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

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

tag(s): supreme court (24)

In the Classroom

There is a really nice "balance of powers" exercise that goes way beyond a simple discussion of the Supreme Court. Students look at all three branches of government and determine which branch has power in a variety of contemporary situations. This lesson plan is good as a stand-alone, but also provides a lot of jumping off places for further discussion and adaptation. Use a projector, as the plan suggests, to share the short video clips, available in several formats.
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IOU--An Introduction to the National Debt - PBS The Democracy Project

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6 to 12
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This site presents a lesson plan introducing students to the concept of the National Debt. Students are challenged to compare the National Debt with a personal or family debt ...more
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This site presents a lesson plan introducing students to the concept of the National Debt. Students are challenged to compare the National Debt with a personal or family debt and to apply principles of budgeting to a discussion of governmental budgeting. There is a link to the (constantly) updated National Debt Clock, a nifty game asking students to estimate what portion of the US budget goes to what categories of expenditures, and a similar, but more elegant simulation game that challenges students to make decisions about budget allocations from UC-Berkley. The two budget exercises would be extremely useful in a general discussion of the US government and its responsibilities. Students too often say "We should spend more money on XXX" without understanding the complexities of budgeting.

In the Classroom

You may want to integrate using a spreadsheet to create a budget as part of this study, as well, especially if you are working with high school students who will soon be on their own.
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Foreign War and Domestic Freedom: A Delicate Balance - PBS

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9 to 12
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This site, connected with the PBS show NOW, provides a lesson plan on civil liberties. The lesson plan is largely centered around the viewing of a segment on NOW, ...more
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This site, connected with the PBS show NOW, provides a lesson plan on civil liberties. The lesson plan is largely centered around the viewing of a segment on NOW, and provides worksheets for summarizing the panel discussion contained in the segment. However, there are links to some other nice resources: a brief PowerPoint presentation on civil liberties, a nice animated clip (produced by Libertarians) illustrating how civil liberties denied during difficult times can threaten society, an overview of historical periods in the US when civil liberties were restricted, and a timeline of restrictions since September 11.

In the Classroom

The links to resources on this site are probably of more value than the lesson plan itself. Each of them would serve as a good introduction or illustration in a more general discussion of civil liberties in a high school civics, history or government course. There are also two very nifty on-line quizzes that evaluate your general political ideology after answering a few questions about your views on government.
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NewsHour Extra Lesson Plan: The United Nations and Reform - PBS

Grades
9 to 12
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This site, connected to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, looks at efforts and rationale for reform at the United Nations. There is an overview of the history of ...more
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This site, connected to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, looks at efforts and rationale for reform at the United Nations. There is an overview of the history of the United Nations, including a nice PDF handout for students. The second part focuses on some of the organizational challenges faced by the UN and asks whether the UN is addressing the issues it was designed for.

tag(s): united nations (7)

In the Classroom

The information provided is fairly dense, and the issues and discussion of reform are probably beyond the scope of a general history class. However, the historical information would be useful for a more general audience, and the questions related to reform would be suitable for an upper level class on civics, government or modern US history.
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Get Energized! - US Bureau of Land Management

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5 to 8
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Learn all about energy and conservation using this highly-interactive site with your students. There is a video intro "Energy Snapshot," an interactive look at energy and environment...more
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Learn all about energy and conservation using this highly-interactive site with your students. There is a video intro "Energy Snapshot," an interactive look at energy and environment solutions ("Powering Our Planet"), a "Watt do you Know" game, and a printable (pdf) teacher guide, complete with national standards. The teacher guide includes lesson plans and was orignally designed to accompany a CD-ROM version of the site. All components of the original CD-ROM do appear on the site, however. Your computer MUST have FLASH and either speakers or headphones to run this site!

tag(s): conservation (126), energy (204), environment (322)

In the Classroom

Use the interactive explorations on a projector os interactive whiteboard, then let students explore them individually or in pairs.
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World News in Special English - VOA

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4 to 8
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VOA offers audio and written radio scripts of a wide range of news stories in areas including science, agriculture, culture, health, and education. The language used is simple, and...more
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VOA offers audio and written radio scripts of a wide range of news stories in areas including science, agriculture, culture, health, and education. The language used is simple, and the stories are read more slowly than the average radio broadcast. The site includes its own dictionary ("Word Book") and pronunciation guide, as well as links to many other features. Contains RealAudio and MP3 downloadable audio files. If you have high speed internet, you can also use the streaming option.

tag(s): agriculture (58), news (262)

In the Classroom

Use this simplified news site to help students improve listening skills and vocabulary while learning about current events. This is an easy way to differentiate for students who process information more slowly as English language learners or for other reasons.

