All resources in DC Public Schools

Engaging Students Regarding Events at U.S. Capitol

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At OSPI, part of our mission is to prepare students for civic engagement throughout their lives. We believe our schools must engage and empower students, from an early age, with opportunities to participate in civil conversations, examples of effective civic engagement, and tools to find peaceful solutions to community problems.OSPI’s Social Studies and Social-Emotional Learning teams have put together resources for educators, families, and students to help with these difficult conversations.

Material Type: Teaching/Learning Strategy

Authors: Kari Tally, Barbara Soots, Washington OSPI OER Project, Jerry Price

Preparing Students for College, Career and Citizenship

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A California Guide to Align Civic Education and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. This resource guide provides educators with practices to equip all students with reading, writing, listening and speaking skills and the knowledge, skills and dispositions to become responsible engaged citizens of the 21st century in a coherent, integrated manner that will be meaningful and relevant. The practices in the guide provide civic education approaches to meet the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The lesson activities in each of the grade spans follow a natural progression that builds students’ historical knowledge of the foundations of democracy, an understanding of how America’s constitutional principles are reinterpreted over time, and the skills and dispositions needed for effective citizenship. Applied knowledge of history, government and civics is necessary for developing civic competency. Therefore, each series of lessons calls for students to actively participate in activities that strengthen reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the context of civic dialogue, debate, persuasion and action.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Reading

Lenses of Vietnam: Protest in a Democracy [Inquiry Design Model (IDM) Unit Plan]

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This inquiry takes students through an analysis and evaluation of the Compelling Question “Is protest important in a democracy?” using the Vietnam War as a lens to approach the topic. To accomplish this, students will become more media literate through evaluating sources, biases, perspectives, and the goals of creating media. Throughout the inquiry, students will engage in activities designed to promote and develop media literacy while analzying the Compelling Question and learning about the historical protests of the Vietnam Era.This inquiry is expected to take two weeks (10 periods) to complete: one 45-minute class period to stage the question, introduce the inquiry, and to review media literacy; two 45-minute class periods for each of the three supporting questions; and then three 45-minute class periods for students to write and research their argumentative thesis. If students are as of yet less familiar with media literacy, the instructor should add at least another class period, or more, introducing them more fully to this.The full unit, along with all materials and resources, is available as a PDF attachment.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Diagram/Illustration, Homework/Assignment, Lesson, Lesson Plan, Module, Primary Source, Reading, Unit of Study

Author: Adam MacDonald

“Freedom of Speech…Always Protected?”

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Without question, Americans look to their First Amendment right to free speech probably as much if not more than any other protection afforded to them under our Constitution and Bill of Rights; for that reason, it demands much attention.  This lesson will seek to provide a background of some of the major free speech cases throughout our country’s history, where those rights have been allowed to be infringed upon by government, and where the courts have stepped in to prevent government from censoring speech.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest

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This lesson from Annenberg Classroom will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

You too could serve in Congress one day!

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This lesson allows students to delve into the life of a current or historical member of Congress. Biography can be a powerful too that can impact a person. The Members of Congress categories include: youngest, women, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans, former athletes, former entertainers and Independents/third party. Students should conduct research and then either write a report, give a presentation (or do both) as an assessment. The lesson provides names for each category, a sample rubric and recommended website resources for research.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan, Reading

Author: Tom Marabello

Know Your Rights!

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As American citizens, you are born with rights, but do you even know what those rights are? In this seminar, you will learn about the creation of the Bill of Rights and how those freedoms are still protected by the United States government today.  Standards5.1.9.D Compare and contrast the basic principles found in significant documents: Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, PA Constitution.5.1.12.E Analyze and assess the rights of people as written in the PA Constitution and the US Constitution.CC.8.5.9-10.B Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text. 

