Social Studies

ELA (X) - Social Studies (X) - Middle (X) - U.S. History (X)

All Aboard! Railroads and Their Impact on Nevada | Wild Nevada

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Nevada's rich historical past is revealed through examining industries from the mid 1800s to the present. One such industry is the railroad. Railroads, mining, and immigration all shaped Nevada into the state it is today. By examining the railroads of Nevada, students learn about economic growth, contributions of immigrants, and how the advancement of Nevada was achieved with the help of railroads.

West Virginia | Road to Statehood

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Explore the events leading to statehood for West Virginia. The five lesson plans provide a guided viewing graphic organizer, primary source documents, maps, and activities to engage students in the study of the presidential election of 1860, the issues of the time, and individuals who played a role in the movment.

Symbolism in "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" | A Walk Through Harlem

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This segment from A Walk Through Harlem presents the poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” written by Langston Hughes in 1922.  Hughes traveled to New York City by the 1920s to become a part of an exciting arts and culture movement called the Harlem Renaissance.  He later became known as the "poet laureate of Harlem." Hughes was one of the first African American writers who wrote about the authentic experiences of his people reflecting their pain, suffering, humor, creativity, and joy. Hughes made substantial artistic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance and holds an important place in American literature.  

Quoting Abraham Lincoln

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This excerpt from the PBS series Looking for Lincoln, features clips of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama quoting Lincoln's oratory-not always accurately-to lend his historical weight to their own speeches.

Analyzing Primary Sources to Learn about the Past | Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

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In this series of three mini-lessons, students will participate in a virtual visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum where they’ll have the chance to analyze a variety of primary sources to learn about the character and leadership of President Gerald R. Ford, as well as the era in which he served.

Black Hawk and Catlin: Native Americans Then and Now

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Explore issues connected to representation and point of view in depictions of 19th century Native Americans by George Catlin and Black Hawk in this video from Picturing America On Screen. Catlin’s paintings provide testimony not only to the country’s fascination with American Indians but also to the artist’s ambition to document disappearing frontier cultures. Black Hawk’s work provides invaluable visual testimony to the nation’s Native American heritage and reveals intriguing details of the Lakota people—from manner of dress to social customs. In doing so, he captures a way of life that was fast disappearing as settlers moved West in increasing numbers and tribes were moved to reservations.

Support material challenges students to define culture and asks them to consider how Native Americans see themselves today. While it may be valuable to look to history to help understand Native American culture, tribes are still very much alive today and have redefined themselves as a living culture. Students are asked to think about stereotypes held about Native Americans and to research and learn more about a Native American tribe today.

Washakie: Last Chief of the Eastern Shoshone | Wyoming's Native Americans

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The long life of Chief Washakie bridged a century of change in the American west—from the time of nomadic tribes following buffalo herds, to the period when tribes relinquished their claims to vast tracts of land in the West. That's when the Eastern Shoshone settled on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Building, Structure, and Property Research | History Detectives

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Ten million American service men and women came home at the close of WWII, eager to turn their energies from fighting to building a modern postwar nation. An emerging network of interstate highways would encourage a new scale of housing in large new suburbs, places like Levittown, New York, where the company’s factory produced one four room house every 16 minutes in 1950. The Depression, followed by the war years, had left the nation with a critical housing shortage. Where would the army of returning GI’s live? History Detectives investigates a discovery which may offer a unique look at how necessity became the mother of invention in postwar America. Has a boxcar been used to build a couple's Lakewood home?

To Kill a Mockingbird Setting: A Portrait of a Southern Town in the 1930s

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In this video from American Masters: Harper Lee: Hey, Boo, learn about the small town of Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee’s hometown and the inspiration for the fictional town of Maycomb, the setting for To Kill a Mockingbird. Through archival interviews, photographs, and present-day commentary (including an excerpt from an interview with Harper Lee), students will learn what life was like for people living in the South during the Great Depression.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers | A Walk Through Harlem

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This segment from A Walk Through Harlem presents the poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” written by Langston Hughes in 1922 when he was eighteen years old. Born in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes traveled to New York City in the 1920s to become a part of an exciting arts and culture movement called the Harlem Renaissance. He later became known as the "poet laureate of Harlem." Hughes was one of the first African American writers who wrote stories about the authentic experiences of his people reflecting their pain, suffering, humor, creativity, and joy. He often was inspired by music and incorporated it into his poetry. Hughes made substantial artistic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance and holds an important place in American literature.

Author Wes Moore Explores Where Two Lives Diverge

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One name, two starkly different lives - that's the real-life scenario at the heart of author Wes Moore's new book, which explores how his life diverged from that of another boy with the same name who grew up in the same inner city Baltimore neighborhood.

Toni Morrison on Paradise

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Toni Morrison, winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, discusses her writing process and her novel Paradise.

Montana Mosaics: Capital Fight of 1884

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The fight over where to situate Montana's permanent capital was one of the ugliest and most corrupt in Montana's history. By 1894, the principal contenders had been reduced to two: Helena and Anaconda. Deep in the matrix of the contest was economic as well as political rivalry. William Andrews Clark was a financial power in Montana—a mining millionaire—and so was Marcus Daly, head of the Anaconda Copper Company. Their economic rivalry and affluence spilled beyond the confines of their corporate interests and permeated all Montana politics.

Olympics Spur Protests Against Russia

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Help students understand the human rights issues surrounding the Sochi Olympic Games with this PBS NewsHour video from February 5, 2014. With the start of the 2014 Winter Games only days away, the president of the International Olympic Committee insisted that all countries respect the neutral, apolitical nature of the competition. That statement comes in the wake of international furor over a recently adopted Russian law that bans so-called gay propaganda. For a unit with four lesson plans on this topic please click here.

Obama Gets Personal in Effort to Help Young Men of Color

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Use this PBS NewsHour video and teacher's guide from February 28, 2014 to engage students on the important topic of supporting young men of color.

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