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History Teacher Resources
Find teacher approved History educational resource ideas and activities
Compare and contrast old and modern historical accounts of the life of Thomas Jefferson. Learners begin by evaluating the responsibilities of history textbooks in reporting historical events, people, and eras. Next, they discuss how new information should be used to enhance the information contained in standard texts. This exercise could be used as a critical thinking activity for your class.
Explore US history with your charges by providing age-appropriate Black History Month activities. (Five options are provided with this resource.) Read biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Rosa Parks and other recommended (and linked) texts as a way to learn about African-American history in-depth. Finish by conducting a class discussion about race and equality in America.
Begin this powerful study on the Guatemalan genocide with a nine-minute video clip, which can be easily found online. The excerpt introduces the class to this tragedy through a personal account, which is what they will be collecting. Discussion questions following the clip drive scholars to deeper thinking about oral histories and justice, and they view a website dedicated to keeping memories of victims alive (linked). Learners then interview Guatemalans or other members of their community, collecting oral histories and reflecting on the experience. Another site offers guidance for this process.
Although the article that launches this lesson is about the history of the Periodic Table, the objective is reading comprehension. Using the eight-page informational text, learners answer five comprehension questions and craft one essay. They utilize text features such as headings and graphics to more efficiently move through the questions, and mark the text as they read to note important facts. This is also a great way to teach vocabulary in context and text features. The reading is not difficult or long.
Helpful for an American literature or history unit, this lesson prompts middle schoolers to examine slavery in the United States. They read slave narratives that were part of the Federal Writers' Project and then conduct their own research on slavery in the nation. After, they write descriptive stories that reflect what they learned in their research.
Journal writing can be a fun way to bring history to life. Upper graders read a series of journals from the time of the westward expansion, specifically the pioneer journey along the Oregon Trail. They compose an ongoing journal from the perspective of a person traveling west. This project could produce a very interesting final paper.
With the comprehensive resource presented here, examine the history of barbed wire, its impact on the Old West, and resulting conflicts between farmers and ranchers. Learners read informational text as well the Cole Porter song "Don't Fence Me In," and answer comprehension questions. They also complete a barbed wire geometry worksheet. Related P.E. activities, relevant vocabulary, and a cowboy poem are included. Then, hold a debate in which pupils role-play either ranchers or farmers.
Are we really all that different from people in the past? First, learners of all ages write an autobiographical poem. Then, they research the lives of historical figures. They use the same format that they used to write their own poem to create one for a famous person in history. Are we really so different from them?
Examine ways in which historic places and landmarks represent significant themes and events in American history. Then create theme-based travel guides for related historic locations. This lesson requires informational reference materials and includes great discussion questions and extension activities.
Third graders work in groups to study Michigan's natural resources. They will make a timeline of events in Michigan history, research one natural resource, and create a multimedia presentation for the class. Note: Depending on how technologically savvy your class is, you may want to wait on this project until the second half of the school year.