Grades 9 - 12 Resources

13 Best Websites and Games for US History and Civics: CommonSense

Sometimes, the history that students learn about in textbooks is boiled down to key events and dates. These great websites and games let them explore tricky topics from different perspectives and walk a mile in the shoes of important decision makers. Use them to help your students look back in time -- or at current events -- in a whole new way.

American Bar Association

Resource guide on how to organize a Civics and Law Academy, which engages middle and high school students in learning about law and society.

American Presidency Project

This website features primary documents on all aspects of the American presidency, including a searchable database of executive orders, transcripts of inaugural addresses, and presidential papers.

Annenberg Classroom: Best Civics Sites for Teachers

An annotated list of websites for the social studies teacher who wants to review the most relevant resources for curriculum development or wants to direct studentsto authoritative sites for research.

Bill of Rights Institute

Educator and student resources at this site consist of a multitude of primary source documents, an "Americapedia" which includes a list of civic values with concise definitions and connections to related topics, interactive games, short explanatory videos, and Smartboard lessons. The Bill of Rights Institute sponsors a "We the Students" Scholarship Contest in the Fall and offers support for interested teachers and students, as well as ongoing professional development workshops in several cities, including Boston.

Center for Civics

The Center for Civic Education has links to a wide variety of free lesson plans, as well as the Project Citizen and Civitas Programs, as well as its premier program: We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution, with texts and materials available at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. Most of the lessons are appropriate for grades 7-12, but some of the ideas listed under More Lesson Plans are suitable for grades K-6.

Citizens Count

Citizens Count is a nonprofit that provides the people of New Hampshire with the tools and information they need to make a difference. They research and profile every candidate for state or federal office in the Granite State.  They make it easy to learn what's happening with key issues, from gun rights and drug policy to health care and renewable energy. They build connections between people and their elected officials, helping them share their story and make an impact. They do it all without any bias or agenda, because they believe that democracy works best when we all have a seat at the table.

Civics 101 Podcasts

Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how the U.S. government works, hosted by Hannah McCarthy and Nick Capodice.

Constitutional Rights Foundation

The Constitutional Rights Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit community-based organization that focuses on law and government and civic participation by young people. Its site pulls together resources for curriculum and professional development.

Crash Course in Government

The Crash Course team has produced more than 15 courses to date, and these videos accompany high school and college level classes ranging from the humanities to the sciences. Crash Course transforms the traditional textbook model by presenting information in a fast-paced format, enhancing the learning experience.

C-SPAN Classroom

This website provides lesson plans as well as audio and video clips on topics related to the United States government, its structure, and its history. Teachers must register to access the resources and links to oral history interviews with past presidents, Supreme Court oral arguments, and an interactive Supreme Court timeline.

Dirksen Congressional Center

Features include Congress for Kids, aimed at helping elementary school children understand their government, the Constitution, and voting; an interactive Congressional Timeline; and an online civics course entitled Congress in the Classroom.

Dream of a Nation

High school teachers can sign up to get free digital resources including essays and lessons with worksheets and project ideas at this website.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities.

Exploring Community Responsibility: The Web of My Community

In an interactive exercise students create an actual web of community resources that introduces concepts of citizenship and responsibilities of local government.

First Amendment Center

Lesson plans, podcasts, and an interactive glossary are provided on this website, which focuses on First Amendment issues in the Courts and Congress and the relevance of the five individual freedoms that make up the First Amendment.

Gilder Lehrman

Now celebrating its twenty-fifth year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

Habits of Mind

The place to begin exploring how the Habits of Mind, skillful and mindful problem solving dispositions, are being practiced in schools throughout the world.

Harlan Institute

A Supreme Court “Fantasy League” for high school students is available through this website, which also features lesson plans about cases pending before the high court. 

iCivics AP US Government and Politics

Created by a team of veteran AP Gov. teachers and content experts from iCivics and Study Edge, this online, on-demand course is designed to support teachers and students alike as they navigate the newly-designed AP course and exam. Our course includes over 100 videos and accompanying study guides that break down all of the essential content, making it more accessible for all learners. 

iCivics: Teacher this way!

Enter through the "Teacher this Way!" portal to make the best use of the site. Grade 5-12 teachers can choose their state, course or topic, and grade to narrow down the extensive lesson plans available. Interactive games and well designed Web Quests will engage 5th grade students in some compelling learning modules. Go back to the home page to access"Drafting Board" a powerful interactive tool that leads students through the process of developing a clearly argued persuasive essay on a variety of Social Studies topics. Get the most out of this site by creating a login for your class.

Indiana University - Engaging Congress Game

Engaging Congress is a FREE, fun, interactive game that uses primary source documents to explore the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.

Integrating the Habits of Mind

Terry Heick, a Social Learning Facilitator at Institute for Habits of Mind, offers a brief explanation and concise description of the 16 Habits of Mind.

Kids Voting USA

Kids Voting USA is a nonpartisan, grassroots-driven voter education program committed to creating lifelong voting habits in children, increasing family communication about citizenship, and encouraging greater adult voter turnout.

Law for Kids

Options for every learner, at any age wherever in the world they may be. Download activities for youth to complete and learn about civics education.  Access available resources, information and organizations who help kids.

