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Declaration of Independence - National Archives

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7 to 12
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The National Archives has created an intriguing site that reveals some little known information about this historic document. Discover the number of signers who were born in Europe,...more
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The National Archives has created an intriguing site that reveals some little known information about this historic document. Discover the number of signers who were born in Europe, meet the signer who was a musician, and find out who was the youngest at the time of the signing. A special feature allows you to add your own signature to the document. Also includes a time line detailing the creation of the document.

tag(s): american revolution (88), declaration of independence (13), evolution (102)

In the Classroom

Use the "Meet the founding fathers" section as the basis of character roles for a in-class town hall meeting, recreating the events of the constitutional convention. Assign students different roles, i.e. founding fathers, and have them use the biographies of this site to allow them to research who their role was and what their beliefs were for a debate as to whether or not to sign the Declaration of Independence. If students stick to their assigned perspectives, the town-hall meeting can be a great way to review the important reasons for independence and the various perspectives that existed.
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The Choice 2004 - PBS Frontline

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8 to 12
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Differences between the two presidential candidates are highlighted in this site that examines their lives, experiences, and world views. Dozens of interviews with colleagues, family,...more
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Differences between the two presidential candidates are highlighted in this site that examines their lives, experiences, and world views. Dozens of interviews with colleagues, family, and adversaries are included, along with a chronology of each man's life. Portions of the companion television special can be viewed online.

Although this resource was created for the 2004 Presidential election, the background information, interviews, and links are valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history.

tag(s): elections (76)

In the Classroom

Government teachers teaching about the past few election OR attempting to provide examples of the two party system will appreciate this site. The site has information about Bush & Kerry's political beliefs that can be easily compared to show the differences between the two parties. As a class, compare with a tool such as Venn Diagram on the Interactive Whiteboard or projector. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here).

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What the World Thinks of America - Guardian Unlimited

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9 to 12
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Current Events, U.S. Government, U.S. History - Use this site to generate some heated discussion in your classroom, if you dare, and bring a global view to the 2004 Presidential ...more
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Current Events, U.S. Government, U.S. History - Use this site to generate some heated discussion in your classroom, if you dare, and bring a global view to the 2004 Presidential election. Although this resource was created for the 2004 election, the information is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. Summary articles and survey results from polls conducted throughout the world provide insight into peoples' opinions of the policies, president and people of the United States.

tag(s): foreign policy (16)

In the Classroom

Although the information is a little out of date, this could be useful for discussing the impact of globalization on American Politics. Share the site on the interactive whiteboard or projector, using it to start a discussion as to why this is important. Teachers can also use the information as a writing prompt. Pull up the results of the poll on the interactive whiteboard and have students write a short essay as to whether or not the results surprised them, what this could mean, and how this impacts foreign relations. This would be useful in either a civics or history class.

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FactCheck - Annenberg Public Policy Center

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8 to 12
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This searchable, nonpartisan site analyzes and comments on the claims and statements made by U.S. politicians. TV ads, political debates, interviews, and speeches are carefully examined...more
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This searchable, nonpartisan site analyzes and comments on the claims and statements made by U.S. politicians. TV ads, political debates, interviews, and speeches are carefully examined to uncover distortions, misstatements, and mangled facts. A great resource to incorporate into a lesson on the 2008 election process. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): elections (76), news (262)

In the Classroom

After presidential debates, go to Fact Check to see what was true and what was "stretched." Have students use this site for research about the candidates.
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Perspectives on Terrorism - Terrorism Research Initiative

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10 to 12
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When does a freedom fighter or revolutionary become a terrorist? That's the central question in this presentation that introduces the issues of international law and cooperation that...more
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When does a freedom fighter or revolutionary become a terrorist? That's the central question in this presentation that introduces the issues of international law and cooperation that bear on the global pursuit of terrorists. The site combines multimedia presentations, web content, and extensive external links to help students understand the premises behind international cooperation, and the ways in which terrorism tests the limits of that cooperation.

tag(s): iran (12), iraq (32), terrorism (49), terrorist (16)

In the Classroom

Try this one in an AP government or history class, or as part of a World Cultures unit.
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Political Commercials: Leading or Misleading Voters - PBS News Hour

