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The Supreme Court: Games - PBS

Grades
9 to 12
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As a supplement to their series on The Supreme Court, PBS has prepared nine interactive modules on various aspects of the high court. Although they are called "games" most are ...more
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As a supplement to their series on The Supreme Court, PBS has prepared nine interactive modules on various aspects of the high court. Although they are called "games" most are simply interactive lessons on topics including a quiz on the constitution, information on the symbols used by the court to illustrate its importance to the US system of government, civil rights rulings, specific justices of note, and landmark cases. For reasons not immediately apparent, one of the interactives requires registration with an email address and password. Rather than using your personal or work email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. 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. There are also links to educator resources and lesson plans.

tag(s): civil rights (117), constitution (79), supreme court (22)

In the Classroom

These lessons would be useful on an interactive whiteboard or projector along with a unit on the Supreme Court or the US judicial system. Students might also use them to to extend or enrich the topic on their own time, or when they have completed other classwork. They are well researched and informative, however, most students won't view them as "games" as they are labeled. Have cooperative learning groups investigate one specific topic and share their discoveries with the class. Challenge students to create a video and share using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
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Project Vote Smart - Project Vote Smart

Grades
9 to 12
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Students often are confused about how to choose a candidate to support in an upcoming election. Perhaps they haven't read enough about the candidates and are overly influenced by campaign...more
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Students often are confused about how to choose a candidate to support in an upcoming election. Perhaps they haven't read enough about the candidates and are overly influenced by campaign advertising, or they are just repeating what they have heard at home. This site can help them hone in on a candidate whose views are similar to their own. Enter your zip code, and you have data on each candidate running in your area across 12 different issues. Choose either an issue to explore, or complete a questionnaire to see which candidate's views match your own.

tag(s): elections (75)

In the Classroom

Use this site as the basis of a homework or group assignment: students can write about the candidate they would support in an upcoming election referencing the information found on the site about each candidate's views on specific issues. Take it further and have them create a print ad for their candidate or an online "poster" using GlogsterEDU, reviewed here. Alternatively, the site could be used on an interactive whiteboard as a springboard for a class-wide discussion. Be aware that the site uses a "grassroots" theme, and has a barely audible--and at times annoying--sound track of chirping birds. Turn down the sound if it bothers you.
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Testmoz - testmoz.com

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K to 12
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Use this very simple site to create a test that's accessible on the Internet. Create an automatically graded test easily and for free! Registration is not required to use or ...more
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Use this very simple site to create a test that's accessible on the Internet. Create an automatically graded test easily and for free! Registration is not required to use or to take the created tests. Simply click "Create a test," enter the test name, and create a password. Note: Be sure to remember the password somewhere because it is not possible to recover it. Read the directions on the Test Control Panel to adjust settings, add questions, and publish the test. Bookmark the URL of the finished test you make so you can find it later. After publishing, copy and paste the URL of the test into a wiki, blog, or site, for student access. View reports when students are done with the test.

tag(s): quiz (85)

In the Classroom

Skills required: Be sure to remember the password for your tests, as well as the unique URL. It would be wise to copy/paste them into a document you keep somewhere for reference. Users are unable to access the tests without the URL. Be sure to not share this ahead of time. Items in Testmoz are not made public.

Use where automatically graded tests are required, such as for formative assessments to check student understanding. Use as a "ticket out the door" to see what students know at the end of class. Be sure that this is the medium you want to use for testing. Be flexible with students who find it difficult to take online testing. Entering all the material ahead of time can be time consuming, so this may not be the best format for long tests. Use this quiz application to create study quizzes for review for students to complete as homework (or during class time). Have students rotate to create daily check quizzes for their peers (earning a grade for test-creation). Learning support students and others who need a little extra review might like to make quizzes to challenge each other or themselves. Have students who are preparing to give oral presentations in any subject prepare a short Testmoz for their peers to take at the end.

