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ALEX Lesson Plans


Subject: Character Education (K - 12), or Social Studies (7 - 12)
Title: Famous Failures
Description: The students are shown a video of "Famous Failures" which provides examples of famous people who failed many times prior to becoming successful. The students are encouraged to discuss the different people in the video and are asked to think about the famous person's contributions. Was Walt Disney's impact greater than Henry Ford's? The students then (teacher facilitated) list the ten famous people they would put on a “Top 10 list." This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.


Subject: Social Studies (2 - 10)
Title: UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, ROUTE TO FREEDOM
Description: This activity will require the teacher and student to travel throughout the school and its buildings as they travel the underground railroad. As they travel they will stop at safe houses, rest and eat before they proceed finally crossing the Ohio River to freedom.


Thinkfinity Lesson Plans


Subject: Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - United States History
Title: John Brown and the Underground Railroad      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students analyze John Brown's attitudes and actions against slavery. They then compare Brown's views with those of other people who were active in the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement. They write journal entries pretending they are Underground Railroad conductors who have adopted John Brown's values and tactics. They write additional paragraphs explaining whether they think they would have been more in agreement with Brown or with pacifist abolitionists.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: National Archives and Records Administration      Add Bookmark
Description: NARA makes available to the public the historically valuable records of the three branches of federal government: executive (including the President), legislative, and judicial. National Archives holdings include textual; audiovisual; cartographic and architectural; and electronic records.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Lincoln at 200      Add Bookmark
Description: This website, produced by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Chicago History Museum, is part of the bicentennial celebration of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The site features 2 exhibitions about Lincoln and searchable database of objects. A Museums and the Web Best of the Web Award nominee, this site is an outstanding place for students to view background and primary source resources regarding Lincoln.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Digital History      Add Bookmark
Description: This website is a comprehensive set of web based resources and activities suitable for students at every grade level. Produced through a collaborative partnership including the National Park Service, the University of Houston, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Chicago Historical Society, t he site features a digital textbook with hypertext links, virtual exhibits featuring letters, artwork and artifacts, an interactive timeline, a collection of e-lectures, inquiry based learning units, and an extensive collection of online resources like maps, charts, and primary sources.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: New York Divided      Add Bookmark
Description: This website, from the New York Historical Society, is a collection of two special exhibitions focused on slavery in antebellum New York. Both sites offer students interpretation of the people, places, and documents that define New York's experience with slavery, culminating in New York's role in the Civil War.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: United States Cent, 1974 (aluminum)      Add Bookmark
Description: This one-cent piece from 1974 is perfectly normal-except for one thing. It was struck in aluminum rather than bronze. Lincoln's bust graces the obverse, just as it has done for over ninety-five years. And the Lincoln Memorial appears on the reverse, just as it has since the closing years of the Eisenhower Administration. The choice of aluminum over bronze is what makes this coin legendary. How did it happen, and why?
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Cotton Gin Video      Add Bookmark
Description: In this video, students will see both long-staple and short-staple cotton fibers processed in a roller gin and saw gin model similar to that patented by Eli Whitney, to better understand the impact of the cotton gin on cotton production in the U.S. Short staple cotton, with short fibers that stick to the seeds inside, was the type of cotton grown in most of the American south. This video does not include sound, but can be used with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation resource packet, http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/whole_cloth/index.html" Whole Cloth .
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Battle Over Reconstruction      Add Bookmark
Description: This curriculum unit of three lessons examines the social, political and economic conditions of the southern states in the aftermath of the Civil War and shows how these factors helped to shape the Reconstruction debate as well as the subsequent history of American race relations.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Language Arts,Social Studies,Religion
Title: TeacherServe      Add Bookmark
Description: This site, from the National Humanities Center, offers teacher guides that provide balanced perspectives on a range of humanities topics. It is an interactive site offering high school English and history teachers practical help in planning courses and presenting rigorous subject matter to students. It is designed to deepen course content by providing convenient access to scholarship tailored to classroom use.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Slave Shackles      Add Bookmark