Library of Congress

Lesson plans on American history are supplemented with primary sources from the Library of Congress collection. Class starters include Today in History and American Memory Timeline. Interactive learning activities are available for younger children, and professional development programs for teachers are offered.

Living Room Candidate

Interactive lesson plans at this site coordinate with a collection of videos of political campaign advertisements from 1952-present. The resources provide opportunities for students to compare and analyze campaign advertising trends over time.

National Archives

A series of lesson plans that use primary sources to teach about different periods of U.S. history and the Constitution. This site also provides links to state and regional primary sources and presidential libraries, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers.

National Center for State Courts

A series of three graphic novels to educate the public and students about how the courts work and their role in a democratic society. The novels address internet piracy, stolen identity, and jury duty. They may be downloaded online, or are available for purchase with accompanying lesson plans.

National Conference of State Legislators

NCSL is proud to offer a wide variety of resources for state legislators and staff, who are the face of state government for most of their constituents.

National Constitution Center

Topics related to the Constitution, civic participation, and the Executive Branch are addressed in lesson plans, online resources, and interactive games. Also featured is The Exchange, a public forum for high school students to share ideas about current events.

National Constitution Center: Video Resources

An award-winning video lesson series produced by the National Constitution Center.

National Endowment for the Humanities

Lesson plans aimed at students K-12 cover topics ranging from presidential families to the judicial power of the Supreme Court to trial by jury as a right and as a political institution. Also covered are the Document-Based Questions in the Advanced Placement Exam for U.S. History.

New Hampshire Bar Association Law Related Education

A site focused on NH curriculum and resources about law, the legal system and the fundamental principles upon which our constitutional democracy is based. Activities are intended to foster partnerships between NH schools and attorneys who volunteer their time foreducational purposes. Most of the resources and programs are for middle and high school teachers, but several exercises are designed to introduce concepts of law and justice in the lower elementary grades. Fourth grade teachers who are teaching NH history might also find some helpful information.

New York Times Learning Network: Civics

A collection of current and past New York Times articles with comprehensive lessons plans is available at this website. Useful for adding Common Core "informational text" to the high school Social Studies curriculum.

NH Curriculum Frameworks: Social Studies

An outline the official NH Social Studies Standards with a list of resources and alink to information about professional development opportunities.

North Carolina Civic Education Consortium

A well organized, searchable database of lessons and activities classified by courses or grade level (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) and by clearly defined topics. Lessons include NC State Standards, but teachers can easily substitute NH State Civics Standards. The lessons (grades 5-12) include detailed procedures that make them easy to implement. Many of the K - 5 activities correlate with Responsive Classroom and Habits of Mind curricula.

OYEZ

Recordings, written summaries, and a searchable database of Supreme Court cases since 1955 are available through this site, which provides the tools for high school students to do primary research and for teachers to gather concise information for teaching American case law.

PBS Learning Media - Civics and Government

Resources located under Civics and Government focus on the relationships between governments and individuals, and international relations. Classrooms can explore videos to compare the Magna Carta and the United States Constitution, examine an interactive map to study United States diplomatic relationships across the globe, or create a document-based questions using a collection of resources that analyzes Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Topics such as the history of the Supreme Court, the role state and local governments play in the United States, and the path a bill takes to become law are also examined.

PBS Teachers

Subject areas including civic participation, the three branches of government, and current events are among the many covered on this site, which provides lesson plans, videos, audio recordings, interactive activities for younger students, online professional development courses for teachers, and an archive of webinars.

Pros and Cons of Current Issues: Non-Partisan

The award-winning ProCon.org website serves more than 20 million people each year, including students and teachers in more than 11,000 schools in all 50 states and 90 countries. For each of its U.S. presidential election sites since 2008, ProCon.org has attracted millions of readers with its coverage of the candidates and their positions on key issues.

Smithsonian

Preparing for the Oath is an online study guide for the civics portion of the U.S. Naturalization Test.

Street Law

A resource library includes more than 200 free resources that can be narrowed by type, subject and audience. Many of the resources would appeal to high school students because of their interactivity and the inclusion of podcasts and YouTube videos; an excellent starting point for research projects.

StudentCam

StudentCam is C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation.

The Learning Network from the New York Times

The Learning Network offers more than a dozen new writing prompts and activities each week, all based on New York Times articles, photographs, illustrations, videos and graphs.

US Courts

Court literacy is the focus of this website, which features free, downloadable, in-depth resources to help students under how the courts work, key constitutional amendments, legal concepts, and more. Classrooms to Courtrooms provides teen-relevant scenarios to stage in class, as well as in-court simulations of trials with accompanying scripts. You Be the Supreme Court features materials for simulating Supreme Court deliberations.

US Government Printing Office

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids features information on government, citizenship, elections, and voting. It also includes student-friendly links to most government agencies. Activities include print as well as interactive games.

Youth Leadership Initiative

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics developed this web site, which includes more than 100 teacher-developed K-12 lesson plans. The site also features a Mock Election tailored to legislative districts throughout the US; an ECongress simulation; A More Perfect Union which simulates a Senatorial campaign; and Democracy Corp, a link to service learning plans and projects. Teachers need to sign up to get the full use of this extensive civics resource.

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