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Literacy in Practice Standards Are the Entry Point for Elementary Social Studies

How can we teach students the most vital skills to function as citizens? Since the early 19th century, preparation for civic life has been the central reason for public schools. As part of a multi-year effort to reinvigorate the civic mission of schools, in 2016 the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) added “readiness for civic life” to its core definition of what it means to be educated in the state. http://www.doe.mass.edu/ccr/

Early America: Maps and Exploration

Maps, Knowledge, and Power in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Maps are a representation of geographical space. As such, they are valuable as a source of information. Yet their makers can also use them to control or alter perceptions of that same information. In the 14th and 15th centuries, cartography, or the science of map-making, changed rapidly due to the explorations of the Americas. Use the maps below to trace some of these changes.

Primary Sources:

Mappa mundi, Hereford, c.1300 

Unexpected Connections: Using Local Primary Sources to Analyze the Five Factors of Community Development in World History

Through the examination of primary source documents, relevant to both local and medieval world history, students will gain an understanding of the specific factors that occur during the development of communities. Students will work collectively, using the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool, to demonstrate their understanding of one of the following factors: Settlement, Agriculture, Towns, Population Growth, and Industrialization.

Who Should Care for America’s Veterans?

Care for veterans is relevant to understanding war and the role of government, and is critical to disability history. In this lesson, students gather information through a variety of primary sources on the experiences of veterans from the War of Independence through today. They ask, ‘How has U.S. government care for veterans changed over time?’ Using their evidence, students develop a proposal to today’s Veterans Administration that outlines how veterans should be cared for. 

Citizenship and Community Involvement

This is a great simple civics lesson with three distinctive case studies: marchers with disabilities who took over federal buildings in a historic sit-in in 1977 (the 504 protests), young American volunteers in the Spanish Civil war in 1936, and a 12-year-old mill worker who was inspired to lead a walk-out in 1898. The lesson addresses new content in the 2018 US History II Framework for Massachusetts as it asks students, “did the protesters go too far” and invites them to consider the constitutional underpinnings of individual and collective civic engagement.

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.

New Civics Lesson: The Magna Carta - Due Process from King John to the 14th Amendment and Beyond

A new lesson, appropriate for 8th grade civics and adaptable for other grades, asks: What impact did the Magna Carta have on the U.S. Constitution and the shaping of the 14th Amendment? With a particular emphasis placed on the due process of law, students analyze and organize primary source documents ranging from a British Court of Common Pleas from 1610 to Chief Justice Warren’s notes on Miranda v. Arizona in 1966.

New Accessible Lesson: Six Goals of the United States Constitution Preamble

“...establish justice…” “...promote the general welfare….” “...secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”   Just in time for election day, here is a simple lesson on the founding goals for the government of the United States, adaptable for all grade levels.

New Accessible Lesson Plan: In or Out: Race and Disability as Legal Barriers to Immigration

Who gets accepted as a citizen or as an immigrant?  Who is considered a desirable immigrant? This lesson plan examines the arrival of newcomers and the history of the entry process. Students use primary source images and texts to investigate the answer to this question for Ellis Island in the 1900s and then present evidence with supported claims.

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