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What Do Trains Do? Exploring Local History through Maps

Using familiar imagery of trains, young students can begin to make foundational connections to geography and history using primary sources. Kindergarten students will make a first exploration of local history through early railroad maps from the Library of Congress. This lesson addresses Kindergarten Common Core State Standards and several Massachusetts Social Studies standards and skills. centered around maps. The culminating activity has students create and modify their own town maps to include symbols, cardinal directions, labels, a key, etc.

Six Goals of the United States Constitution Preamble

“…establish justice…” “…promote the general welfare….” “…secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”  

By connecting the goals of the federal government to primary source visual representations, this simple civics lesson will help students to remember and think more deeply about the goals set out by the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Restricting Immigration to the US

This lesson uses the 21st century “travel ban,” ruled constitutional in 2018, as an entry point to explore previous shifts in US immigration policy. More specifically, students will use primary sources to examine social contexts of three specific immigration laws (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Immigration Acts of 1921 & 1924, and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952) in order to understand who was banned or excluded from the US and why.

Civil Rights & Disability: 1990 ADA, IDEA, & the Juvenile Justice System Today

Kelley McDermott, History teacher in a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facility developed this lesson to attract her 8th grade students interest in research and public policy. Historically, students with disabilities are disproportionally caught up in the juvenile justice system. The lesson employs many strategies and tools for accessibility from Emerging America's Accessing Inquiry course. These include a focus vocabulary analysis and Universal Design for Learning plan.

Road to Freedom: Emancipation Proclamation

Since arriving in North America in the 15th century, Africans in the United States were forced to navigate the social, economic, and physical limitations placed upon their lives by the institutions of slavery and the racist ideology that justified it. The following primary source set shows several ways that different communities responded to the outlawing of the Atlantic slave trade (and subsequent yearly celebrations of the event) and the Emancipation Proclamation. These two events fundamentally challenged and changed the institutional practices of slavery. 

Social Justice Books

From Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project, this powerful site offers more than 60 curated lists of books on social justice and multicultural points of view for children, young adults, and educators. Book lists are organized by topic areas–including Changemakers, Disabilities, Immigration (and specific immigrant groups), Organizing, and Voting Rights! 

Differentiating Instruction for Special Education ELL Students

In this example, a Special Education teacher who built a unit around a museum field trip describes a combination of teaching strategies designed to meet the needs of English Learners and students with disabilities, providing examples of student work.

She describes "the opportunity to supplement my curriculum units with visualizations and hands-on experiences to facilitate their learning of weather and climate concepts and to make connections between content areas and Museum exhibits."

Strategies described and illustrated include:

Emerging America Lesson Accessibility Grid

 

Emerging America's lesson plan template features a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) grid borrowed from Social Studies & Exceptional Learners (see below). Three columns call for strategies that support the UDL instructional framework. Checklist items suggest tools and activities that could effectively support each element. Brief descriptions below explain how the teacher will apply checked items. 

Disability History Timelines

Analysis of the timelines below can help students to locate important events in Disability History in a larger historical framework. Timelines also offer opportunities to explore the impacts of activism, policy, and social change. Disability History timelines work best when students are also gaining contextual background knowledge about larger social forces and events. Thus these particular timelines are recommended for grades 6-12. 

 

Scan Multiple Timelines 

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