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Recovery.gov - US Government

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9 to 12
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Much has been made about the federal government's commitment to make the fruits of the economic Recovery Act transparent; this site represents that transparency. This site has lots...more
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Much has been made about the federal government's commitment to make the fruits of the economic Recovery Act transparent; this site represents that transparency. This site has lots of boxes and charts. There is a wealth of data here, however, and that may be its greatest strength. Where has the money gone? Track it geographically, track it by category, track as tax relief, track it as job creation, track it by source, track it by grant versus loan versus contract.

tag(s): data (148)

In the Classroom

While students themselves may not be searching for jobs funded by the Recovery Act, the site can answer questions about local uses of Recovery Act money. Use this site as a rich source of real data that can be used to teach about reading charts and graphs, analyzing information and making inferences from that information, and as a prime example of the responsibilities of citizens to see where their tax dollars are going. Groups of students might tackle a particular slant on the Recovery Act and report their findings. Follow up with a class-generated letter to a local legislator about their findings as a writing intensive addition to a largely numbers driven lesson. Or have your students create interactive online posters ("glogs") using Glogster EDU, reviewed here to share with the class.
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Talking History - Talking History

Grades
6 to 12
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This site represents the archives of a regular radio program and podcast that uses recordings--either archival material as primary resources, or recordings of experts discussing a topic--to...more
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This site represents the archives of a regular radio program and podcast that uses recordings--either archival material as primary resources, or recordings of experts discussing a topic--to highlight a historical issue. The topics are fairly narrow and all over the map: Jane Addams on the Evils of Prostitution (1912), Racial Cleansing in America (2007), James Keir Hardie on Women's Suffrage in Britain (1905), ules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and many more!

tag(s): listening (91), oral history (12), podcasts (52)

In the Classroom

Students are "listening" to something all the time; usually is plugged into their ears through earbuds. But as skilled as they are at multitasking, can they listen to a first person account of an important historical event? Can they listen to a scholarly lecture? Might they prefer to listen to a book rather than read it? This site might help you and your students explore these issues. It's not so much about the individual topics on this site; it's about teaching students new ways to access information effectively. For those students who are not strong readers this site may be a way of recognizing their learning style as equally important.

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Budget Simulator - Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

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8 to 12
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So often we hear impassioned cries for causes that deserve more governmental funding. At the same time, we know that the government already spends more money than it has. A ...more
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So often we hear impassioned cries for causes that deserve more governmental funding. At the same time, we know that the government already spends more money than it has. A balanced federal budget seems little more than a fantasy. Do students think they can do better? This simulation exercise (it's too important a topic to refer to as a game), guides students through the difficult choices our governments needs to make if it is to balance the federal government. Cut the military? Cut healthcare spending? Cut services for the needy? Once you've made the choices, the simulator will deliver the outcome: were you able to balance the budget by cutting over $1.3 billion in spending?

tag(s): politics (99)

In the Classroom

This would make a wonderful class team competition. Consider dividing the class into groups, or even pitting different sections of the same course against each other. Encourage the students not to breeze through the choices too quickly. The site might be useful for mature younger students if they have the attention span required to make careful and reasoned choices. Another option is to complete this activity as a class on an interactive whiteboard or projector.

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Open Congress - Participatory Politics Foundation

Grades
8 to 12
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While there are whole television networks calling themselves the best political insiders, you still hear what THEY think is important. This site lets you explore the legislative process...more
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While there are whole television networks calling themselves the best political insiders, you still hear what THEY think is important. This site lets you explore the legislative process on your own. Start with the ticker tape style accounting of what's happening in Congress today. Read the blog from the site's administrator. You can focus on a particular state, a particular legislator, or a bill topic. If there is a bill topic you are interested in, click on "The Money Trail" and see which congress person has received the most donations from interested lobbying group. Finally, click on "The Battle Royale" and get a temperature reading on which topics are generating the most interest both IN Congress and within the community following things on the site. There is a LOT of information here, and it's presented in an intuitive and easy to access way.

You should be aware, however, that the site includes a wiki. It allows you to create an account to organize the information you're following, and encourages you to "vote" on bills. Check your school's policies for having students participate in this kind of activity, or create a class account and use that function as a group activity.

tag(s): congress (33), house of representatives (9), politics (99), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site in your favorites for students as a place to do their own research on all things Congressional. Groups of students in a current events, government, or modern history class could research a bill, a legislator, or the process of passing legislation itself. This site will take them way past "I'm Just A Bill..." from Schoolhouse Rock. Have cooperative learning groups research a topic and create a multimedia presentation such as a podcast using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).

