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2010 Census - US Census Bureau

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6 to 12
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Every ten years, the United States participates in a census; the census represents both a raw count of the country's population, but also how that population is distributed demographically....more
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Every ten years, the United States participates in a census; the census represents both a raw count of the country's population, but also how that population is distributed demographically. The US Census Bureau has begun unrolling the data collected during this most recent census. This site will continue to update, so check back often for more. The ability of the Internet and computer data to be distributed widely has changed significantly since the 2000 census, and this site reflects increased transparency and ease of access to this vital information.

tag(s): census (19), demographics (19), population (62)

In the Classroom

First, it's important for students to know that the US Constitution requires a census, and second, that the information gathered is used in a variety of important ways that affect them directly. The first data posted looks at how shifts in population density will change the way various geographic areas of the country are represented in the US government. Consider reading the Director's blog for further analysis of how census data is being used on a local, state, and national level. Of course, the data are perfect for using in math and civics classes for teaching graph reading and creation, and for providing real-life information to use in statistical analysis. A civics or sociology class might download a copy of the census form and consider what the questions tell us about how families live in the 21st century. What questions might students add to a future census form that would reflect how things are changing for their generation?
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State of the Union Address 2011 - guardian.co.uk

Grades
6 to 12
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See a comparison of State of the Union Address language from President Obama, 2011, to past presidents and speeches. These word clouds offer a visual comparison of the most frequent...more
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See a comparison of State of the Union Address language from President Obama, 2011, to past presidents and speeches. These word clouds offer a visual comparison of the most frequent words in different presidential speeches. You can make your own clouds of speech text using Wordle, reviewed here and similar word cloud tools to add to the comparison options.

tag(s): presidents (132), speech (94), speeches (18)

In the Classroom

Share these word clouds on interactive whiteboard or projector to analyze the presidential agendas in a civics or government class. Have students make their own clouds of text from other speeches using Wordle, reviewed here or similar word cloud tools to add to the comparison options. During political campaigns, share this comparison and invite students to create ones of their own between different candidates. In English/language arts classes, use the word clouds to spark discussion of propaganda techniques, word choice, and effective speech techniques. Share this discussion in debate club, as well, to point out the importance of carefully crafted messages. Have students create and compare clouds of their own speech drafts while studying persuasive writing.

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LFI Spring 2011 Symposium: U.S. and China: What Does the Future Hold? - Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government

Grades
7 to 12
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Today's students and citizens need to know about China. The spring, 2011 installment of the semi-annual Lou Frey Institute Symposia features topics related to China, the U.S., and issues...more
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Today's students and citizens need to know about China. The spring, 2011 installment of the semi-annual Lou Frey Institute Symposia features topics related to China, the U.S., and issues such as cultural understanding, security, working together, and (keynote) "Reasons and Prospects for a Chinese-American Partnership." The sessions were streamed as live video over the web on April 4, 2011, from the University of Central Florida, but can also be viewed in these archived videos. Speakers include "members of the diplomatic corps, policy experts and noted commentators." See officials from the two governments in action as they address hot topics of 2011 and the future for today's students.

tag(s): china (68), chinese (50), cross cultural understanding (120)

In the Classroom

Combine selections from these sessions with TeachersFirst's China and Cross-Cultural Resources and our editor's blog posts from a recent China visit to help students explore the issues and subtleties of U.S.-Chinese relations and globalization. Focus on cross-cultural understanding in a Chinese language or world cultures class or on policy issues in U.S. government. Economics classes can view portions related to macro-economics topics. Challenge student groups to create presentations using Thinglink, reviewed here, focused on one aspect of China or Chinese American relations.

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Polldaddy - Automattic

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K to 12
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Use Polldaddy to create polls or surveys to place on a blog, wiki, or site. Sign up to register (email address is required.) Choose your template and style. Change various ...more
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Use Polldaddy to create polls or surveys to place on a blog, wiki, or site. Sign up to register (email address is required.) Choose your template and style. Change various features such as progress bar, restrictions, and notifications. Choose from Free Text, Multiple Choice, or a Matrix. Enter your question and choices. Upload media if desired. Click Finish and Embed when done with the survey. Use the embed codes and links for either creating a pop up page, or embedding directly into a page on a blog, wiki, or site. View reports of the results, locations, and participants of the survey.

tag(s): quiz (88), quizzes (100)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to determine the question and possible responses to generate the poll online. Remember to Publish your quiz to be able to share it.

