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American History and Culture

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. Internet educator Walter McKenzie selected this week's sites, which are among the best on the Web for teaching about America's heritage.

  1. The Age of Protest and Change
    In this overview of life in the United States during the turbulent 60s, visitors meet Malcolm, a black activist; Starshine, a young hippie; Joe, a settled suburbanite; and Lois, a military nurse. In brief vignettes, the characters share their lives, their viewpoints, and information about the culture that formed them. Their stories provide an intimate look at an era marked by sudden social change -- and great material for critical thinking and group discussion.

  2. All American Quiz offers this interactive quiz covering important people, places, and events in American history. Different levels of difficulty challenge students as they slowly increase their knowledge of American history. The quiz opens in a separate window, which keeps students focused and allows them to work safely and without interruption.

  3. United States Historical Census Data Browser
    Visitors can use this comprehensive overview of United States immigration patterns to explore selected demographics, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, from historical census data. The site, which covers the period from 1780 through 1970, provides a look at statistics by state and creates visual representations of the data selected.

  4. Native American Navigator
    Native American Navigator is a one-stop directory covering all aspects of Native American history and culture. The large database of online resources -- which includes links to museums as well as Native American Web sites -- is fully searchable. The hypertext time line is an especially useful tool for placing significant Native American events alongside major milestones in European history and North American colonization.

  5. Primary Sources and Activities
    The National Archives and Records Administration put together this collection of reproducible facsimiles of historical documents for student use. Important events in our nation's history, related to slavery, woman suffrage, constitutional issues, and much more, come alive through primary-source documents provided for student use. In addition, the lessons are aligned with the national standards for social studies.

  6. The African-American Mosaic
    This online resource from the Library of Congress traces the experience of African Americans through four periods of American history -- colonization, abolition, migration, and the WPA. Each page contains running text detailing the events chronologically, as well as images of primary documents, paintings, and photographs. Together, those resources tell a vivid and poignant story. Designed explicitly for scholars and students, this sampler of the library's collections is rich in imagery and historical perspective.

  7. The White House Project
    This nonprofit, nonpartisan group is working to broaden the political spectrum of our nation by making people aware of the potential of women as political leaders. Dedicated to promoting the idea of a woman president, the site includes the 2000 vice presidential ballot, which briefly outlines the political careers of 15 prominent women.

  8. The Inaugural Classroom
    This site, developed during the 1996 election, is designed to be relevant in any presidential election year. Visitors can use these excellent lesson plans, which focus on presidential inaugurations, to study the electoral process as well as the factors that form and influence the American political landscape.

  9. Voting and Registration
    The U.S. Census Bureau offers this statistical look at voting demographics in our nation since the 1964 elections. The site provides information -- broken down by gender, age, race, education, and labor category -- about elections every two years, up to and including 1996 and includes working documents on 1998. This material is a great springboard for critical analysis of voting trends in the contemporary United States.

  10. Cast Your Vote
    The Annenberg Project presents this fascinating look at how reporting public opinion can help form it -- and, consequently, affect the electoral process. Students begin by participating in a poll about their own experiences with and beliefs about polling. Then they examine the art and science of polling. This site provides an excellent introduction to the causes and effects of public opinion, and its extensive links can be used to teach an in-depth unit.

Walter McKenzie is a former classroom teacher, a consultant, and editor of the Innovative Teaching newsletter.

Walter McKenzie
Education World®
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