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Government

Use the Secrets of Good Lessons to weave what you'll find at the Internet sites below into classroom magic.  If you want, click here to move directly to Election Resources.  For classroomtools lesson ideas useful in Civics/Government classes, click this link.

This superb site will guide you to the online resources the U.S. federal government makes available for kids.  They are grouped K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 and parents and teachers.  You can also see a list of all U.S. government web sites for kids grouped by topic.

This site, a project of the First Amendment Center, provides resources for students and teachers wishing to understand, "teach and practice the civic principles and virtues vital to democracy, freedom and the common good."

Education World offers links for teachers seeking lesson ideas to meet the newly mandated requirement for September 17.

Tweeting the 1787 Constitutional Convention

For Constitution Day 2009, I decided to prepare daily summaries of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and post them on Twitter for any teachers and students wishing to follow along. I began the day the convention opened (May 25), and finished on the day the Constitution was signed and the convention adjourned (September 17). Those wanting to see the Twitter stream may do so at http://twitter.com/philly1787. I based my summaries on James Madison's convention notes, located online at Yale's Goldman Law Library (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp). Since reading a Twitter stream backwards is not always an easy thing to do, I've posted the complete set of tweets (from May 25 through September 17) here.

Constitution Day for Teens

A slide show illustrating the ways in which the Constitution affects all aspects of teen life.

  1. The U.S. Federal Government

  1. Stateline.org - State news and governmental links

     

  2. Historical documents

Public Agenda's guides to help you and your students explore major issues facing the country in this year's presidential election.

Lessons plans and resources from the New York Times.

The President of the US is elected not by the millions of voters who will cast ballots on November 4, but by a majority vote of the 538 members of the Electoral College who will be selected by those millions.  You and your students can follow the status of the race for those votes via these web sites.

All major news organizations have created results tracking sites.  CNN's seems to me to be the best.  Others can be seen at

  1. The Los Angeles Times

  2. The New York Times

  3. The Washington Post

Updated daily, as new state polls are released, this site is chock full of tools that chart the ups and downs of the race for the White House.

Follow the race for this year's magic 270 presidential electoral votes at David Leip's marvelous site.  In addition to features that will enable you and your students to track this year's race, you can access the results of every presidential election since 1789.

This site says, "Every Political Leader on Every Issue".  It appears to mean it.  Here you can examine every 2004 Presidential Candidate on every issue. You can also compare the stances of contestants for various state and national offices within the 50 states.  Lastly, you can pick an issue of interest, then see where candidates and office holders stand.

This project is the work of Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

This contest was sponsored by the Center for Voting and Democracy in 1999.  Here you can read essays written by young people from across the nation as they attempt to answer the question, "Political participation by young people is plummeting. What changes in our electoral system would increase political participation by young people and why is that important to you and people like you?".

Help secure "democracy for the future by involving youth in the election process today."

  1. The Washington Post's Campaign AdWatch 2004

  2. The Washington Post's Campaign Ad Index 2000

  3. The Living Room Candidate

The American Museum of the Moving Image presents a magnificent collection of television ads from the Presidential Campaigns of 1952-2004.  They are available in various streaming video formats, so you should be able to view them without difficulty.  This is a treasure trove. 

For suggestions on how to use these and other examples of propaganda in your classroom, see the Propaganda in the Classroom section of this site.

  1. FactCheck.org

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.  On their web site they say of themselves, 'We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.' They also have a site designed specifically for teachers and students - FactCheckEd.org. This latter site offers:

  1. Frank Baker's Politics and Media site

    Frank Baker introduces this section of his Media Literacy Clearinghouse with the following statement:

    This webpage is devoted primarily to the 30-second campaign "spot;" so common in American elections. The site is designed to provide teachers with the tools they need to introduce political campaign advertising to their students. Another goal is to assist teachers who want to help their students become aware of the unique techniques of persuasion used in these ads.

When you're looking for unbiased and useful information on politicians (voting records, campaign finances, biographies, evaluations by special interest groups, etc.), turn to Project Vote Smart. When you want ideas for using this information in your classroom, turn to their Vote Smart classroom.

If you are looking for a single site from which to keep up with California's ever-changing politics, you couldn't ask for more than Rough and Tumble.   Each day, Jack Kavanagh scans state and national newspapers and puts up links to articles that chart the Golden State's political pulse.

For balanced information on the candidates and measures appearing on your next primary or general election ballot, check out the Smart Voter site.  Put up by the League of Women Voters of California, it currently contains information for many counties in some states, but more will be added as time goes by.  To see what is available for your ballot, type in your street address and zip code (both held in confidence).  In addition to informative links, you'll see the address of your polling place.

Here you'll find lesson plans, puzzles, polls, news, history and more.

  1. MSNBC's Pencil News Election Coverage

  2. Time for Kids Election Connection

If you are interested in first amendment issues, you'll want to take a daily look at the Freedom Forum

Jerry Goldman and Northwestern University have placed online the first group of "Watergate" tapes to be released by the National Archives.  If you have the Real Player browser plug-in installed for your Web browser, you can listen in.  These online recordings are part of the History and Politics Out Loud project.  According to the site, "HPOL is a searchable multimedia database documenting and delivering authoritative audio relevant to American history and politics."  It is definitely worth a look.

  1. What's in today's news
  2. Weekly news magazines

  1. Hot News, Hot Research

Approximately once a week, the Poynter Institute (a school for journalists) posts a hot news topic.  For each, you'll find a list of links to online resources related to that topic.  Point your high school and college students to this site when they need information for current events assignments and projects.  Its archives go back to February 1995.

  1. Intellectual Capital

Essentially a political weekly, this online magazine presented an across the board mix of perspectives.  No longer published, its content was purchased by Speakout.com, and is archived on their web site.

Is is possible that anybody would actually have enacted laws like these, much less that they are still on the books?

The Social Studies School Service sells first rate teaching and learning materials for use in social studies and humanities classrooms.  Their online catalog is much more than a list of what they carry.  It is full of sample activities and links to relevant online resources.  Enjoy!


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original web posting: Saturday, February 12, 2000
last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012