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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.

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! 

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

The following primary source set, created using materials from the Library of Congress, contains a vast array of sources focused on Disability History in the United States. Disability has been interwoven into America’s history since the country’s inception through letters, images, newspapers, diaries and other primary sources. The set provides a comprehensive look into a wide range of Library of Congress resources.

Immigration

The massive influx of immigrants to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries shaped American society both at the time and indefinitely. The following primary source set explores materials organized for the Collaborative for Educational Services and by the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has crafted a vast number of primary source sets, interactive presentations, and collections to showcase the tremendous volume of materials on the subject.

Mapping Springfield’s Industrial Growth

The following lesson on the industrial growth of Springfield, Massachusetts during the 19th century was created during the National Endowment for Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop – Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry, in the summer of 2015. Utilizing both primary and secondary source materials students will explore the industrial transformation of the Pioneer Valley during the early 19th century.

Technological Innovation and Change in the Connecticut River Valley in the Antebellum Era

A research unit and project developed during the National Endowment for Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop – Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry, in the summer of 2015, the following five-day lesson plan and subsequent independent student study, contains a comprehensive companion site to drive student learning and engagement. Instruction and research center around the development of technologies that shaped the American Industrial Revolution during the Antebellum Era in the Connecticut River Valley.

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