Lesson Plans/Activities

The pages below are all websites that have created various lesson plans and activities geared toward the social studies. 

Stanford History Education Group--Includes a wealth of resources, activities, and lesson plans. Most of these lesson plans incorporate historical documents. The Reading Like a Historian section includes 71 stand alone lessons on U.S. History and 15 stand-alone lessons for World History. These lessons include the primary documents, as well as worksheet activities. Another section, Beyond the Bubble, includes innovative assessments that gauge historical thinking, interactive rubrics, and annotated student responses to help teachers become better at choosing assessments. I would highly recommend this website!

The Choices Program--Brown University--The Choices Program is non-profit organization based at Brown University. The Choices Program develops curricula on current and historical international issues and offers workshops, institutes, and in-service programs for high school teachers. Course materials place special emphasis on the importance of educating students in their participatory role as citizens. This program also offers various interactive simulations to maximize student engagement

Smithsonian Learning Lab--Discover artifacts from history, create and curate a collection of artifacts and share your collection with your students. Easy to use,

EDSITEment--Run by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this site provides both lesson plans created by teachers for teachers, as well as primary sources and respective worksheets. This is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers.

Teaching with Documents NCSS--Articles from the "Teaching with Documents" series are available free online to NCSS members. Click on the ones you want to view and print. Teaching with Documents articles, published originally in Social Education over the last decade or so, were written by staff at the National Archives and Records Administration. Each article features a primary source document accompanied by teaching activities and lessons that focus on history, civics, and many other social studies disciplines.

Mission US--Mission US is an interactive game that immerses players in U.S. history content through various missions. Current missions include: For Crown or Colony? (Revolutionary War Boston), Mission to Freedom (Underground Railroad), A Cheyenne Odyssey (Life of Native Americans on the Plains), and City of Immigrants (Immigration in NYC).

Social Studies Central--Social Studies Central provides resources with a focus on the Social Studies, supports teachers as they improve their instruction, and helps educators engage kids in learning. You will find lesson plans, new web sites, links to standards and assessment advice, technology integration resources, and information about workshops and staff development.

Teachinghistory.org--Teachinghistory.org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has created Teachinghistory.org with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible.

DocsTeach: Activities--Contains reproducible copies of primary documents from the holdings of the National Archives of the United States, teaching activities correlated to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government, and cross-curricular connections. Teaching with primary documents encourages a varied learning environment for teachers and students alike. Lectures, demonstrations, analysis of documents, independent research, and group work become a gateway for research with historical records in ways that sharpen students' skills and enthusiasm for history, social studies, and the humanities.

History Labs--Run by the University of Maryland--Baltimore County, History Labs are research and investigative learning experiences that provide teachers with the necessary information, resources, and procedures to teach a full range of historical thinking skills by taking students through a process that is methodologically similar to that employed by historians.

Artifact & Analysis--This site presents a strategy for incorporating historical artifacts and documents into the teaching of U.S. history. Designed as a companion to the Advanced Placement Program U.S. History course, it is also effective in any instructional setting that emphasizes analytic thinking and writing.

Zinn Education Project--The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the use of Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States and other materials for teaching a people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The website offers more than 100 free, downloadable lessons and articles organized by theme, time period, and reading level. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.

Teaching American History--Lesson plans created through a collaboration of public school teachers and PhD historians. These unit plans were created by Virginia and Maryland school districts in collaboration with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Teaching American History grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Smithsonian Education--Lesson plans created for all grade levels and subjects. Search the lesson plan database by age, content, or theme.

National Center for History in the Schools: UCLA--The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) has a threefold mission: to develop and provide teachers with curricular materials that will engage students in exciting explorations of U.S. and World History; professional development for K-12 history teachers; and to collaborate with schools in building their history curricula.