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9 to 12
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Critical thinking and current events come together in this well-planned lesson that asks students to analyze political commercials and look for logical fallacies. After examining the...more
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Critical thinking and current events come together in this well-planned lesson that asks students to analyze political commercials and look for logical fallacies. After examining the techniques used in the commercials, students use a storyboard template to plan their own commercials for fictitious candidates. As an extension activity, coordinate a video project, and record your students' original political commercials. Downloadable handouts and worksheets are provided. Aligned to National Council for the Social Studies Standards.

tag(s): elections (76), politics (100)

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Vote: The Machinery of Democracy - Smithsonian

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7 to 12
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Voting methods in the United States are examined in this beautifully designed on-line exhibit created by the Museum of American History. The varied practices within individual states...more
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Voting methods in the United States are examined in this beautifully designed on-line exhibit created by the Museum of American History. The varied practices within individual states are explored as well as the historical evolution of our ballots and voting systems. Use this site to help students understand the Florida 2000 crisis, as well as the role technology and innovation have played in shaping our experiences at the polls. Although this resource was created for the 2000 election, the background information is valuable for teaching about elections in general and for comparing elections as part of U.S. history. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): college (46), elections (76), electoral college (16)

In the Classroom

Use the interactive exhibition portion of this site as a learning center or station during a unit on the US election process. (extra bonus if your class is specifically studying the 2000 election!)Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts demonstrating their understanding of one of the concepts. Use a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
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80 Days that Changed the World - CNN

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8 to 12
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Major events in 20th century history are presented in this impressive CNN site. Visitors can select an era, choose an event, and read a brief synopsis. The video gallery offers ...more
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Major events in 20th century history are presented in this impressive CNN site. Visitors can select an era, choose an event, and read a brief synopsis. The video gallery offers a collection of riveting clips, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the Great Crash of 1929, and the fall of Saigon. Follow the link to a Time Magazine site to find special reports on life-changing events that have taken place over the course of the past eight decades. This is an outstanding supplement to a 20th century American history class.

tag(s): stock market (13), vietnam (36)

In the Classroom

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U.S. Electoral College

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8 to 12
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Most students are a bit fuzzy on the role the Electoral College plays in choosing our president every four years. This site answers many questions in an easy to understand ...more
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Most students are a bit fuzzy on the role the Electoral College plays in choosing our president every four years. This site answers many questions in an easy to understand format. The history behind the system is discussed along with the particulars of its function. An overview of the intricacies of the 2000 election is also provided. This is strictly an informational resource - no bells or whistles - so use your creativity to build a lesson around it.

tag(s): elections (76), politics (100)

In the Classroom

While we're aware this is a public domain site with the reputation of being a bit unreliable, the images on this site would be an excellent resource for government teachers teaching about the Electoral College and its history. Use these images in a lecture or PowerPoint slide to help clarify how the electoral college has functioned in the past.

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People Like Us - PBS

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8 to 12
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Are all Americans created equal or are some more equal than others? This site encourages discussion about social classes in America through entertaining games, resources, and personal...more
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Are all Americans created equal or are some more equal than others? This site encourages discussion about social classes in America through entertaining games, resources, and personal stories. The lesson plan, located at the end of the Teacher's Guide is definitely worth exploring, as is the Statistics Page which presents some fascinating facts about wealth and poverty in America .

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Humor's Edge: Cartoons by Ann Telnaes - Library of Congress

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9 to 12
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This site features the Pulitzer Prize-winning talent of Ann Telnaes, a contemporary political cartoonist who accurately depicts the drama and news of the day with clarity and wit. Use...more
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This site features the Pulitzer Prize-winning talent of Ann Telnaes, a contemporary political cartoonist who accurately depicts the drama and news of the day with clarity and wit. Use these online examples from Library of Congress exhibit to introduce current political issues or challenge your students to design their own political cartoons.

In the Classroom

Use the images on this site to discuss the role political cartoons can play in US government. Select a few of Telnaes's images, displaying them over the projector. Have a class discussion about the images, discussing perspectives, effects and what is being portrayed by the cartoons. This is a great way to discover how humor can affect opinions, and dissect how it is done.