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. Students using this tool, need an email to register.

Use polls created using Polldaddy on a projector or interactive whiteboard to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge as you start a new unit, 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. Have student groups alternate to create a new poll for the next day. Place a poll on your teacher web page as a homework inspiration or to ask questions to increase parent involvement. Older students may want to include polls on their student blogs to increase read involvement or create polls to use at the start of project presentations. Use polls to generate data for math class (graphing), during elections or for critical thinking activities dealing with interpretation of statistics. Use "real" data to engage students on issues that matter to them.

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Gettysburg Address on Vimeo - Adam Gault

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6 to 12
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Our students are accustomed to having both audio and video content to the information they access. Consequently, just reading something like the Gettysburg Address can seem dry and...more
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Our students are accustomed to having both audio and video content to the information they access. Consequently, just reading something like the Gettysburg Address can seem dry and sterile to them. This video provides both a rich reading of Lincoln's famous speech, but an accompanying video track to illustrate it.

tag(s): civil war (145), gettysburg (26), gettysburg address (18), lincoln (86), presidents (132)

In the Classroom

For those who are not strong readers, the audio-video combination provided here may make the concepts in the Gettysburg Address more accessible. For other students, there may be deeper, more complex questions sparked by the video. Did the creator of the video capture the concepts authored by Abraham Lincoln adequately? This video could be the "jumping off place" for a variety of questions the class might consider or project ideas for individual students. How might you do it differently? What about other well-known speeches or documents? How would you illustrate them for a similar video? Challenge students to create their own video accompanying a famous speech and share the video using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
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Google US Government Search - Google

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6 to 12
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Google has added another tool to its formidable tool box: a US Government search engine. Use to search exclusively within US Government sites. ...more
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Google has added another tool to its formidable tool box: a US Government search engine. Use to search exclusively within US Government sites.

tag(s): search engines (64)

In the Classroom

Add a link to Google's UncleSam search engine to your classroom bookmarks as a tool for students to search for information exclusively from US federal government-maintained sites. Using this kind of search may be useful when searching for official information about a government agency, about pieces of legislation, US politicians, or about federal policy or practice. While no information is completely without bias, students will know that searches through UncleSam will return information that is not posted by groups trying to influence public policy or present a specific point of view.

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Spicynodes - IDEA

Grades
6 to 12
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Create a website map or mindmap easily with this free site. Create a login (requires an email address.) Add interest to your site as visitors choose a node and new ...more
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Create a website map or mindmap easily with this free site. Create a login (requires an email address.) Add interest to your site as visitors choose a node and new options open up for them. Spicynodes is a mindmap but all portions are not displayed until they are clicked on, activating greater interactivity to your sitemap or mindmap.

tag(s): graphic organizers (42), mind map (24)

In the Classroom

Create a new map by entering the details such as a title. Choose from the template styles given. Preview the template, zoom in and out, and scroll around the mindmap using the simple tools. Click the "Edit Content" tab to change each node in your mindmap. Edit the name of the node, the description, and upload or link to a picture. Nodes can also link to a You tube video. When done, click preview to not only see the finished mindmap, but to publish on the Spicynodes site or copy the embed code for placing on a wiki, blog, or other site.

There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the activity on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own graphic organizers. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use this site to create family trees. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Create a site map that guides users throughout the features of your class website.

Collaborative Projects: Have small groups research together a topic such as unsolved mysteries of the world, planets, legends from their countries, plants, famous mathematicians, or any topic that can be broken down into parts. Each student would have their own node and color and would then upload pictures, videos, links, and other information they have found about their part of the topic. If the whole class is researching a topic, students with the "like" assignments could get together to share information and create their part of the small group node (also know as jigsaw in cooperative learning). Once all the nodes are completed, the original small group would share information with each other. There are a variety of ways students could use this mindmap. You could just leave it at the small group share out. Or, you could have the groups decide what information is important enough to present to the class and put their ideas on a Writeboard document reviewed here. A third step could be that once they've honed down the information, they could create a presentation for the class in a variety of formats: Haiku Deck reviewed here, or Animoto reviewed here are only two of the many presentation formats we have reviewed on TeachersFirst.