U.S. History for Us All--Created by the UCLA National Center of History, you can be sure these U.S. primary sources and lessons are top notch.

iCivics--iCivics prepares young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st century citizens by creating free and innovative educational materials.In 2009, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance. Today iCivics comprises not just a board and staff, but also a national leadership team of state supreme court justices, secretaries of state, and educational leaders and a network of committed volunteers. Together, the iCivics team is committed to passing along our legacy of democracy to the next generation.

Bridging World History Units: Annenberg Learner--Annenberg Learner's mission is to "Advance Excellent Teaching in American Schools." They have pursued this mission for more than three decades by funding and distributing multimedia resources for teachers (K-12 and college levels) to teach their subjects and to stay up-to-date in their fields. As the name Annenberg Learner implies, they focus on the teacher as a learner, as well as the student as a learner. In fact, all adults who are lifelong learners have enjoyed and benefited from using these resources. Bridging World History is organized into 26 thematic units along a chronological thread. Materials include: videos, an audio glossary and a thematically-organized interactive lesson plan.

World History Matters--World History Matters is a portal to world history websites developed by the Center for History and New Media.

World History for Us All--World History for Us All is a powerful, innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools.World History for Us All:
  • offers a treasury of teaching units, lesson plans, and resources
  • presents the human past as a single story rather than unconnected stories of many civilizations
  • helps teachers meet state and national standards
  • enables teachers to survey world history without excluding major peoples, regions, or time periods
  • helps students understand the past by connecting specific subject matter to larger historical patterns
  • draws on up-to-date historical research
  • may be readily adapted to a variety of world history programs.
World History for Us All is a national collaboration of K-12 teachers, collegiate instructors, and educational technology specialists. It is a project of San Diego State University in cooperation with the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA. World History for Us All is a continuing project.

Facing History and Ourselves--Facing History’s 55 resources and original publications help students and educators all over the world learn to recognize bigotry and indifference. Through the guides and teaching methods, students are introduced to individuals who have shown courage and compassion throughout history in the face of injustice, and see that their own daily choices can have major impacts and perhaps even be a critical link to a safer future.

Tolerance.org--a magazine created by the Southern Poverty Law Center (free for teachers), this website also provides teaching strategies, lesson plans, activities, and sources on topics dealing with timeless issues of injustice.

National History Day--National History Day motivates students to discover history by:
Cultivating interest: students research a topic of their choice
Developing research skills: students act as historians discovering how to uncover primary sources, build historical context and form historical interpretations
Becoming experts on their research topic: presenting their research to teachers, students, and historians
Achieving success
-The shy student gains confidence when speaking about a topic he/she has researched
-The apathetic student gains passion by choosing a topic of personal interest
-The high achieving student increases his/her ability to articulate their learning through presentation

Comparative Constitution Project--The intent of the project is to investigate the sources and consequences of constitutional choices. Towards this end, the investigators are collecting data on the formal characteristics of written constitutions, both current and historical, for most independent states since 1789.

Historical Thinking Matters--a website focused on key topics in U.S. history, that is designed to teach students how to critically read primary sources and how to critique and construct historical narratives. Currently, they have activities that investigate the Spanish-American War, the Scopes Trial, Social Security, and Rosa Parks.

DoHistory--DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary people in the past. It is an experimental, interactive case study, based on the research that went into the book and film A Midwife's Tale, which was based upon the remarkable 200 year old diary of midwife/healer Martha Ballard. Although DoHistory is centered on the life of Martha Ballard, you can learn basic skills and techniques for interpreting fragments that survive from any period in history.

Streetlaw Landmark Cases--Street Law, Inc. developed landmarkcases.org in 2002, with funding from the Supreme Court Historical Society to provide teachers with a full range of resources and activities to support the teaching of landmark Supreme Court cases.

History Games and Animations--Fun History games and animations organized around broad historical periods. Most of these games and animations are aimed at students aged 10-16. With links to over 1200 history-related web sites that have been reviewed for quality, accuracy, and usefulness, the site also includes links to K-12 history lesson plans, teacher guides, activities, games, quizzes, and more.


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