Resources for Social Studies Teachers

Creating a political classroom requires high quality materials. Below is a list of websites and organizations that teachers might draw upon to prepare students for discussion and to find activities that get students talking about political issues.



General Lesson Plans

The Educator’s Reference Desk: The Educator’s Reference Desk is a collection of lesson plans organized according to discipline.

Edsitement: Edsitement is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This website offers history and social studies lesson plans as well as links to other useful social studies content.

Hotchalk Lesson Plans Page: This website offers lesson plans accompanied by handouts and readings, organized by content area.

Lesson Plans and Resources for Social Studies Teachers: Lesson plans and other resources collected Dr. Marty Levine, a professor of secondary education. The site has not been updated for some time, but it still has useful resources. Be sure to look at “Lesson plans and teaching resources” link.

Thinkfinity: Thinkfinity is Verizon foundation’s Verizon Mobile Learning Academy, a virtual, moderated professional development course offered to teams of educators for free.

Media Outlets

CNN Student News: This is a 10-minute commercial-free show about current events produced by CNN. The site includes archived news reports and articles, discussion topics, and printable .pdf maps relevant to stories in the news.

Discovery Education: Created by the Discovery Channel, this site provides a wide array of resources, though not all are related directly to social studies. Look for links to lesson plans, video clips, worksheets, and more.

FreeDocumentaries.org: Appropriately named, this site offers scores of free streamed documentaries, though the quality is not always the best.

History Classroom: Part of the History Channel, this site contains streaming videos, background information, and other useful resources to engage students in history.

National Geographic: The site offers lessons and activities about geography and cultures. Also, it links to a variety of National Geographic resources that will enhance a lesson and engage students, from world music to video clips to interactive maps.

New York Times Learning Network: The Network has lesson plans and materials based on articles from the New York Times.

PBS Learning Media: PBS Learning Media allows you to sort through articles, lesson plans, and activities by grade level, topic, and/or PBS program. PBS NewsHourExtra has particularly strong resources.

Content Specific Organizations

Annenberg Classrooms: Annenberg Classrooms offers a collection of lesson plans, resources, videos, and games about the U.S. government.

Center for Civic Education: The Center’s website offers numerous podcasts, such as a monthy Education for Democracy podcast, in addition to curriculum, information about civics education programs, and other multimedia resources appropriate for middle and high school students.

Choices Program: The program brings to life current and historical public policy issues for high school students. Some resources include, workshops, classroom materials, and a mailing list.

CIA World Factbook: Information about the government, economy, geography, history, and people for every country in the world.

CongressLink: CongressLink provides information about the U.S. Congress – how it works, its members and leader, and the public policies it produces. It is directed toward teachers of American Government and civics. Resources include original content, such as lesson plans and historical materials, and up-to-the-minute information about Congress.

Constitutional Rights Foundation: CRF is a non-profit, non-partisan, communitybased organization dedicated to educating America’s young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society. CRF develops and distributes programs and materials to teachers, students, and public-minded citizens across the nation, inlcuding lessons and activities about democracy with specific attention on deliberation.

Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago: CRFC is based in Chicago. It focuses on designing and implementing rights, law, and policy related education programs and resources for students and teachers.

Deliberating in a Democracy: DID is conducted by the Constitutional Right Foundation Chicago and StreetLaw, Inc. The program’s aim is to promote the learning of democratic principles by teaching students how to deliberate controversial public issues. An array of issue-specific, democracy, and deliberation lesson plans are located under the “Lessons” tab.

Games for Change (G4C): G4C provides support, visibility, and shared resources to individuals and organizations using and designing digital games for social change. Its website offers free game channels and online series on numerous social issues. G4C also provides an opportunity for educators to connect with one another and an annual festival.

History Matters: History Matters designed a comprehensive site for U.S. History teachers. Find primary documents, read about how experts approach history, and search hundreds of the best websites about U.S. History.

iCivics: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the driving force behind this web-based civics education project featuring curriculum units, lesson plans, and highly interactive games.

iDebate.org: Hosted by the International Debate Association, this site contains pro-con arguments and resources for 100 public issues. Contains discussion forums and data generated by participants around the world.

iSideWith.com: This site quizzes the user about their views on a variety of political issues and uses that information to identify the candidate most in-line with the user’s views and ideology.