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tracy Rains

Tracing the Ratification of the 19th Amendment

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This lesson attempts to expose students to the long road traveled to achieve the right to vote by the brave women who did so. It will not only serve to increase their awareness and understanding of the many people and issues surrounding the movement for women’s suffrage—and more broadly for equality for women—but also the impact World War I finally had upon making the 19th Amendment a reality. The lesson includes discussion questions, analysis in groups, and links to readings. It aligns to Social Studies curriculum standards for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

"The Constitution vs. The Articles of Confederation"

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To ensure and enhance student understanding of concepts related to the Constitution and Articles of Confederation, specifically students will be able to:Explain the larger ideas of federalism vs. anti-federalism or states’ rights, and how those ideas feed into people’s overall political beliefs.Identify and explain the various branches of the federal government, the obstacles that had been faced under the Articles of Confederation, and how this new federalist/republican model of government grew out of those difficulties.Identify and explain the various powers delegated to the states versus federal government in both documents, what changed, and why.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

Federalism v. States Rights

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This lesson seeks to allow students the chance to analyze difficult primary source materials looking for insights into the authors’ views and opinions, as well as giving them a thorough working understanding of the many issues surrounding both federalism and anti-federalism.  They can also begin to draw conclusions about their own beliefs about the role of the federal government in the lives of citizens, as well as make connections to today’s political parties and their ideas on the subject.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Tom Marabello

DBQ: U.S.-Cuba Relations

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This set of primary source documents is compiled as a DBQ (document based question) assignment. DBQs are used in all AP history courses to get students to group and analyze documents and authors' points of view into an essay. Students should be able to use the provided documents and prompt to group similar documents together and then write a 5 paragraph essay.

Material Type: Assessment, Primary Source

Author: Tom Marabello

Introducing the Historical Diplomacy Simulation Program

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How can we learn diplomacy through history? In June 2021, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) launched the Historical Diplomacy Simulation Program. This program provides educators with the opportunity to bring diplomacy and the work of U.S. diplomats into the classroom. Historical diplomacy simulations also offer teachers a way to internationalize their curriculum. In most classrooms, discussions about the work of U.S. diplomats and how the U.S. government engages in global issues are absent from the curriculum. To fill this gap, NMAD has developed educational programming to help students better understand diplomacy. These resources show students that many of the opportunities and challenges before the United States are global in source, scope, and solution. Our signature educational resources are our diplomacy simulations. NMAD’s diplomacy simulations teach students about the work of the U.S. Department of State and the skills and practice of diplomacy as both a concept and a practical set of 21st-century skills. Stepping into the role of diplomats and working in teams, students build rapport with others, present clear arguments, negotiate, find common ground, and compromise to find a potential solution to a real-life historical crisis.

Material Type: Case Study, Lesson Plan, Simulation, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Author: National Museum of American Diplomacy

The Fall of Saigon (1975): The Bravery of American Diplomats and Refugees

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On April 30, 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army, effectively ending the Vietnam War. In the days before, U.S. forces evacuated thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese. American diplomats were on the frontlines, organizing what would be the most ambitious helicopter evacuation in history. The logistics of issuing visas and evacuating these Vietnamese and American citizens were not glamorous but were essential. American diplomats were behind every detail. Some diplomats showed exceptional bravery saving Vietnamese citizens who would have faced persecution under the new regime. These artifacts and photos in our collection offer a glimpse of what diplomats and refugees experienced during the Fall of Saigon. More broadly, they show the challenging and dangerous circumstances diplomats may encounter while performing their work.

Material Type: Case Study, Primary Source, Reading

Author: National Museum of American Diplomacy

Historical Diplomacy Simulation: Barbary Pirates Hostage Crisis - Negotiating Tribute & Trade

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For almost 300 years, leaders of the North African Barbary States hired ship captains to capture foreign ships in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. These captains, known as corsairs, kept the ships and cargo, then ransomed the crew or forced them to work in captivity. This practice was a way for these semi-independent states of the Ottoman Empire to generate money. Some wealthy countries, such as Great Britain, would sign treaties with or make payments to the Barbary States, permitting their merchants to travel the seas freely. These cash payments and preferential trade agreements were called tributes. When the United States gained its independence in 1783, it lost the protection of the British navy, and Barbary corsairs captured two American ships in 1785. As a new nation with limited revenue to support its government, the United States had limited funds to pay tribute and many Americans opposed it on principle. In 1793, Algerine corsairs captured 11 more American ships and 100 citizens, prompting a commercial and humanitarian crisis that could not be ignored. With no navy or substantial annual revenue, how could the United States pay hefty ransom fees and prevent this from happening again? Would the Barbary States even agree to negotiate terms when they clearly had the upper hand?

Material Type: Case Study, Lesson Plan, Simulation

Author: National Museum of American Diplomacy