Lesson Plans

The Formation of Political Parties

Students work in groups to investigate a case study using primary sources to help answer the question “Why do political parties form?” Students then use their learning to advise one of the two major U.S. political parties about a fledgling new “Teen Party”.

Liberty and Civility: Rules for Citizens in a Democratic Society

Students examine George Washington’s Rules of Civility in preparation for learning how and why citizens in a free society are expected to exercise personal civility. Students will then apply their understanding by creating civility posters and analyzing and addressing examples of incivility in a comic strip.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But If You Lobby Sometimes, You Might Find, You Get What You Need)

Students will investigate lobbying and the role of lobbyists in U.S. government historically and currently, brainstorm an idea for school improvement that they will lobby either for or against, and reflect on how they have grown through their learning.

Who Gets the Vote?

Students review the amendment clause of the U.S. Constitution, then analyze primary sources to deepen understanding of how constitutional voting (suffrage) amendments expanded the electorate and the rights of Americans. After, they’ll research a current voting rights issue and write a letter to their U.S. congressman about their informed view of the issue.

Faction and Democracy

Students write a multi-paragraph argumentative letter in opposition to a proposed bipartisan Senate bill to eliminate factions outside of the two major parties based on the ideas put forth by James Madison in Federalist No. 10, George Washington in his Farewell Address, and Thomas Jefferson in his First Inaugural Address.

Engine Company 54 lost 15 men, 9/11/01

Through analysis of a collage created post 9/11, students consider how art can help us to process and understand difficult events. After, they collect everyday materials to create a piece of art and an accompanying curator note that reflects on a contemporary event.

Tree of Liberty

Students compare and contrast perspectives of the economics of slavery and free industry in the mid 19th century, then consider issues they might include under a tree of liberty for modern times.

Presidential Election Campaigns: Goal!

Students investigate presidential elections in the early 20th century, then read contemporary newspaper articles related to contemporary presidential election campaigns from different ends of the political spectrum and present their learning through creation of a modern political cartoon.

Pandemic and Civic Virtue: The American Red Cross and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Historical primary sources provide examples of civic virtue–that is, of citizens dedicating themselves to the common welfare, even at the cost of their own interests. By examining such sources, students can reflect on how civic virtue was practiced in the past, and how the concept might apply today. 

Outbreak – A World Wide Health Crisis

As the world confronts global health problems such as epidemics or pandemics, involve your students in an authentic lesson that looks at past primary sources to increase understanding of health related issues. Encourage students to use past and current information and digital tools to research, make informed decisions and contribute to their own and their…

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