Description: In the 15th century, decades before they sailed into the Caribbean, Spanish merchants, captains, and adventurers had already conquered and enslaved the people of the Canary Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. On the western coast of continental Africa, the Portuguese had been cultivating a slavery-based economic policy. This legacy of conquest and slavery shaped the colonization of Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean. Some of the first American encounters between Europeans, Indians, and Africans took place in Puerto Rico, and its early history of genocidal violence and physical exploitation was repeated throughout the Americas.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms      Add Bookmark
Description: This EDSITEment-reviewed Web site, from the Newberry Library, provides historically significant map documents for K-12 teachers and their students. Illustrating the geographical dimensions of American history, the maps are accompanied by lesson plans written for four grade levels and designed to support a variety of social studies, history and geography curricula.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Preparing for the Oath: The 1800s      Add Bookmark
Description: Explore the history of America in the 1800s through short videos, mini-activities, and practice questions in this segment of Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship. The eight questions included in this segment cover topics such as the Civil War, slavery, the Louisiana Purchase, and Susan B. Anthony.This site was designed with the needs of recent immigrants in mind. It is written at a low-intermediate ESL level.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Preparing for the Oath: A Growing Nation      Add Bookmark
Description: Explore the history of the peopling of America through short videos, mini-activities, and practice questions in this segment of Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship. The eight questions included in this segment cover topics such as American Indians, British colonists, slavery, westward expansion, and immigration.This site was designed with the needs of recent immigrants in mind. It is written at a low-intermediate ESL level.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Extraordinary Evidence      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson plan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, students will review an online exhibition, conduct historical research using artifacts and primary source documents, and develop group presentations that discuss ways that Abraham Lincoln's life was extraordinary. This lesson plan is one of the resources connected with the online exhibition entitled "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life'' .
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Arts,Language Arts,Religion,Science,Social Studies,Geography
Title: Encyclopedia of Alabama      Add Bookmark
Description: A free, authoritative source information about the history, politics, geography, and culture of the state of Alabama; updated regularly to ensure that the content is accurate and accessible. The editors are continually adding new entries, photographs, and maps, so check back frequently to see what's new.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: C1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Civil War      Add Bookmark
Description: From 1861-1865, Americans battled over preserving their Union and ending slavery. The Civil War is the focus of this section of The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, an online exhibition. This pivotal and complicated period of American history is divided into sections that allow students to focus either on a specific aspect of the war, or the conflict as a whole. The sections included are: John Brown, Fort Sumter, the Battle of Bull Run, major turning points, the war at sea, Wilderness to Appomattox, political leaders, military leaders, soldiers in blue and gray; battles and casualties and Reconstruction and the legacies of the war. A non-flash version of this site is available: http://americanhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/printable/section.asp?id=5" The Civil War .
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: John Brown's Legacy      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, students will examine primary sources to understand John Brown's actions in Harpers Ferry and will develop a creative project on his legacy. This resource was produced to accompany the exhibition The Price of Freedom: Americans at War , by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Antebellum Army      Add Bookmark
Description: West Pointers helped lay the groundwork for America's economic development, intellectual growth and territorial expansion in the years before the Civil War. Using objects, images and short biographical sketches, this section of the online exhibition entitled "West Point in the Making of America'' , from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, teaches students how West Point Graduates played a major role in westward expansion and the development of the nation's transportation network and advances in technology between 1802 and 1860.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies,Geography
Title: U.S.-Mexican War      Add Bookmark
Description: This PBS site tells the dramatic story of a war in which Mexico lost almost half of its national territory to the United States.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Arts,Social Studies
Title: NYPL Digital Schomburg Images of 19th Century African-Americans      Add Bookmark
Description: Sponsored by the New York Public Library, this site contains an extensive primary source archive of photographs, woodcuts, and other images of 19th century African-Americans from the Schomburg Collection.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: C1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Sam Houston's Hunting Knife      Add Bookmark
