Education

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101 Great Sites for Social Studies Class

March 22, 2012 09:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Many teachers have yet to fully embrace the potential for the Internet to transform the social studies curriculum. Whether your class is named History, Government, Civics, Economics or Psychology, there is a great wealth of material available online that will engage your students. We’ve assembled just a smattering of the best of it here.

Essential Social Studies Sites

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1.) The Library of Congress is a great source to find historical documents, photos, art, maps, audio and video, artifacts and other items. The American Memory section organizes items based on topics, time periods and places of American history. The World Digital Library, a cooperative project with UNESCO, includes rare documents from around the world.

2.) The National Archives and Records Administration has a massive collection of material on U.S. history that can sometimes be overwhelming to search through. The Resources for National History Day Research page guides students on where to find material in the archives.

3.) PBS has a wide range of resources for students from its various programs. The most useful is likely the companion Web sites for the American Experience documentary series examining important events and people in American history. Each site includes resources such as descriptions of the events, biographies of key figures, primary source documents, interactive maps and transcripts of the film. Also visit the American Masters series for biographies of historical figures.

3.1) EDSITEment "offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies."
4.) George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media has created a range of Web sites designed for the needs of students and teachers. It includes basic surveys of U.S. and world history, sites that teach students to use primary sources, and sites that provide lesson plans and ideas for teachers. It also features several Web sites of archives and exhibits.

5.) The Smithsonian Institution has a wide variety of exhibitions and collections on American history and culture. It also offers lesson plans searchable by grade level, type of resource and historical topic.

Intro to U.S. Government

6.) iCivics offers civics lessons created by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The page offers resources for middle school students and their teachers, such as printable games and writing assignments.

7.) The Government Printing Office’s Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids explains in a kid-friendly manner how the U.S. government works; lessons are divided by grade level.

The Constitution

8.) The Constitutional Rights Foundation offers a wide array of resources, including lesson plans and enrichment texts, on constitutional issues designed to help students understand the Constitution and become better citizens.

9.) The National Archives’ Charters of Freedom
explains the making of and impact of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. It includes images of the documents, biographies of the framers, and fun facts.

10.) The University of Chicago’s Founders’ Constitution is an anthology of 18th century writings on the debate over the creation of the Constitution. The works are organized by sections of the Constitution, making it easy to understand how opinion of each founding father influenced the formation of the Constitution.

Presidents

11.) The Web sites of 13 U.S. presidential libraries are linked to by the National Archives. In this libraries, you can find resources such as Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats and Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes.

12.) The University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs is the best resource for studying U.S. presidents. It provides detailed biographies of each president, along with profiles of his cabinet, a collection of speeches, and links to the most comprehensive sources for private and public papers.

13.) The official Web site of the White House lets you listen to the President's weekly video address, read transcripts of White House press briefings, find the names of all current Cabinet members, and more. It also provides biographies of every president.

Congress

14.) The U.S. House of Representatives’ The House Explained page provides details on the legislative process, explaining how laws are made.

15.) The Center on Congress at Indiana University
offers interactive simulations that explain how Congress operates. It includes video and audio from congressmen and others.

16.) The Library of Congress’ THOMAS is a database of congressional activity dating back to 1973. You can find bills, treaties and the congressional record, and track current activity on the House and Senate floor.

17.) The Library of Congress’ A Century of Lawmaking provides the records of the Continental Congress, Constitutional Convention and first 43 sessions of Congress (1789-1873).

18.) The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress offers short biographies of every senator and representative in U.S. history.

The Supreme Court

19.) The Oyez Project at Northwestern University allows you to listen to the Supreme Court justices as they deliberate cases, providing a complete source of all audio recorded since the installation of a recording system in the Court in 1955.

20.) The Supreme Court Historical Society
has a voluminous history of every court, including a timeline of justices with information about each one. There are sections on the current Court and previous “Homes of the Court,” plus quizzes and videos.

Law

21.) The Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School is the best source for public legal information; it links to government sources for federal, state and international laws, and provides easily searchable text of U.S. codes.

22.) The University of Pittsburgh’s JURIST provide news and commentary of the latest developments in the legal world, as well as providing a wide range of court and government documents.

23.) University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor Douglas Linder has compiled research pages for more than 50 of the most famous trials in history, dating back to the trial of Socrates 399 B.C. Each page includes a detailed account of the events of and leading up to the trial, court documents such as witness testimony and trial excerpts, and other primary documents such as newspaper accounts and letters.
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