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Teaching With Primary Sources

English Language Arts

Dolores Huerta: Working with Others to Create Change pdf
ELA  - Grade Level: 3-5
In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions for farmworkers in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta. Finally, students will complete a writing assignment to reflect on working with others to help solve a problem.

Dolores Huerta: Building Coalitions to Change Society pdf
ELA  -  Grade Level: 6-8
In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions at different times in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta, including a poem written to celebrate her work. Finally, students will write their own poem about a time they worked as part of a coalition to help solve a problem.

Dolores Huerta: Inspiring Civic Responsibility  pdf
ELA -  Grade Level: 9-12
In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions at different times in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta, including a poem written to celebrate her work. Finally, students will write a poem, speech, or letter to the editor about a social movement (past, present, or future) that inspires them to fulfill their civic responsibilities.

Social Studies

Find Your Freedom pdf
Social Studies - Grade Level: 4-5
Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will analyze primary sources from the Library of Congress to identify freedoms and rights. Then they will be provided with background information about the Bill of Rights. Students will match the amendments related to some of the freedoms they identified through analyzing sources and will then work in small groups to reach consensus and propose a new amendment to secure rights or freedoms not included in the Bill of Rights.

Find Your Freedom pdf
Social Studies - Grade Level: 6-8
In this lesson, students will analyze primary sources from the Library of Congress including Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” and “The Bill of Rights.” Students will identify amendments related to two of the four freedoms from the primary sources and will then work in small groups to reach consensus and propose a new amendment to secure rights or freedoms not included in the Bill of Rights.

Going Viral: Four Freedoms pdf
Social Studies  - Grade Level: 9-12
In this lesson, students will analyze a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech and use primary sources from the Library of Congress to gain historical context. Next, students will explore sources from the Library to draw conclusions about the impact of the speech on American culture at the time. Finally, students will write their own “Four Freedoms” speech, outlining four freedoms they believe Americans should keep front-of-mind today.

Extra! Extra! Journalists and a Free Press pdf
Social Studies  - Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students learn about the crucial role journalists and reporters play in keeping the citizens in a democratic society informed about their community, the nation, and the world. First, students are introduced to the notion of “freedom of the press” from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and they discuss the role of journalists in reporting the news to us all. Then, students analyze primary sources related to famous journalists while referring to historical context for each in order to understand the important role these journalists played in their time. Finally, students create an issue of their own school newspaper to understand the responsibility their have as journalists to report accurately, fairly, and truthfully.

Suppressing the Press? Censorship and the Alien & Sedition Acts pdf
Social Studies  - Grade Level: 6-8
In this lesson, students will explore freedom of the press as they examine sources related to government censorship of the press. After reviewing the First Amendment and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, they will further analyze the Sedition Act and explore its relevance today. Then students will examine a political cartoon to discuss the relevance of the freedom over time. Finally, they will design and create their own poster promoting freedom of the press today.

A Free Press in Wartime  pdf
Social Studies  - Grade Level: 9-12
In this lesson, students will analyze a political cartoon created by William Allen Rogers during World War I to give context to press censorship during that war. Next, students will explore additional sources from the Library of Congress to analyze how censorship worked both before and after the passage of the Sedition Act of 1918. Finally, students will compose their own “email to the editor” of a local newspaper or online news source, expressing their own views about the importance of freedom of the press and their informed opinion of press censorship in wartime.

These lessons were created by Constitutional Rights Foundation in collaboration with the Barat Education Foundation, and DePaul University College of Education; funded and distributed through a Teaching with Primary Sources grant awarded by the Library of Congress.