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Digital Blackboard

This feature provides successful Web-based assignments—some we have developed ourselves, others developed by the Library of Congress and the National Archives—as practical models for integrating new media into the classroom. Browse through the full list below or go to our full search feature that allows you to quickly locate assignments by topic, time period, or keyword. Read our guidelines for information on submitting your own lesson plan.

There are 97 matching records, sorted by time period. Displaying matches 1 through 30 .


digital blackboard
Picturing a Nation: Native Americans and Visual Representation
Bret Eynon and Donna Thompson, American Social History Project.
In this activity you will examine and explore images of Native American culture and history. Many of the images are found in private archival collections or public museums located across the United States. Drawing from the resources found on two sites, you will construct a visual essay that illustrates the Native American experience and helps you to think about how Native American expressive culture is interpreted and what features of Native culture are uniquely “American.”
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
The Conservation Movement at a Crossroads: the Hetch Hetchy Controversy
American Memory, Library of Congress; Michael Federspiel; and Timothy Hall.
This page offers two exercises related to the early conservation movement. The first introduces students to some historically significant leaders, thinkers, and artists through selections from their writings and art. In the second lesson students will explore the controversy surrounding the city of San Francisco’s request to turn the Hetch Hetchy Valley into a water reservoir to meet its increasing needs. (The Hetch Hetchy was a part of Yosemite National Park.) Students will explore the divisions this controversy exposed within the conservation movement by using teacher-selected documents and text representative of both sides of the debate along with actual records of the Congressional hearings held to decide the valley’s fate. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Reservation Controversies
American Memory, Library of Congress; Peter Milbury; and Brett Silva.
This exercise covers historic issues dealing with American Indian Reservations in the 1870s and also in the present. It is divided into two sections with separate “scenarios” for the students. This is is a two part experience using Problem Based Learning , in which the student is confronted or faced with two different, but related real world problems which have no preconceived right or wrong answers. Using various teaching/learning strategies, which include brainstorming, role playing, and oral presentations, the students access primary sources and other background sources to arrive at a recommendation, based on the information. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
To Market To Market
American Memory, Library of Congress; Jane Hoover; and Linda C. Joseph.
This project investigates and examines the impact transportation has had on peoples’ lives. We chose to compare and contrast the turn of the centuries. This lesson introduces primary documents, specifically visuals. We intend for this activity to be used across grade levels and provide a basic framework that is adaptable. We intentionally left out a lot of specifics so that students would critically think about and come up with questions and ideas on their own for more in-depth study. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
The Historian’s Sources
American Memory, Library of Congress.
Students learn about different types of primary sources used by historians and other scholars. Students practice analyzing primary sources by focusing on documents about slavery in the United States before the Civil War. The Social Science Education Consortium (SSEC) developed this sample lesson for the Library of Congress. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Port of Entry: Immigration
American Memory, Library of Congress.
This lesson highlights the immigrant experience in American life. Students assume the role of historical detective and travel back in time to the turn of the century. As historical detectives, they search for clues to the past in images and primary source documents from five American Memory collections. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Lincoln’s Spot Resolutions
Archival documents and teaching activities offer teachers and students opportunities to examine the issues surrounding the Mexican War. These materials are from the National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA) website.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Constitutional Issues: Watergate and the Constitution
A 1974 memorandum from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force weighs the pros and cons of seeking an indictment against former President Richard Nixon. These materials are from the National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA) website.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
All History Is Local: Students as Archivists
American Memory, Library of Congress; Neal Gibson; and George West.
This project—which can last for a few weeks, a semester, or an entire year—requires students to choose historical topics; collect primary source materials from their families or local communities; and analyze them within the context of the interplay of national, state, local, and personal history. Students delve into their topics via traditional print sources as well and gain a broader sense of historiography that informs their collection and analysis of primary sources. Finally, students build Web sites using the primary sources they have collected and their interpretations of them. This site includes detailed lists of online resources, samples and worksheets, and a lesson-by-lesson breakdown of steps to follow, providing an easy to follow model for teachers and students in other places to create local history “Memory Projects” of their own.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
New York Times Daily Lesson Plan and Archive
New York Times and Bank Street College of Education.
See JAH web review by Arnold Pulda.
Reviewed 2002-03-01.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Art and the Shaping of Identity
Sue Luftschein and David Jaffee .
This activity, developed as part of the Learning to Look Faculty Development program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, explores how art and the discourses surrounding its production and presentation participate in the shaping of a wide range of identities. The activity asks students to work in pairs to choose images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Web site and act as curators of an art exhibit on American identity. Students will grapple with and justify their choices as they consider larger questions of how art shapes ideas about American identity.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
George Washington: Images of History
Sue Luftschein and David Jaffee .
This activity, developed as part of the Learning to Look Faculty Development program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, asks students to consider how artists’ depictions of George Washington have shaped perceptions of “the father of our country” in different eras. The activity requires students to read about Washington; view a variety of images of him; choose a selection of those images; and prepare a written or oral presentation about how an immigrant in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century U.S. might have perceived the nation’s first president based on the images chosen.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Life on the Great Plains
Edsitement: The Best of the Humanities on the Web.
This lesson provides four components that can be used, singly or in any combination, to teach about the western United States. The first two activities ask students to consider how the Great Plains region has been mapped and to engage in creating their own maps and informational brochures. The third activity involves an examination of different written descriptions of the region over time, and the fourth requires students to consider the contributions of two different cultural groups to the region. Because these activities emphasize how the idea of a region is created and reproduced, they could be adapted to the study of other regions.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Scripting the Past: Exploring Women’s History Through Film