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Guzzle - Lemonchick

Grades
8 to 12
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This news aggregator allows you to select whatever news topics you would like to see displayed. You can choose either to see just the headlines or the headline and its ...more
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This news aggregator allows you to select whatever news topics you would like to see displayed. You can choose either to see just the headlines or the headline and its news source before you read. After customizing the pages, you can click to see a page showing just the items you would like to read. When you mouse over the headline, you can see the first sentence or so of the selected news item before clicking to get it in entirety. Clicking on the headline sends you directly to the original source newspaper. Once linked to the original newspaper, you have the option to search other articles at that source as well.

tag(s): news (261), newspapers (94)

In the Classroom

This site is excellent for enrichment, research, or a current events class. Include it on your class web page for students to access both in and out of class. Have students try out this site on individual computers, or as a learning center. This site is ideal for an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have the students open the site and use the whiteboard tools to set up a class selected news offering for each day.

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Timelines: Sources from History - British Library

Grades
4 to 12
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This site, created in the United Kingdom, offers many timelines with a simple click to launch an amazing 3-dimensional page. Timelines are organized by subject matter and include samplings...more
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This site, created in the United Kingdom, offers many timelines with a simple click to launch an amazing 3-dimensional page. Timelines are organized by subject matter and include samplings from literature, sociology, history, everyday life, science, technology, explorers, medicine, and more. With another click, you can zoom from one century to another. Start in the 1210s and work your way through the years. View the context of history using visual artifacts from DaVinci's contemporaries to shopping in the 1890s. Connect historical events or technological accomplishments by seeing them alongside simultaneous events, precursors, or results. An additional option allows you to save favorite timelines and/or events.

tag(s): europe (75), literature (275), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This site is excellent for research projects or to provide visual context to your curriculum in social studies, world cultures, world history, literature, art, or western heritage classes. Offer this set of timelines as a research source for history, social studies, and literature classes. Show students these timelines on an interactive whiteboard. Or have students research various topics on their own using this fabulous tool. Pique their interest by letting them browse to find out what else happened at the same time as events in the standard history curriculum -- then ask WHY. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create online posters displaying their findings using an online poster creator, such as Padlet (reviewed here).
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Finishing the Dream - NBC Learn

Grades
5 to 12
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This site offers a collection of videos on the Civil Rights Movement. Topics range from Brown Vs. Board of Education to the assassination of Martin Luther King. The time span ...more
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This site offers a collection of videos on the Civil Rights Movement. Topics range from Brown Vs. Board of Education to the assassination of Martin Luther King. The time span is from the 1950s to the present, the most current being a special produced by NBC asking about "finishing the dream." Each of the ten topic areas links to many news clips that focus on the particular topic of that civil rights problem. Each clip can be "flipped" to see more information about its source, description etc. Finishing the Dream is a free area of the broader NBC Learn video site that is subscription-based. There is even an embeddable widget to make the collection available on other web sites or blogs.

tag(s): civil rights (117), martin luther king (37)

In the Classroom

Include this site when your students are going to do a research project on civil rights or MLK. Use one of the videos from the site to introduce a civil rights unit. Have cooperative learning groups explore one of the videos/topics together and create multimedia presentations to share with the class. Challenge groups to narrate a picture using a tool such as ThingLink, reviewed here. Compare videos from this site to examine the question of how King's vision is being implemented today. If you know how, embed the widget for the entire collection on your class web page for students to access in and out of school during your civil rights unit or in January near Martin Luther King Day.
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Fall 2010 Symposium: The Space Program and Beyond - Lou Frey Institute

Grades
9 to 12
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Watch a live webcast of a symposium on the future of the U.S. Space Program with keynote speaker U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, held on September 27, 2010. These archived webcasts ...more
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Watch a live webcast of a symposium on the future of the U.S. Space Program with keynote speaker U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, held on September 27, 2010. These archived webcasts include topics such as the role of high technology industries, the future of the space program in Florida and across the globe, and student Q/A periods. Although the focus of the symposium is on Florida, many of the topics extend nationally and internationally. The videos do not include a program guide, unfortunately.

tag(s): space (205)

In the Classroom

Share portions of this program in your government/civics classes as an example of the congressional funding/policy process and its impact on economics, scientific development, and more. Assign student groups to trace a single aspect of the space program and its impact on state/local economics, employment, science, and more. Have students create an visual presentation on the impact of a government program using a tool such as GlogsterEDU, reviewed here or stage a debate on the pros and cons of eliminating the space program altogether.