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Hezbollah Backgrounder - Council on Foreign Relations

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9 to 12
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Get the basics on Hezbollah for your current events discussions and to assure that students have the facts. ...more
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Get the basics on Hezbollah for your current events discussions and to assure that students have the facts.

tag(s): middle east (36), terrorism (47)

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Election 2006 - New York Times

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6 to 12
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Use a clickable national map to analyze the 2006 races for governor, senate, and house in all 50 states. See recent polling data, historical trends, and even predict outcomes to ...more
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Use a clickable national map to analyze the 2006 races for governor, senate, and house in all 50 states. See recent polling data, historical trends, and even predict outcomes to see their impact on Congress as a whole. You can save your "scenarios" for future reference. Note: you must join the New York Times online (FREE), a valuable resource for any classroom. You can make one account, and multiple computers can log in at once. Just don't forget your user name and password!

Although this resource was created for the 2006 election, the background information is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history.

tag(s): elections (78), politics (98)

In the Classroom

This would be a great site to visit repeatedly throughout the ramp-up to the election. It would be terrific on an interactive whiteboard. You could also assign students to create their own log-ins and generate their own scenarios. based on their own research (encourage ownership!). Then compare their predictions with the actual results. Or role-play groups as they present their scenarios in Republican (or Democratic) National Committee budget meetings and decide strategies.

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Many Things.org Daily - Charles I. Kelly & Lawrence E. Kelly

Grades
4 to 12
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Part of "Interesting Things for ESL Students," this unadorned site changes daily and provides common slang (near the top of the page), idioms, or proverbs and definitions plus daily...more
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Part of "Interesting Things for ESL Students," this unadorned site changes daily and provides common slang (near the top of the page), idioms, or proverbs and definitions plus daily grammar quizzes. It also features an audio broadcast of a simplified news release backed up with archives (Click on links below Listening). Also available is a multilingual translating dictionary and access to three top search engines.

tag(s): grammar (208), idioms (44), news (262), slang (15), verbs (39)

In the Classroom

Use this to beef up vocabulary, to explore culture through idioms and proverbs, and for listening and discussion practice in response to news reports. Great to fill in 5 - 10 minutes at the beginning or end of classes! For the regular classroom teacher, this may provide an alternate way for ESL students to "study" current events. Be sure to mark it in Favorites on your classroom computer for these students to access (or place a shortcut on the desktop). Note: you need speakers for the audio!

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North Korea - CIA FactBook - CIA

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6 to 12
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The CIA's Factbook is pretty dry reading, but this site does provide some of the history of Korea, including the post-World War II division into North and South. There are ...more
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The CIA's Factbook is pretty dry reading, but this site does provide some of the history of Korea, including the post-World War II division into North and South. There are other facts about culture, government, and economy, but North Korea remains one of the world's least-known and least-understood nations. Could be a useful reference for discussion of current events or a research source for projects on countries.

tag(s): korea (15)

In the Classroom

Include this in your supplemental teacher links pages during a unit on Asia or Korea.

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War News Radio - Swarthmore College

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6 to 12
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Produced by a talented, well-trained group of college students, this online audio resource - available as podcasts, through RSS syndication, and on the web, presents detailed, well-researched...more
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Produced by a talented, well-trained group of college students, this online audio resource - available as podcasts, through RSS syndication, and on the web, presents detailed, well-researched short reports about the war in Iraq. Many segments include on-the-scene interviews with Iraqis and troops in the field. The site also includes a collection of background reports, like "Iraq 101" that help provide context for the reporting

tag(s): blogs (86), iraq (32), terrorism (47)

In the Classroom

Try this one as a current events source for personalized, less sensational reports on events in Iraq.

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IbisEye Hurricane Tracking - Herald Tribune

Grades
6 to 12
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Here's an elegant hurricane tracking resource that provides both current hurricane data and historical tracks, complete with damage totals. The site also shows current weather alerts...more
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Here's an elegant hurricane tracking resource that provides both current hurricane data and historical tracks, complete with damage totals. The site also shows current weather alerts and other storm-planning information.

tag(s): weather (197)

In the Classroom

This is a marvelous hurricane teaching tool. It's unclear, however, whether the site will be a reliable resource for real-time disaster response.
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The Basics of Fusion - Princeton

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6 to 12
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In May, 2006, an unusual international consortium signed a treaty that could lead to the eventual construction of the world's first commercial fusion reactor. With it would come the...more
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In May, 2006, an unusual international consortium signed a treaty that could lead to the eventual construction of the world's first commercial fusion reactor. With it would come the key to almost limitless energy. This backgrounder from a similar European consortium provides a much more basic introduction to how fusion works and why it presents such a challenge.

tag(s): energy (204), nuclear energy (25)

In the Classroom

In addition to its obvious applications in physics, this issue could have widespread economic and environmental implications. There are lots of "What if..." questions you could develop around this one.