Description: Sam Houston emerged as a prominent player in the affairs of Texas. Houston was elected commander in chief of the armies of Texas and took control of the Texas forces after the fall of the Alamo. On April 21, 1836, his force defeated Santa Anna and secured Texas independence. Houston was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas. After statehood in 1845, Houston was elected senator from Texas to the Congress of the United States.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Abraham Lincoln, the 1860 Election, and the Future of the American Union and Slavery      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, one of a multi-part unit from EDSITEment, students explore the wide-ranging debate over American slavery by presenting the lives of its leading opponents and defenders and the views they held about America's peculiar institution. Students identify influential opponents and defenders of American slavery and compare their respective biographies, explain the reasons given for and against the morality and legitimacy of slavery under the U.S. Constitution, and articulate an economic argument in favor of slavery and an opposing argument on behalf of free labor.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: An Early Threat of Secession: The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Nullification Crisis      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, one of a multi-part unit from EDSITEment, students explore the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Nullification Crisis, which occurred a decade later. Students learn how the controversies over slavery's expansion and federal tariffs further entrenched the dividing line between northern and southern interests.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies,Geography
Title: Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition      Add Bookmark
Description: Annotated journals of Lewis and Clark during their expedition. Images, maps, and audio readings of scholarship on Lewis and Clark.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: C1,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: On the Eve of War: North vs. South      Add Bookmark
Description: This lesson will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the North and South on the eve of the war.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: History Now      Add Bookmark
Description: This EDSITEment-reviewed Web site, from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, is a quarterly online journal for teachers and students. The site features lesson plans, reflections from leading historians, multimedia interactive resources such as audio clips and slideshows and an '' Ask the Archivist'' section where teachers and students can send questions and see the answers posted on the site. Users can find information on Abraham Lincoln, national holidays, elections, voting rights, immigration, the American West, slavery, abolitionism and the Civil Rights Movement.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Samuel Slater's Spinning Wheel      Add Bookmark
Description: This 48-spindle spinning machine, the oldest piece of cotton machinery in America, was built by Samuel Slater, and first operated by him on December 20, 1790, at Pawtucket, Rhode Island. One hundred years later, 1890, it was lent to the city of Pawtucket for exhibition at the Cotton Centenary, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of cotton spinning by power machinery on the Western Hemisphere, and yarn was spun on it by an old man who had tended the spinning frame in the 'Old Slater Mill' when he was a boy. In 1876, it was exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, and in 1885, was lent by the National Museum for exhibition at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans. Presented by the Rhode Island Society For The Encouragement of Domestic Industry.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: Popular Sovereignty and the Political Polarization over Slavery      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, one of a multi-part unit from EDSITEment, students explore the wide-ranging debate over American slavery by presenting the lives of its leading opponents and defenders and the views they held about America's peculiar institution. Students identify influential opponents and defenders of American slavery and compare their respective biographies, explain the reasons given for and against the morality and legitimacy of slavery under the U.S. Constitution, and articulate an economic argument in favor of slavery and an opposing argument on behalf of free labor.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Price of Freedom: Learning Resources      Add Bookmark
Description: Included in this collection of learning resources connected with the online exhibition entitled "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War'' , are "Who Am I? A History Mystery'' , an interactive game in which students select a mystery character from the Civil War and examine objects that hold the key to their identity, and a teacher's manual that contains fifteen classroom activities for students in grades 5-12. National Museum of American History
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Belt Revolver      Add Bookmark
Description: The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 allowed the two states to decide the issue of slavery by a popular ballot. The fight in Kansas was so intense that the state earned the nickname Bleeding Kansas. John Brown bought 2,000 of these revolvers and sent them to Kansas for the Free-Soilers.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - United States History
Title: The Great Plains: A Harsh Welcome to Settlers      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students consider the experiences of settlers on the American Great Plains in the late 1800s. They explore the ways in which humans use technology to overcome obstacles in the physical environment.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 9,10,11,12



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