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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 (23)

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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Ask Philosophers - Ask Philosophers

Grades
9 to 12
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. ...more
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. It's so tempting to say to the student, "We don't have time for that right now..." This site is about those big questions, and it's really very simple. Ordinary people send questions to a panel of philosophers, and the philosophers answer the questions. There are over 3000 questions answered on the site, all indexed by topic or keyword, and be aware that one of the topics is "sex." It's not pornographic, but the questions are direct.

In the Classroom

If you're looking for meaty writing prompts, this site is full of interesting and open-ended questions. The questions might also serve as a good data base for a class learning debate. It may also be helpful for students to see that philosophers use formal rules of thinking in answering their questions; they don't just say what they "feel" is right. Understanding that moral and ethical decision making is based on a set of predetermined principles is a concept that many students struggle with. This site would be useful for teaching ethical decision making with students whose thinking has progressed to the point where they are able to think more abstractly and philosophically: a gifted class perhaps? Have a class wiki dedicated to philosophy and profound questions. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.

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IndebtEd: We're Broke Let's Fix It - MTV Networks On Campus Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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This site has been created to help students become more aware of personal and governmental debt. Through interactives, videos, and articles this site will bring a greater understanding...more
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This site has been created to help students become more aware of personal and governmental debt. Through interactives, videos, and articles this site will bring a greater understanding of how debt effects individuals and the country. Videos by current stars will make this site an interesting one for students.

tag(s): money (193)

In the Classroom

Though this site is geared toward college students, it would be a great addition to any economics, math, or social studies class. Use the national debt clock to see how quickly we are accumulating debt and how much every individual is responsible for. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector and share the informational videos for the class to see. Have students journal a response to the videos. In groups have students read the government and people section and using a web 2.0 tool like Voki reviewed here have students choose a presidential figure to tell how they will solve the nation's debt problem. Place the link to the site on your class webpage so students can take the debt quiz or play the debt ski activity.
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Learn About Congress - Indiana University

Grades
6 to 12
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The Indiana University Center on Congress has prepared a series of learning modules to teach students about the role, history, and responsibilities of the US Congress. Access each of...more
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The Indiana University Center on Congress has prepared a series of learning modules to teach students about the role, history, and responsibilities of the US Congress. Access each of the modules separately, or consider the summary module that incorporates the other, more in-depth modules. Each module functions as a popup, so be sure you have your popup blocker turner off.

tag(s): branches of government (48), congress (33)

In the Classroom

Use these mini lessons on an interactive whiteboard or projector as an introduction to the roles and responsibility of Congress in a history, civics, government or current events class. This could also be part of in-depth looks at all three branches of government. As an alternative, students can work independently or in small groups on these modules, and then report back to the class as a whole on what they've learned. Have groups create podcasts about Congress using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
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Futurestates - Independent Television Service

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9 to 12
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing ...more
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing students for their lives as adults. This series of short films presents some of the most compelling "what ifs" about the future: What would happen if only the very wealthy could afford housing? What impact will immigration have? Will virtual reality become indistinguishable from true reality? While these short films (and the questions and discussions they might generate) may not fit neatly into any particular curriculum, they offer great value in helping young adults struggle with the possibilities of their future.

tag(s): computers (95), debate (41), environment (317), ethics (16), immigration (58), migration (59)

In the Classroom

These films would work well for a more unstructured gifted/talented seminar style class, a current issues class, or a Real Life 101-type class. Some may also be appropriate within an economics, biology, or environmental science curriculum. A civics class might debate the proper governmental role in resolving some of the dilemmas presented. Challenge students to create podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here), describing other possible future "what ifs."
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Poll everywhere - Poll everywhere

Grades
6 to 12
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Create polls that can be answered online or through the use of text messaging. Voters submit answers by sending SMS messages to a short number. Poll everywhere tallies the responses...more
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Create polls that can be answered online or through the use of text messaging. Voters submit answers by sending SMS messages to a short number. Poll everywhere tallies the responses which can then be accessed and viewed. Use the free plan for no more than 30 votes. Create a powerpoint or keynote slide of the poll results and create charts that can be embedded into a web page. Simple and easy to use!

tag(s): quiz (85), quizzes (97)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to determine the question and possible responses to generate the poll online. Practice creating your first poll even before creating a login. Enter the suggested question and possible responses to see how the codes are generated and displayed. Respondents text the code word to a specific number displayed on the screen. Be sure to check out the easy to use controls along the side of the screen.

