David Kitts introduces the concept of change over time by identifying similarities and differences between past and current farming practices. Based on children's literature, his first-grade students draw time wheels to illustrate their understandings of events in agricultural history, while comparing the major changes in farming technology.
China Through Mapping
Mimi Norton uses mapping exercises and other activities to increase her second graders' understanding and appreciation of China's major natural landmarks. Students demonstrate their knowledge of China's geography by constructing a large map and placing the major landmarks in the appropriate positions.
Leaders, Community, and Citizens
Cynthia Vaughn teaches her first graders about connections among citizens, community issues, and local and national leaders, by diagramming those connections on a class chart. Students also explore life in a fictional community through role-plays as its citizens and leaders addressing local problems and possible solutions.
Making Bread Together
Meylin Gonzalez created a fictional bread company to explain basic economic concepts to her kindergarten class. Through participation in the bread-making assembly line, students learn about production, marketing, and the distinction between needs and wants. They also learn about the importance of communication and cooperation in creating and selling a finished product.
Caring for the Community
Debbie Lerner uses her school's remodeling project to teach her multi-age class about community resources. Students discuss the planning, funding, and execution of the construction, talk to the district superintendent, and plan their contributions to the remodeling project.
Celebrations of Light
During the winter, Eileen Mesmer teaches her kindergarten and first-grade class about seasonal holidays from various religious and ethnic traditions, and identifies both the social and scientific aspects of winter solstice. Students participate in group discussions and demonstrations, read stories about the topics, and make posters.
Explorers in North America
Rob Cuddi teaches fifth graders about the impact of explorers in North America, in relation to history, economics, and the environment. Students work in groups to research a particular explorer, write his or her epitaph, create short skits about the explorer, and make posters.
Osvaldo Rubio introduces his fourth-grade class to the history of California missions. Specifically, he presents the effects of social, political, and cultural factors; and the consequences of Spanish peoples interacting with Native Americans. The class discusses cultural ethics and responsibility, and students make art and multimedia presentations.
State Government and the Role of the Citizen
Diane Kerr teaches her fourth graders the functions of the three branches of government and the process through which a bill becomes a law. Students make and present posters and flipbooks to demonstrate their understandings of the state Supreme Court, the system of checks and balances, and the budget. After a discussion about an important local issue, the class writes letters to the district representative, proposing a new bill.
Using Primary Sources
Kathleen Waffle uses colonial-era primary sources to teach her fifth graders about life when the colonies began to experience economic growth. Based on two primary sources from the time period, students use a graphic organizer to analyze specific trades and the master-apprentice relationship, and to compare current business practices to those of colonial times.
Making a Difference Through Giving
Darlene Jones-Inge helps fourth graders find ways to become better citizens by making realistic contributions to the world, the country, and their community. The class defines community and the importance of voting, and identifies major societal problems. In groups, the students then list gifts they want to give to the world, vote on a gift that the class will later work on, and make posters.
Libby Sinclair's fourth- and fifth-grade students investigate stereotypes through discussion and examples in literature. Working in groups, they then research an example of a historical omission, and write to publishers, sharing their knowledge to persuade them to include the information in later publications.
Explorations in Archeology and History
Gwen Larsen introduces her sixth graders to connections among their family histories, the human family, and the development of civilizations. She explains how archeologists investigate artifacts, including noting physical details, asking questions, and exploring oral traditions. In groups, students then examine and write about artifacts. Later, each student brings an heirloom from home to share with the class.
Exploring Geography Through African History
Lisa Farrow teaches her seventh graders about the role of geography in African history. After researching and constructing timelines, maps, and posters, students identify how Africa's geography affects its economics and history. Students also compare trading patterns, languages, and religions of various African empires.
The Amistad Case
Gary Fisher places the Amistad slave ship case at the center of his lesson about the U.S. Supreme Court and the evolution of African American rights. His eighth graders work in groups to research, construct, and present arguments for both sides in a role-play of the Amistad case trial. The lesson addresses issues of morality, justice, law, communication, and cultural differences.
Population and Resource Distribution
Becky Forristal emphasizes the relationship between population and resource distribution through a simulation exercise in which each student is assigned a world region. Her seventh graders work in small groups to distribute resources and tackle global issues, such as immigration, war, and standards of living.
Landmark Supreme Court Cases
Wendy Ewbank guides her seventh- and eighth-grade students through two simulation exercises to examine the nature of individual rights and the U.S. Supreme Court's role in sustaining them. Students debate whether burning the American flag should be protected under the First Amendment and conduct a mock press conference in which they play key figures from historical landmark cases.
The Middle East Conflict
Justin Zimmerman introduces his sixth graders to the Middle East through the region's geography, history, economy, and religions. Using hypothetical situations and a study of current events, students gain a basic understanding of the current conflict and confront the challenges of devising fair solutions.
Public Opinion and the Vietnam War
Liz Morrison's ninth graders explore the controversy of the Vietnam War by investigating primary sources. After making predictions about opinion polls, students examine factual data, news clips, song lyrics, and articles from the time period. Based on this research, they analyze how much public opinion influenced U.S. government policy during the war.
Migration From Latin America
Mavis Weir teaches her 10th graders about migration through group research on six Latin American countries. Each group uses primary and secondary sources to create a multi-faceted product that illustrates its assigned country's economic, political, and social living conditions and possible reasons for migration to the United States.
Wendell Brooks focuses on the U.S. founding principle of democracy to illuminate how competing ideologies drive world events. His ninth graders work in groups to research and present the impact of a major political ideology between World War I and today.
Economic Dilemmas and Solutions
In preparation for their final exam, Steve Page's 12th graders review economic terms by analyzing a series of realistic economic and social problems. In groups, students research and develop solutions, which they present through posters and skits.
Tim Rockey's 12th graders investigate controversial laws to evaluate legal interpretations of gender discrimination. In groups, students debate controversial gender discrimination laws and gender-based distinctions. Each group produces a poster stating when it believes gender-based distinctions are accurate and discrimination is reasonable.
The Individual in Society
In an in-depth study of five philosophers, Brian Poon asks his 12th graders to examine the role of the individual in creating a just society. Using the case of a fictional society on the brink of civil war, students develop solutions based on the ideology of one of the five philosophers.