LandmarkCases.org: This site was developed by Street Law, Inc. and the Supreme Court Historical Society to provide teachers with resources and activities that help students explore the key issues of landmark Supreme Court cases. The resources feature basic building blocks, such as background summaries and excerpts of opinions geared for the classroom. The activities include both short and in-depth lessons.

Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility: Teachable Moment offers lesson plans for k-12 that promote critical thinking on both domestic and international current issues.

National Constitution Center: The education blog offers lesson plans, professional dvelopment resources, and educational content related to the U.S. Constitution.

ProCon.org: The teacher’s corner of this site containes resources for critical thinking and educating without bias. The available materials prsent controversial issues in a direct, nonpartisan, and primarily pro-con format.

Rethinking Schools: Rethinking Schools is an independent publisher of educational materials and professional development resources, many of which focus on controversial issues.

Street Law, Inc.: Street Law has more than 40 years of experience developing programs and materials that educate young people about law and government and designing professional development opportunities for social studies teachers. The resource library on StreetLaw.org contains hundreds of free teaching activities and methods, case summaries, mock trials, and articles.

TakingITGlobal: Through a safe, interactive, and virtual classroom, TIG offers the opportunity to participate in a community of global educators and access online learning resources and learning activities.

Collaboration & Exchange

Choices Program Be The Change Video Contest: The Choices Program invites students in grades 9-12 to create a two minute video detailing a global issue that matters to them and what they are doing to create change in their school, neighborhood, or beyond.

ePals Global Community: ePals connects users from around the globe, providing the tools and meeting places to create a worldwide community of learners.

Flat Classroom Project: Award-winning education wikis have come from this. These wikis can be used to collaborate around issues among classrooms around the globe.

Global Classrooms: Although specific targeted to schools with the Global Classrooms program, this website contains useful lesson plans for leading country specific discussions and classroom activities on international issues. United Nations information targeted for teachers with students in mind, makes learning about international bodies easier for students.

Global Nomads Group: GNG is an international NGO that creates interactive educational programs for students about global issues. GNG’s educational programs include videos on a variety of international issues and videoconferences, where students learn about and discuss topics with their peers from around the world in live, facilitated sessions.

iEARN (International Education and Research Network): iEARN is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

National Issues Forum: The National Issues Forum brings people together to talk about important issues. Issues range from small study circles held in people’s homes to large community gatherings modeled on New England town meetings. Each forum focuses on a specific issue, such as illegal drucks, Social Security, and juvenile crime.

UNICEF Voices of Youth: Voices of Youth offers all children and adolescents, including the hard-to-reach, a safe and supportive global cyberspace within which they can explore, discuss and partner on issues related to human rights and social change, as well as develop their awareness, leadership, community building, and critical thinking skills through active and substantive participation with their peers and with decision makers globally.

Youth Media Exchange: Youth Media Exchange is a social networking site where youth from around the world can share a variety of forms of digital media on a range of issues.

Museums, Libraries, and Archives

British Museum: Look at the “Resources” section of this site for for downloadable resources by age group, culture, and subject. They have posted various curriculum resources and an extensive digital collection of cultural artifacts from around the world. The terms KS3 and KS 4 are roughly the equivalent to the U.S. designation of “secondary.”

Library of Congress: Primary source materials, data sets, presentations, and other classroom materials are available here. This is a very dense site and may take a while to find specific resources, but they come from an official source.

National Archives: A content-rich site with links to lesson plans, primary sources, and professional development opportunities. Plan on spending some time exploring this site.

Smithsonian Education: Search for curricular material by subject or by state standards. A gigantic collection of resources to teach about cultures from all over the world.

Vanderbilt University Public Policy Issues and Groups: This site contains content and resources about a wide range of public policy issues. It is updated frequently to include up-to-date information about each topic.

Wisconsin Historical Society: Access to lesson plans and online collections of primary source material.

Professional Organizations

American Bar Association (ABA): With more than 400,000 members, the ABA is the largest voluntary professional association in the world. Among the many services it provides, the website contains a number of resources, including lesson plans, about the role and rights of citizens in a democracy.

American Psychological Association (APA): Lesson plans and ideas for those teaching high school psychology

Council for Economic Education: With the lessons and resources available on this site, it will be much easier to teach students of all grade levels about economics.

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS): NCSS is an association aimed at supporting social studies teachers. Look under the “resources” link on the top bar of the homepage to find k-12 lessons and other helpful information.

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