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Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America - NY Historical Society

Grades
7 to 12
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He's more than just a pretty face on the $10 bill! Alexander Hamilton's life and influence are examined in this site that presents a timeline of events during and after ...more
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He's more than just a pretty face on the $10 bill! Alexander Hamilton's life and influence are examined in this site that presents a timeline of events during and after his life, highlights from his writings, and a biographical gallery of his peers. Visitors can even test their knowledge of his life and accomplishments with a twenty-question interactive quiz. This is probably more information than your students need to know about Mr. Hamilton, but the site provides a unique approach to understanding some significant events in American history.

tag(s): constitution (82)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a introductory activity for a lesson on the founding fathers. Introduce this site on the interactive whiteboard or projector before allowing students to explore it on their own. We recommend creating a graphic organizer or follow-along for the website to insure students are getting the most out of it. What is great about it is that it provides students with a lot of historical and biographical information about Hamilton. This would be a great resource for a US history or Civics class.

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Core Documents of U.S. Democracy - Government Printing Office

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7 to 12
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Access current and historical U.S. government documents with the click of a mouse. This electronic collection includes the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, Emancipation...more
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Access current and historical U.S. government documents with the click of a mouse. This electronic collection includes the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, as well as Supreme Court decisions, the Budget of the United States Government, and so much more. Selected and authenticated by the Government Printing Office's GPO Access service.

tag(s): american revolution (88)

In the Classroom

Use this as a resource for research projects or papers, particularly those debating a specific court decision or amendment. Useful resource for a US government class!

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Structure of Congress - PBS Newshour

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9 to 12
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This Web-based lesson plan introduces high school students to the structure of Congress and its various functions. Working in small groups, students are asked to research legislative...more
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This Web-based lesson plan introduces high school students to the structure of Congress and its various functions. Working in small groups, students are asked to research legislative terms and responsibilities, and then participate in a simulated press conference in which they will role play members of members of Congress and the media. Focus and discussion questions are provided along with links to online resources. Lesson objective are aligned to national standards.

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

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Hello Dolly: A WebQuest - Keith Nuthall of the Poway Unified School District

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11 to 12
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The impact of cloning on 21st century society is examined in this non-partisan, fact-based WebQuest that encourages research, analysis, and evaluation. Students, working in teams, are...more
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The impact of cloning on 21st century society is examined in this non-partisan, fact-based WebQuest that encourages research, analysis, and evaluation. Students, working in teams, are asked to consider the ethics, politics and science of the cloning process as they establish a government policy to regulate cloning. Teacher resources and website links are provided, along with a timeline and content standards. Because of the controversial nature of this real-life problem-solving challenge, exercise caution when implementing.

tag(s): dna (68), ethics (17), webquests (29)

In the Classroom

Save this site as a favorite, and use the webquest during a discussion of government oversight, and how it has affected areas such as science. (This could also be used in a biology classroom during a lesson on cloning)

Consider alternate product options for today's students, such as using Google Docs during planning and writing phases reviewed here or one of many creative. collaborative web 2.0 tools reviewed in the TeachersFirst Edge. Your students can work collaboratively without even being in the same place, and their projects can be shared easily on the web.

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Powers of Persuasion - National Archives

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8 to 12
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The psychology of wartime patriotism is presented in this thought-provoking site that examines an impressive collection of propaganda posters used by the U. S. Government to promote...more
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The psychology of wartime patriotism is presented in this thought-provoking site that examines an impressive collection of propaganda posters used by the U. S. Government to promote the war effort in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. The on-line exhibit is divided into two thematic groups: posters that were designed to instill patriotism, and those that were created to show the horrors of war. The works of some well-known American artists, including Norman Rockwell, are represented. How did these words and images affect the hearts and minds of America citizens? How does this sanctioned propaganda compare with what the American government is communicating to its citizens during this current time of war? Use this impressive resource to generate discussion in a history or current events class.

tag(s): posters (38), propaganda (12)

In the Classroom

Use these images on this site to create a visual discovery activity. Select 3-5 of the more powerful images and put them on a PowerPoint, with each image showing for 1-2 minutes over the interactive whiteboard. Have students fill out a graphic organizer concerning each image, focusing on what students observe, infer and can predict. (To create the graphic organizer, try using Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here).)After the class has reviewed all of the images, have a class discussion based on their findings. Teachers will be surprised how much content is discussed. This activity works best as a review.