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Losing Louisiana

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7 to 12
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Examine the current situation in Louisiana - a region still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina - through the lens of this compelling site. Visitors...more
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Examine the current situation in Louisiana - a region still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina - through the lens of this compelling site. Visitors are greeted with a beautifully designed introduction that leads to an interactive aerial view of the affected area. Click on a number of locations to explore photographs and audio segments featuring interviews with coastal restoration experts as well as residents who were directly affected by the hurricane.

tag(s): hurricanes (40), louisiana (11), wetlands (11)

In the Classroom

Everyone has heard about the catastrophic damage that occurred in New Orleans, yet these images show the full extent of the damage - even months after the event. This site provides some great 360 degrees visual imagery of the damage, as well as provides information about the levees and the flooding history/subsidence in new Orleans. There is also a great landloss map that shows the loss Louisiana has faced, dating back to 1932. This would be a great learning center or classroom activity in a cultural geography, US history or US government class. Have students research and explore the site, and use it as a starting point for a class discussion to the events, the impact, and ultimately the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This could also be a great way to lead into a lesson about government aid and interventions in times of crises!
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You Think! - World Bank

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6 to 8
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Delve into global issues with this outstanding site that explores topics like education, conflict, nutrition, the environment, and more, within the context of what matters to kids....more
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Delve into global issues with this outstanding site that explores topics like education, conflict, nutrition, the environment, and more, within the context of what matters to kids. Students can read factual summaries of the problems then investigate the related photographs, videos, galleries, and games. Click on the "Issues" link to view all available topics. Includes downloadable materials for teachers.

tag(s): air (146)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free ideas and classroom guides provided in the "4teachers" section. This would be a useful accompaniment to a government or Geography class.
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Limerick Savant

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10 to 12
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This is much more than a mere collection of contemporary limericks. It is rather a witty and provocative poetic commentary on politics, government, and economics. Original creations...more
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This is much more than a mere collection of contemporary limericks. It is rather a witty and provocative poetic commentary on politics, government, and economics. Original creations - inspired by what is in the news - are posted each day, and previous contributions can be perused by scrolling. It's acerbic ("Mr. Bush, we have heard you would banish our national anthem in Spanish...") and not for the easily offended, but it does provide a creative way to begin a class discussion on a hot topic. This is a personal blog site, so preview carefully before sharing with students.

tag(s): humor (15), poetry (221), satire (5)

In the Classroom

Challenge students to combine their creative writing skills with knowledge of poetic forms to fashion their own limericks using headline news as a prompt.

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Decisions, Decisions - New York Times

Grades
8 to 12
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Explore the many factors involved in the recent sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui. This lesson plan asks students to examine statements made by families of 9/11 victims, read and discuss...more
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Explore the many factors involved in the recent sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui. This lesson plan asks students to examine statements made by families of 9/11 victims, read and discuss an article about the suspected terrorist, and explore the mitigating factors that contributed to the jurors' final decision. Finally, students must prepare mock statements that might have been made by defense or prosecuting attorneys during the sentencing hearing. Aligned to standards.

In the Classroom

Though a little out of date for a current events class, this would be a great lesson for use in a US government class or US history. Be sure to save the site as a favorite for easy retrieval later on! For differentiation, peruse the article before-hand, creating a list of words that students may have trouble with or may not be familiar with. Create a follow-along for the article, defining those words selected to help students as they read. This will allow lower achieving readers to be able to process the information more efficiently and with more comprehension.

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Science Update Podcasts - American Association for the Advancement of Science

Grades
6 to 12
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Head to this site to subscribe to a free, weekly podcast on interesting news and developments in all areas of science. These weekly audio files run 3-5 minutes each. While ...more
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Head to this site to subscribe to a free, weekly podcast on interesting news and developments in all areas of science. These weekly audio files run 3-5 minutes each. While not designed specifically for instructional use, they provide current science news in an easily accessible format.

tag(s): news (262)

In the Classroom

Try this one for your own professional development, or play it in science class as students are getting settled in for their class period.

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American Immigration Past and Present

Grades
10 to 12
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As the national debate on immigration reform and border security continues, use this lesson to get your students thinking about this highly-charged issue. As they examine primary documents,...more
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As the national debate on immigration reform and border security continues, use this lesson to get your students thinking about this highly-charged issue. As they examine primary documents, participate in organized debates, analyze a variety of media, and practice editorial writing, students will gain an understanding of the historical, economic, and political facets of this controversial topic. Aligned to Standards.

tag(s): immigration (59), migration (59)

In the Classroom

This is a fairly demanding lesson requiring high student reading levels and strong analytical thinking skills. Consider incorporating this into your AP social studies curriculum.

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Grading on a Curve - New York Times

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

tag(s): foreign policy (16), presidents (130)

In the Classroom

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

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