Ask a question. Voters choose from the responses and use the SMS code with their mobile phone to send their vote. Cast a vote also using Twitter or on the Internet. Click the gear icon next to the poll to change the size and color of various aspects of the poll. Use the panel along the side to view either a static or live chart, summary table, or response history. Be sure to click on the tab "Ways People Can Respond" to check not only SMS but other methods as well: Web Voting, Twitter, and Smartphone. Twitter uses @poll followed by a keyword to tabulate responses. Use the "Download as Slide" tab to choose the type of slide you would like to create. "Share and Publish" using Posterous, Twitter, or Blog/web page.

This tool does not show the individual votes of students. Though this tool can be used by students, it may be best used by a teacher.

Use this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge as you start your study by asking questions about the material. Discuss in groups why those in class would choose a particular answer to uncover misconceptions. Use for Daily quiz questions to gain knowledge of student understanding and a means of formative assessment.

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Thought Audio - thoughtaudio.com

Grades
K to 12
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This free audio book site offers classical literature and philosophy books in the public domain for download at no charge. In addition to typical classics, it offers recordings of the...more
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This free audio book site offers classical literature and philosophy books in the public domain for download at no charge. In addition to typical classics, it offers recordings of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, some Mark Twain, and a few Christmas recordings for children including "Twas the Night Before Christmas," "The Gift of the Magi," and "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol."

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers as a reference. Suggest it to students as something they can use on their mp3 players. Share this link on your class website for students and parents to access at home. Learning support teachers may want to use selections from this site as alternatives to reading print literature selections. Play a story on your computer speakers as a listening activity in younger grades.

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Argument Wars - iCivics Inc.

Grades
5 to 10
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This site offers a creative way to teach landmark Supreme Court cases. The site provides five historical court cases for students to argue. Each case is a separate interactive. In ...more
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This site offers a creative way to teach landmark Supreme Court cases. The site provides five historical court cases for students to argue. Each case is a separate interactive. In each activity, students play a lawyer who represents one side in the case. Using supporting documents, students must choose the best argument for the side they are representing. Students "win" the game and case if they score more points than their computer generated opponent.

tag(s): constitution (79), game based learning (103)

In the Classroom

This site is great way to review the amendments of the US Constitution. Using an interactive whiteboard or projector, complete one case as a whole group so students can see how the interactive should work. Use the provided handouts so students can take notes as you are working through the case. When it is time for students to work independently, make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Divide students into cooperative learning groups to explore the site. Afterward have a discussion or have students journal using the provided discussion questions. Why not create a "Argument Wars Wiki" to discuss the cases. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. This site does not have a save feature so students have to complete the entire activity to see if they've won. For students that need more of a challenge, assign them Gideon v. Wainwright. Students have to examine two arguments which makes it more challenging.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Do I Have a Right? - iCivics Inc.

Grades
5 to 10
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In this interactive role playing game, students take on the role of a lawyer starting a new business. Students take on cases, hire lawyers and try to grow their business. ...more
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In this interactive role playing game, students take on the role of a lawyer starting a new business. Students take on cases, hire lawyers and try to grow their business. To be successful, they must understand constitutional amendments. Students can earn prestige points by successfully interacting with clients and winning cases. In order to have a thriving law practice, students have to hire lawyers that are familiar with various amendments. Lesson plans and after-activity PowerPoints are provided.

tag(s): constitution (79), game based learning (103)

In the Classroom

This site is great way to review the amendments of the US Constitution. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Divide students into cooperative learning groups to explore the site. Working in groups have a class competition to see who can win the most cases and achieve the most prestige points. Afterward, have a discussion about the process each group used to build their law firm. This site does not have a save feature so the teacher should set a duration for play. Built in help makes this site useful for students who might need some additional guidance. Use the final score printout to assign your students a grade.

To fully involve students in their "law firm," have them create a firm logo and "shingle" using an online graphics tool such as Supalogo, reviewed here. Print the logos for classroom decorations or have students upload them to law firm pages on on your class wiki.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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