Student project ideas: Have students... organize any concepts you study; color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, question; map out a story, plotline, or LIFETIME; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle); map a real historical event as a choose-your-own-adventure with alternate endings(?) based on pivotal points; plan a "tour" for a "thought museum."

Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature or social studies: have students demonstrate their understanding by completing a graphic organizer about the main points. Be sure that they RENAME it before they start work to an individual name so you know who did it (they could EMAIL it to you!) or have them print their results to turn them in.

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SlideBoom - iSpring Solutions Inc.

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7 to 12
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The simplicity of this online slide presentation tool can be used by anyone! SlideBoom is an online presentation share and store site. The site is somewhat "vanilla" in that there ...more
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The simplicity of this online slide presentation tool can be used by anyone! SlideBoom is an online presentation share and store site. The site is somewhat "vanilla" in that there are not a lot of extras or flash, however in some situations it may be very handy. Access other people's slide presentations and share your own with the world. This is the free version, so its capabilities are limited. But it would be great for kids to use to move presentations back and forth between school and home if Google applications are blocked.

tag(s): images (274), photography (161), slides (64)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to locate files on their computers to upload. Beyond that, a few clicks that follow onscreen instructions will complete the job!

Use this site as transportation to and from school when students are working on powerpoint presentations for class. This tool could be used in any subject or topic area. If Powerpoint isn't available at your school, use this site to create presentations instead of traditional book reports. Use this tool in social studies to have students create presentations about the branches of government, continents, or economics. The possibilities are endless.

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PolitiFact: Sorting out the truth in politics - St. Petersburg Times

Grades
6 to 12
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Politicians are legendary for their ability to "spin" or manipulate the facts in their own favor. This site seeks to cut through the jargon and the partisan spin to evaluate ...more
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Politicians are legendary for their ability to "spin" or manipulate the facts in their own favor. This site seeks to cut through the jargon and the partisan spin to evaluate statements made by politicians, using their "Truth-o-Meter." Although the interface is light-hearted (using a scale that runs from True, Barely True, False, and "Pants on Fire"), the facts are well researched and presented.

tag(s): advertising (35), elections (78), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This site is a great resource for students researching politicians and their viewpoints. If you're sponsoring a class debate, keep the site handy for each side to check the assertions of their opponents. When students have questions about the content of political advertising, for example, refer them here to find out more. As an assignment, consider having the class pick a political ad, and using the information on this site, write about how the creator of the ad selected the facts that would best portray the viewpoint of the candidate. They could share their critique on a class wiki or on a classroom bulletin board. Have groups create a "mythbuster" political poster on ThingLink, reviewed here.

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Congress.org - C-Q Roll Call, Inc

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9 to 12
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Congress.org is a product of the larger group of news publications that include Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, both long-time sources of news about Washington politics. The...more
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Congress.org is a product of the larger group of news publications that include Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, both long-time sources of news about Washington politics. The site collects news stories, letters to congress and statements from political advocacy groups in one place for the reader to survey. The site is as non-partisan as possible, and it's possible you will find links to statements from the National Rifle Association next to those from the the Society of Friends. There is also a running accounting of recent votes in Congress for those trying to keep up with current legislation. Be aware, however, that one portion of the site includes letters to Members of Congress written by subscribers; previewing in advance is advised.

tag(s): congress (34), elections (78), house of representatives (9), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Consider placing this site on your class web page for students to use in researching political viewpoints, both in relation to upcoming elections and in ongoing political debate. It's a site for true politics junkies, but will be useful for those who are looking for concise information collected in a readable, easy-to-access format. Use the site during your study of the legislative branch and have groups follow congressional groups of individuals, creating a timeline of their activities using a tool such as History in Motion,

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The Supreme Court: Games - PBS

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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 (122), constitution (87), supreme court (24)

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 using Powtoon, reviewed here, and it 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 (78)

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 Web Poster Maker, 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

Grades
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 (88)

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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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 (55)

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

Grades
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 (34), 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 (265), newspapers (97)

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 (74), literature (274), 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).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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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 (122), martin luther king (38)

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.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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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 (218)

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 interactive infographic on the impact of a government program using a tool such as Canva, reviewed here, or stage a debate on the pros and cons of eliminating the space program altogether using ProConIt, reviewed here.

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