NCSS Online Teachers' Library

NCSS has selected a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection, or search by historical period and grade level using the search function below.
(Collections on other disciplines are under development.)

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Slavery and Free Markets: Relationships between Economic Institutions


--Mark C. Schug
This look at the contradictions between economic freedom and slavery provides a comprehensive view of the institution of slavery in world and American history.
* http://www.socialstudies.org/system/files/publications/se/7702/77021382.pdf

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Was the Constitution Pro-Slavery? The Changing View of Frederick Douglass


By Robert Cohen
Many have questioned whether the document on which our nation is based sanctioned slavery. But renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who originally condemned the Constitution, came to view it in a much different light.

Related:

Frederick Douglass Changed My Mind about the Constitution


By James Oakes
Like Frederick Douglass, this historian had originally viewed the Constitution as pro-slavery. Yet a close look at Douglass’s writings revealed a Constitution that empowered the federal government to abolish slavery.

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Rough Journal Page Documenting Ratification and Final Page of the Treaty of Paris, 1783 (Teaching with Documents)


By Lee Ann Potter
The featured documents highlight for students the significance of the Treaty of Paris, not only in ending the Revolutionary War, but also in transforming British North America.

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Letters from George Washington and Samuel Cabble, and Speeches by Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy


By Lee Ann Potter
Students will grapple with what it means to “embrace the future” when they study primary documents related to four noteworthy individuals who embraced the future in distinct ways.

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Telling Tales:The Teaching of American History through Storytelling


—Tony R. Sanchez and Randy K. Mills
Teachers can relate the excitement, paradox, and importance of American history to students by conveying the challenges of life in the past with stories. [John Adams, in court, defends British soldiers after the Boston Massacre. Abigail Adams, speaking to her neighbor, defends the right of James Prince--an African American--to attend the local school.]

Related:

Virginia’s New Hamster: A Thirteen States Mnemonic


Nancy L. Gallenstein
This humorous short story assists students in memorizing the original 13 states of the Union in 1776.

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The First Act of Congress (Teaching with Documents)


--Lee Ann Potter
In the early days of this nation, Congress considered numerous acts as it established the laws of the land. Yet the first ever act of Congress concerned an oath to support the Constitution.

Related:

OurDocuments.gov (Teaching with Documents)


—Lee Ann Potter
A newly launched project highlights one hundred landmark documents—such as the United States Constitution, Thomas Edison’s electric lamp patent, and the canceled check for Alaska—that have influenced the course of U.S. history. Here’s how to integrate these documents into classroom instruction.

Related:

Symbols of Democracy: An Introduction to Icons and Ideals


--Jackie Kofsky and Barb Morris
Lessons introduce K-3 students to key symbols of our country. (And see following Pullout.)

Pullout, "Four U.S. Symbol of Democracy," by the same authors, gives a brief history of -- and activities to learn about -- the Stars and Stripes, The Pledge of Allegiance, The Liberty Bell, and The Statue of Liberty.

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