Lesson Plans

What’s the Problem with Patents?

Students analyze 20th-century primary sources to scrutinize patents over time. Next, students are introduced to the subject of bioethics and investigate contemporary biological patents. After, students participate in a debate about the ethics of medical research and patents.

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Civic Actions to Impact the Future

Students make connections between the past, present, and future of the environment through their own imaginings, analysis of a primary source image, and the poem “Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now” by Matthew Olzmann. After, students might assess waste or pollution in their school or local community, then consider actions they could take…

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How Did Birds Gain Political Protection?

Students analyze a variety of primary sources to investigate the impact turn-of-the-20th-century women’s fashion industry had on migratory birds, grassroots political efforts taken to protect the birds, and subsequent state and national laws. After, students will research a contemporary biodiversity issue and create a poster, flyer, or written announcement to inform people and call them…

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Do Our Parks Do What They Are Supposed to Do?

Students analyze primary source images and texts to investigate Frederick Law Olmsted’s theories of park purpose, design and development, then use what they’ve learned to assess a local park. Students may then make a proposal to the applicable local agency to preserve or renovate a park they identified.

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The New England Fishing Industry: Sea Changes in a Community

Students analyze photographs, maps and interviews to understand the geographic and economic characteristics of the U.S. Northeast coast and the link between New England’s economic and cultural past and the issues it faces for its future through researching industry issues, interviewing industry actors, and/or researching current legislation related to fishing and fisheries.

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The Conservation Movement at a Crossroads: The Hetch Hetchy Controversy

Students analyze primary sources to investigate the debate over damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, which marked a crossroads in the American conservation movement when San Francisco’s need for a reliable water supply, along with a new political dynamic at the federal level, created a division between those committed to preserving the…

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Natural Disasters: Nature’s Fury

Students analyze a variety of primary sources to examine Americans’ life changing experiences with nature during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then research the Library of Congress online collections to broaden their understanding of how communities have dealt with disaster. Next, students connect their investigations to a literary work of historical fiction based…

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Environmental Resource Management: Local and Historical Perspectives

Students analyze primary sources to understand the contexts of America’s concern for the environment. After, students produce a paper or presentation on a contemporary topic of local concern that incorporates historical perspectives with current issues.

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Technology & Presidential Nominating Conventions

Students analyze primary sources and other resources from 1928, 1960, and 2020 to investigate and consider the impact changes in technology had on presidential nominating conventions. After, students envision future technologies and how they might be used to impact future presidential elections.

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Monumental Men

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt made significant contributions to the United States. Through the lens of both primary and secondary sources, students learn about the characters and contributions of these presidents and determine for themselves the qualities and accomplishments that make someone, including themselves, worthy of a lasting tribute. The lesson…

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