and times. "Tour The West" contains a multimedia guide which follows the eight-part PBS documentary series. For students completing research reports, I recommend clicking on " Archives of The West" which contains materials including memoirs, journals, letters, photos, and transcripts used in creating the documentary.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

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Ghost Towns of the West

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4 to 8
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Ghost towns are a great "hook" to get students interested in how and why frontier towns were settled, and the reasons those towns died out - sometimes only a few ...more
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Ghost towns are a great "hook" to get students interested in how and why frontier towns were settled, and the reasons those towns died out - sometimes only a few years later. This site has ghost towns indexed by state, with maps and a brief history of each town. Visually interesting history with a different twist.

tag(s): gold rush (19), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

This may not be the most valid information for your classroom, but it is a way to introduce students to frontier towns and discuss the results of the gold rush and the end of it. Save the game as a favorite on your computer desktop and use it as a learning center or station.

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Gallery of the Open Frontier - University of Nebraska

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4 to 8
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A work in progress from the University of Nebraska. ...more
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A work in progress from the University of Nebraska.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

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Pony Express History

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4 to 8
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A detailed, text-heavy account of the formation and history of the pony express mail service in the western United States. What this site lacks in visuals it more than makes ...more
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A detailed, text-heavy account of the formation and history of the pony express mail service in the western United States. What this site lacks in visuals it more than makes up for with its collection of colorful stories about the owners and riders in this uniquely American communication service.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Save the "bunkhouse" portion of this site as a favorite and allow students to use it as a learning center. There are many sections student can research as well as a quiz section teachers can use to assess their participation in the webquest. This site would be a great supplement during a unit on Westward expansion.

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The Oregon Trail

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4 to 8
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Another trail site, this one is based on the PBS program by the same name. This resource includes stories from the trail, a chronolgy of the trail's development, and an ...more
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Another trail site, this one is based on the PBS program by the same name. This resource includes stories from the trail, a chronolgy of the trail's development, and an on-line teachers' guide. The site has interesting graphics and a focus on the stories of the people who walked and rode the trail.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

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The Gold Rush - PBS

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4 to 12
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This site provides background information, timeline, and illustrated explanations of what happened during the gold rush. Originally intended to accompany the PBS documentary, the site...more
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This site provides background information, timeline, and illustrated explanations of what happened during the gold rush. Originally intended to accompany the PBS documentary, the site can also be useful for those who do not have access to the video. If you choose to use the video, there are lesson plans and handouts to use before and after viewing. The A "Fun Facts" section of information is interesting for all.

tag(s): gold rush (19), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans here that show you how to incorporate all the features of the site into a unit on the Gold Rush and Westward Expansion. Excellent resource for American history teachers, just be sure to save it as a favorite to allow for easy retrieval later on.

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Fur Traders & Mountain Men

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5 to 12
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A look at fur trading in the Rocky Mountain west. ...more
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A look at fur trading in the Rocky Mountain west.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource to find primary source material about the fur traders, as well as what life was like for the first American settlers on the west. This site would be useful during a unit on Westward Expansion, and primary sources can be used a variety of ways. Try finding a shorter letter or piece and projecting it on the board as students are first walking into your classroom. Have immediate directions posted on the board, instructing students to sit down and respond to a specific aspect of the piece in some sort of journal entry. This process not only sets the tone for the material to be covered in class, but it also gives you and students the time needed to settle down and get focused and ready to learn. Great resource for an American history teacher.

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Lewis & Clark - PBS

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6 to 12
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This is the web site for Ken Burns' PBS series on the travels of Lewis and Clark. It provides a significant resource for studying the explorers' travels, along with study ...more
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This is the web site for Ken Burns' PBS series on the travels of Lewis and Clark. It provides a significant resource for studying the explorers' travels, along with study suggestions.

tag(s): explorers (61), lewis and clark (15)

In the Classroom

Such a great site! Use this site as a resource for anything and everything concerning Lewis and Clark. Use the interactive map over the projector to show students how far their travels extended, as well as to show the growing size of the United States at that time. There is also an interactive story that could be used as a learning center, primary sources that could be used in discussion, and various other activity ideas on this site. US history teachers will appreciate this one!