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Debating Our Destiny - MacNeil/Lehrer

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8 to 12
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This site presents the presidential debates of the past through the eyes of those who were there. Video clips of debates from 1976 through 1996 are provided along with ...more
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This site presents the presidential debates of the past through the eyes of those who were there. Video clips of debates from 1976 through 1996 are provided along with reflective commentary from the former presidents on their individual performances. The "Behind the Podium" section offers some revealing information about debate preparation and the differences between debate formats (formal vs. town hall). This would be an excellent resource to explore with your students before this year's presidential debates. Use it to generate discussion and encourage analysis.

tag(s): elections (76), politics (100), presidents (130)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and classroom activities hosted on the "teachers" portion of this site. This would be a great way to connect current events to those of past elections - a useful resource for a US government class.

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Race: The Power of an Illusion - PBS

Grades
9 to 12
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This thoughtful resource examines race-related myths, misconceptions, and assumptions that often create injustice and inequity in our society. Students can independently explore an...more
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This thoughtful resource examines race-related myths, misconceptions, and assumptions that often create injustice and inequity in our society. Students can independently explore an interactive tutorial that investigates the concept of "race" and participate in interactive activities that reveal the dangers and difficulties of arbitrary racial classification. The content provides excellent material for class discussions. One of the outstanding features of the sight is a collection of beautifully constructed "slide shows" that focus on the significant role race plays in all of our lives. Considering combining this resource with a lesson on civil rights or immigration. Lesson plans and background readings are provided. Created by California Newsreel.

tag(s): africa (178), african american (113), segregation (15)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an in-class activity to provide students with the background knowledge of what race is before beginning a unit on civil rights and the racial strife of the 20th century.(and beyond if necessary) Have students create concept maps for the ideas presented in the piece, showing new information to them as well as how it's all connected. Use a tool such as bubbl.us (reviewed here) to create and share the concept maps.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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U.S. Capitol Virtual Tour - U.S. Senate

Grades
6 to 12
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If taking your students to Washington, D.C., just isn't a possibility, this site is the next best thing to being there. The interactive and user friendly multi-media tour provides panoramic...more
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If taking your students to Washington, D.C., just isn't a possibility, this site is the next best thing to being there. The interactive and user friendly multi-media tour provides panoramic views, fascinating historical information, and interesting details about many of the objects encountered along the way. This is an extensive tour, so a teacher-created map with explicit directions is strongly suggested before students embark on the virtual field trip. This one works best with a high speed connection.

tag(s): house of representatives (9), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a learning center or station during a unit on the branches and houses of government. Students will be able to connect the visual images with the content, and also gain more insight from the text. To highlight whats more important from the site, have students complete a follow-along guide of questions. For help creating one, we recommend using Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here).

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Living Room Candidate - American Museum of the Moving Image

Grades
8 to 12
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How does this year's presidential race differ from those of the past? Are there significant similarities or differences? This collection of 183 campaign commercials from 1952 through...more
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How does this year's presidential race differ from those of the past? Are there significant similarities or differences? This collection of 183 campaign commercials from 1952 through 2000 provides a revealing and thought-provoking glimpse of the art of politics over the decades. An analysis of partisan advertising campaigns is included for each election year, along with a map showing election results. Click on "Highlights and Themes" to explore attack ads, the multiple roles expected of a president (family man, commander in chief, "regular guy," and leader), and biographical information. The Desktop Candidate section discusses the impact of the Internet on the voting public. Be sure to check out the link to Educational Materials, which includes a teacher's guide and suggested activities. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): elections (76), politics (100)

In the Classroom

Use the information at this site to compare past campaign commercials with current ads for the 2008 presidential election. Search the Internet for recent commercials (using whatever video websites are permitted at your school). Share a sample of commercials from the 1950s - the present. Have students discuss the similarities and differences. Have students create their own ad commercials about a presidential candidate that they support or a "mock" candidate that they created. To upload the students' commercials, use a tool such as TeacherTube (explained here). Be sure to obtain parental permission before videotaping any students.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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