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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Resolution and Letter to Congress from the Constitutional Convention (Teaching With Documents)


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Lee Ann Potter
The U.S. Constitution is one of the most influential and most enduring constitutions in the world. Two little-known documents from the Constitutional Convention shed light on the Constitution's evolution.

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Picturing Women: Gender, Images, and Representation in Social Studies


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--Christine Woyshner
Photographs and drawings of nineteenth-century dress reformers provide an excellent jumping off point for studying images of women in history.

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Connecting with Our Pioneer Past: Letters from the Homestead


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—Gary Fertig
In the process of creating homestead dioramas and writing letters from the perspective of pioneers, students learn how geography and natural resources affect the economics and social relations of a community.

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Teaching Civics with Primary Source Documents (Teaching with Documents)


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—Lee Ann Potter
Thomas Jefferson was shocked when war veteran Jacob Koontz wrote to him asking for presidential help seven years after Jefferson’s presidential term had ended. A look at Jefferson’s letter noting Koontz’s lack of civic awareness highlights for students the importance of civic literacy.

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Documents and Civic Duties (Teaching with Documents)


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—Lee Ann Potter
A one-sentence letter from school boy Anthony Ferreira to President Ford stating, “I think you are half right and half wrong ” is one of several primary sources featured in this article that highlight for students the value of responsible citizenship.

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Letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Emperor of Japan (Teaching with Documents)


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--Marvin Pinkert and Lee Ann Potter
A letter from President Fillmore plays a key role in overcoming Japan’s “closed country” policy.

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Harriet Jacobs: Using Online Slave Narratives in the Classroom


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--Cheryl Mason Bolick and Meghan M. McGlinn
With digital libraries, valuable documents become readily available, such as the writings of a former slave, Harriet Jacobs, who became an outspoken opponent of slavery.

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Robert E. Lee's Demand for the Surrender of John Brown (Teaching with Documents)


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--Daniel F. Rulli
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry--considered treasonous by some and heroic by others--helped strengthen the anti-slavery movement. Students can gain a deeper understanding of this event by studying General Lee’s demand for Brown’s surrender.

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The First Act of Congress (Teaching with Documents)


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--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.

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The Cherokee Response to Removal


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--National Museum of the American Indian
This lesson plan offers insight into the Cherokee experience during the native group’s forced nineteenth-century relocation by the federal government in what became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

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