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Klondike Gold Rush Stories - Smithsonian Institution

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4 to 8
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Drawn from the Smithsonian's history of the U.S. Postal Service, this page of Gold Rush stories includes narrative and pictures explaining how people arrived in Alaska and traveled...more
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Drawn from the Smithsonian's history of the U.S. Postal Service, this page of Gold Rush stories includes narrative and pictures explaining how people arrived in Alaska and traveled inland to stake their claims in the gold fields. The site is remarkable more for its variety of original sources than for its visual effects, but there's a lot to learn here.

tag(s): alaska (25), gold rush (19)

In the Classroom

What a creative way to meld Literature and the history of the Gold Rush in this site! Use some of the resources and stories in this site in your classroom to teach about the Gold Rush in Alaska in a non-lecture format.

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Along the Chisholm Trail

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4 to 12
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Here's a well-designed "labor of love" site that introduces a trail used by cattlemen. Along the trail, you'll learn why the Missouri ranchers didn't like the Texas ranchers, why a...more
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Here's a well-designed "labor of love" site that introduces a trail used by cattlemen. Along the trail, you'll learn why the Missouri ranchers didn't like the Texas ranchers, why a longhorn is a great steer, and other vital facts. There's serious history in all this, and the narrative makes it fun to read.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use this site to teach about the "wild west," and how it was affected by the pioneers who settled it. Use this site as a learning center or station during a unit on the West and Westward Expansion. This site would probably work best with a graphic organizer to accompany it. We recommend Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here).

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The Alamo

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4 to 8
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The web site from the historical monument offers a description of the events that happened there and the larger story of the Texas independence movement. ...more
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The web site from the historical monument offers a description of the events that happened there and the larger story of the Texas independence movement.

tag(s): native americans (78), westward expansion (29)

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Voices from the Trading Post - Northern Arizona University

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6 to 12
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This site from the University of Northern Arizona offers archival photos and transcripts of interviews with Native Americans whose ancestors were involved in trading. The trading post,...more
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This site from the University of Northern Arizona offers archival photos and transcripts of interviews with Native Americans whose ancestors were involved in trading. The trading post, though, is mostly a convenient meeting point for native and western cultures. There are some striking images and powerful text here. The site would be a great starting point for a look at "authentic" native experiences.

tag(s): native americans (78)

In the Classroom

Not only are there oral interviews and other primary sources on this site - but there are also free lesson plans provided that help teachers use them creatively in the classroom! This is a great find for a US history or government class - just make sure to save it as a favorite for easy retrieval later on.

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Turtle Tracks

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4 to 8
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This newsletter with a Native American slant includes articles, stories, and information about Native American culture, customs, holidays, and heroes. The texts include pictures and...more
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This newsletter with a Native American slant includes articles, stories, and information about Native American culture, customs, holidays, and heroes. The texts include pictures and maps. Subject matter varies, and publication appears to be sporadic. Still, it's a nice collection of different materials.

tag(s): native americans (78)

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Pre-Contact Native American Housing

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4 to 8
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Though this site spends much time discussing the inaccuracies of Euro-centric portrayals of Native Americans and their housing, its detailed descriptions of the form and function of...more
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Though this site spends much time discussing the inaccuracies of Euro-centric portrayals of Native Americans and their housing, its detailed descriptions of the form and function of several different housing types are well worth a visit. The visual material includes drawings, archival photos, and artwork by Native Americans showing the way they lived in a variety of climates. Privately published.

tag(s): native americans (78)

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Photographs of Edward S. Curtis - Library of Congress

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4 to 12
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This Library of Congress exhibit contains dozens of photographs made of Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection concentrates in the Pacific northwest,...more
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This Library of Congress exhibit contains dozens of photographs made of Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection concentrates in the Pacific northwest, and was an attempt to record the cultural life of the tribes there. Though some of the images were "staged" by modern standards, these images offer a "real world" glimpse of cultures many students can only read about.

tag(s): native americans (78)

In the Classroom

Use the images on this site to create a "picture walk" in your classroom, introducing the topic of Native American cultures. Select 10-15 of the more powerful and diverse images, hanging them up in different locations around your classroom. Have students rotate around the classroom every 30-45 seconds, jotting down what they observe and infer about each image until the entire class has completed the circuit. After the class is back in their seats, have a class discussion based on what they observed and what this says about the specific tribes studied. A great way to get students thinking about the content in a way that's more personal and lecture-less!

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