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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. 

"Bricks and Mortar" Vocabulary Strategy in Social Studies - Video Guide

A large, discipline-specific vocabulary is a distinct challenge for Students with Disabilities and other diverse learners in History and Social Science. Concepts like "citizen" or "rights" are complex, culturally fluid, and difficult to picture. While the vast number of specific or historical technical terms like "longitude," "veto," "cuneiform," and "carpetbagger" require depth of context and background experience. 

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! 

Gallery Walk

A "Gallery Walk" prompts students to write responses to an image, and build upon one another's comments anonymously as they write their responses. This strategy offers a silent form of classroom discussion. Click here to watch a video from Facing History where high school students respond to images of monuments and memorials as part of a larger project. (8:08 mins)

*** Before watching the video, you can download the "Viewing Guide" below.

Incorporating Visual and Performing Arts

Incorporating visual and performing arts into lessons helps students to relate personally to academic subject matter, broadens the range of modes of expression, and empowers student voice. Philadelphia's University of the Arts has posted many teacher-developed lessons from its courses on the arts and primary sources.

Lesson plans can be searched by grade level, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12. 

Lesson plans can also be searched by the following categories:

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. 

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