Learning Resources

During the course of our two-year study, we came upon many organizations and institutions that provide information, ideas and materials that should prove useful to those teaching and learning civics.  Below are links to many of them.

  • Constitution Day Lessons

The American Bar Association has put up a section for teachers wanting Constitution Day material. It is located at http://apps.americanbar.org/publiced/constitutionday/all_lessons.shtml

Follow the Twitter stream that Bill Chapman is creating to summarize the daily events of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention. You do not need to have a Twitter account to view the stream, just point your browser tohttp://twitter.com/philly1787 You may view the entire stream in chronological order at http://www.classroomtools.com/philly1787.html

Posted for teachers looking for material to meet the mandated requirement for September 17, this Education World page provides links and ideas useful during the rest of the school year too.

The Center for Civic Education has also posted Constitution Day Lessons for Kindergarten and grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.  These lessons are available at http://new.civiced.org/resources/curriculum/constitution-day-and-citizenship-day

Education World’s Civics and Citizenship Center is also worth some exploration.  In case they are difficult to find, here are links to lesson planning ideas for:

In the results of a survey released on Constitution Day 2007, the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation reports, “Three years after a new federal law took effect requiring schools to educate all students about the Constitution and the First Amendment, a new survey shows that a majority of America’s students aren’t even aware that Constitution Day exists.” Follow this link to their report. A similar survey of adults was conducted by the First Amendment CenterFollow this link to that report.

Based in part on the First Amendment Center‘s report, we’ve posted a PDF Constitution Day designed for presentation to high school students in class or school assemblies. It should also be of use with college students and adult groups – anyone in need of an overview of the role of the Constitution in American life. You may also want to look at Constitution Day 4 Teens which aims for a bit more emotional impact.

A sister site to Factcheck.org, the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania says, “AnnenbergClassroom.org is an educational resource for high school teachers and students. It’s  designed to help students learn to cut through the fog of misinformation and deception that surrounds the many messages they’re bombarded with every day.”

The site offers

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools has developed a variety of tools and resources for those who are working to improve policies and practices related to the civic mission of schools.

Standards linked lessons for students in grades 6-12 that incorporate material from the Times.

Constitutional Rights Foundation seeks to instill in our nation’s youth a deeper understanding of citizenship through values expressed in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights and to educate young people to become active and responsible participants in our society. Their publications andonline lessons areas are worth exploring.

  • Mock Elections

Looking for a 40 minute lesson that teaches the history of voting rights in the U.S., as well includes a mock election simulation? Check out the lesson plan at Vote18.org

The Leagues of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley have created a magnificent Mock Election site to serve the schools, teachers and students in their areas (http://www.mockelection.org/).  Resources they make available will be valuable to teachers and students throughout the state.  Those interested should examine their pages at:

The California Secretary of State’s office conducts student mock elections coordinated with statewide general and some primary elections. Information on the current one should be available at:

Results from previous statewide mock elections are available at:

You may also visit the National Parent-Teacher Mock Election site.

Finally, there is our own Mock Election page, with links to the pages we designed for Albany High School’s 2006 Mock Election, and Berkeley High School’s Mock Presidential Primary in January 2008.

Project Vote Smart‘s suggestions for teachers.

  • Street Law Sites

Street Law is a popular component of some Government classes at Berkeley High School.  To find out what it is and how it might be used, visit these two sites:

This project, founded in 2001, is “a national initiative designed to help schools affirm First Amendment principles and put them into action throughout their communities.

This site, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, provides ideas for teachers wanting to teach the First Amendment.  It also provides three reasons for them to do so:

  • Three-fourths of high school students don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment, or take it for granted.
  • Nearly half believe the government can censor the Internet.
  • One-third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.

This site, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, seeks to hold politicians accountable.  It fact checks political ads from around the nation, letting citizens know the results in easy to read, accessible language.  As former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

Frank Baker introduces his website 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. 

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 material such as this in the classroom, take a look at the Propaganda in the Classroom section of Bill Chapman’s Classroomtools.com.

For many Civics and Social Studies related links at my site, check the pages I’ve set up for resources related to:

Rock the Vote, founded nearly twenty years ago in response to a wave of attacks on freedom of speech and artistic expression, coordinates voter registration drives, get out the vote events, and voter education efforts — all with the intention of building political power for our nation’s youth.

Two must view sections of this site:

The following statement is from the Center’s web site:

The mission of the Center for Civic Education is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries.

The principal goals of the Center’s programs are to help students develop (1) an increased understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they are founded, (2) the skills necessary to participate as effective and responsible citizens, and (3) the willingness to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.


The following statement by Thomas Jefferson expresses the Center’s rationale and goals.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.”

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids is brought to the World Wide Web as a service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Ben’s Guide serves as the educational component of GPO Access, GPO’s service to provide the official online version of legislative and regulatory information.

This site provides learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities. And, just as GPO Accessprovides locator services to U.S. Government sites, Ben’s Guide provides a similar service to U.S. Government Web sites developed for kids.

Here you’ll find a growing library of resources to assist teachers and students of American History.