Edsitement: The Best of the Humanities on the Web.
This innovative project asks students to examine a figure in women’s history through the lens of filmmaking, writing a screenplay based on an autobiographical narrative and their own research into the time period in which that autobiography is set. The lesson provides several autobiographical narratives, and students choose one as the basis for their film script. Students then conduct library and Internet research to create “Period Portfolios” to establish the look and texture of the time period in which their film will be set; they also develop character profiles and story elements. While this version of the lesson uses women’s history and results in a full screenplay, it is easily adaptable to other topics and can result in a scene and/or treatment rather than a fully realized screenplay.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Native-American Creation Stories
Paula Petrik.
This module features creation stories from various Native American groups. Students are asked to read the stories and think about how Europeans influenced Native American thought or altered the retelling of these stories.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Indentured Servitude
Paula Petrik.
This module allows students to explore the hardships of indentured servants in 17th-century Virginia. It features an indentured servant’s letter to his parents and an “Indentured Servant’s Confession,” published in 1684.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
In Congress Assembled: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States
American Memory, Library of Congress.
This teaching unit, comprised of four lessons, focuses on the Constitution, Congress, and current events using documents from THOMAS (the Library of Congress’s online legislative information) and the Documents of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774–1789, an American Memory collection. This lesson is from Library of Congress American Memory site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Constitution Day
This site offers several lessons related to the signing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution as well as background information on the signers and the ratification process. These materials are from the National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA) website.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Boston Massacre, 1770
Paula Petrik.
This module asks students to examine an 18th-century drawing that depicts the Boston Massacre, and asks questions that help students interpret the image.
Resources Available: IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Runaway from Freedom
Michael O’Malley.
This module provides background information on different types of bonded servitude in 18th-century Virginia. Students are asked to research runaway slave advertisements and use an Excel spreadsheet to analyze their data.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Society of Patriotic Women at Edenton, North Carolina [1774]
Paula Petrik.
This module uses an 18th-century British cartoon to explore British attitudes about the American Revolution.
Resources Available: IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Voices of the American Revolution
Edsitement: The Best of the Humanities on the Web.
This lesson guides students in making informed analyses of primary documents that illustrate the diversity of religious, political, social, and economic motives behind competing perspectives on questions of independence and rebellion during the American Revolution. Students confront a variety of interesting primary documents, such as a sermon about the nature of rebellion, an allegory worked in needlepoint, and a petition by a group of slaves to the governor of Massachusetts Bay colony. The strength of this lesson is in the historical evidence it presents, and it is designed with several possible outcomes, including a point-counterpoint debate, group research, and essay writing.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
“The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian’s Rural Enlightenment”
Journal of American History (John Fea).
This article and accompanying resources focus on the life of Philip Vickers Fithian, a prolific diarist, to help students understand the meaning of the Enlightenment for ordinary Americans in the eighteenth century. Part of a Journal of American History site that is designed to bridge the gap between the latest scholarly research in U.S. history and the practice of classroom teaching, this installment contains the original Journal of American History article, comments from the author about teaching the article’s subject; five exercises for students; transcripts and images for over 300 pages from Fithian’s papers, including letters and journal entries; and references for further reading.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Women in the Oneida Community
The Oneida Community, founded near Syracuse, New York in 1848, was a utopian community that advocated such social and religious practices as the exclusion of private property, communal responsibility, complex marriage, mutual criticism, and communal child rearing. Although many outsiders perceived these practices as immoral and unacceptable for women, those within the community found them personally liberating. This activity asks students to read letters, diary entries, and excerpts from a community publication to consider whether or not the Oneida community’s redefinition of gender roles afforded women a degree of autonomy. After reading and analyzing the primary documents, students write a short essay about Oneida and its critique of conventional society. This activity comes from the Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775–2000 Web site.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
The Amistad Case
Documents related to the circuit court and Supreme Court cases involving the Amistad and suggestions for teaching activities. These materials are from the National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA) website.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Catherine Beecher’s American Home
Paula Petrik.
This module uses Catherine Beecher as a way to explore how social ideas affect the built environment. Students look at a diagram of a typical 19th-century American home to explore social and family life.
Resources Available: IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Checkered Game of Life
Paula Petrik.
Games in the 19th century were often used to teach gender roles, morality, and social customs. This module asks students to look at some games and discuss their purposes based on the images, language, and shape of the games.
Resources Available: IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Women and Equality
Michael O’Malley.
This module examines the movement for women’s equality in the 19th century and the historical context surrounding the movement. Students search for information related to women and equality in the Making of America database and answer questions in light of the documents they locate.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

digital blackboard
Talk Show on the Lowell Strike of 1834 or 1836
John P. Spencer, American Social History Project.
In this activity, students work in small groups to read primary documents that reflect a variety of viewpoints on the 1834 and 1836 labor strikes by young female factory workers in Lowell, Massachusetts. They then plan and act out a five to seven minute “talk show” airing the issues raised by their reading of the historical sources. Designed for high school students, this activity can be supplemented by (but does not require) students viewing the 30-minute American Social History Project documentary Daughters of Free Men.
Resources Available: TEXT.

digital blackboard
Utilizing the Registers of Free Blacks For the City of Staunton and Augusta County, Virginia, 1803–1864
Carl Schulkin.
This activity is designed to teach the process of analyzing primary sources and enrich students’ knowledge of the daily lives of free African Americans in the antebellum South.
Resources Available: TEXT.