All About the Supreme Court

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

U.S. Supreme Court Building (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Supreme Court Building (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court is sparking a lively debate. It comes after Republicans refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the seat vacated by when Antonin Scalia passed away February 2016.

But all this news about the Supreme Court provides a great opportunity for social studies teachers and homeschoolers to really dive into teaching their students about the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government. Fortunately, Curriki has a comprehensive collection of resources that support teaching and learning about the US Supreme Court.

In Crash Course: Supreme Court, PBS offers a fun video that helps us understand how a case makes it to the Supreme Court.

You’ll also find on this page:

(Source:Wikimedia Commons)

(Source:Wikimedia Commons)

In Supreme Court Activity, students do a simulation of a Supreme Court deliberation that introduces them to the difficult role of the courts balancing individual rights and public safety when national security is threatened.

Supreme Court Cases delves into the significance and outcomes of major Supreme Court cases and how they affect society.

The Challenge of Selecting an Ideal Supreme Court Nominee Government helps us understand the challenge a president faces in finding a judge to nominate who will be attractive enough to both parties to be confirmed.

Supreme Court Nominations teaches the fundamentals of Supreme Court Justice nominations and helps students understand the politics behind the nominations; challenges students to cut through the politics and compare nominees’ judicial philosophies.

The Supreme Court’s Role in American Society helps students understand the history and role of the Supreme Court, particularly in light of famous court rulings and the make-up of the court.


Photo of Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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From Slavery to the White House: Celebrate Black History Month with Curriki

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Source - Public domain (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661312/)

Source – Public domain (www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661312/)

Licence CC-BY-SA by Karen Fasimpaur

Black History Month, held each February in the United States, celebrates the contributions of African Americans to United States history. Curriki offers a treasure trove of vetted resources to help teachers and homeschoolers introduce their students to the central role African Americans have played in U.S. history – from slavery to the Oval Office.

History.com Resources

One of the best Black History Month resources in the Curriki Library is History.com. A couple of our favorites include:

  • Black History Milestones
    History.com’s discussion of Black History Milestones explores milestones and events that shaped African-American history, including the Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, and the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.
  • Black History Facts
    Did you know that Madam CJ Walker was America’s first self-made woman to become a millionaire? Or that George Washington Carver was able to derive nearly 300 products from peanuts? Get the story of the creation of the NAACP, famous firsts in African American history, and more in History.com’s discussion of Black History Facts.
  • America at the End of the Civil War
    The America at the End of the Civil War unit by Nassau BOCES uses a PowerPoint presentation and music to reflect the culture of America after the Civil War, including the war’s aftermath and the Jim Crow Laws.

Black History on Video

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (public domain)

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks has been called “the first lady of civil rights” because she refused to give up her seat in the colored section of a bus to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Her courageous act of defiance and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the Civil Rights Movement.

Curriki’s Rosa Parks Introductory Lesson for kids in grades 4-6 introduces Rosa Parks using a Language Arts lesson plan.

In an activity from Read Write Think, students make believe that the year is 1955 and they just heard about Parks’ arrest, and write newspaper editorials about segregation.

Famous African Americans on Video

Curriki’s Black History Month collection includes a number of opportunities to introduce prominent African Americans through video:

  • Rosa Parks
    History.com offers videos about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott and more.
  • Frederick Douglass
    Frederick Douglass was an African American slave who became a social reformer and abolitionist. This cartoon biography makes learning his story fun.
  • George Washington Carver
    Journey into to the life of George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery but overcame his surroundings to use plant biology and his ideas to help the world.
  • Harriett Tubman
    This Harriet Tubman mini-biography teaches about the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.
  • Sojourner Truth
    Sojourner Truth was an escaped slave who became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

More Black History Month VideosObama poster

  • The Civil Rights Movement
    The Civil Rights Movement helped change the United States of America, and Brown vs. Board of Education stopped segregation in schools. Welcome to FresBerg’s educational videos deliver watchable lessons.
  • 14th Amendment
    The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ordered states to stop discriminating against blacks. This educational video tells the story.

Other Resources

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system, is a national research library devoted to collecting, preserving and providing access to resources documenting the history and experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world. The website features online access to digitized images, texts, manuscripts, and archival finding aids – great for students researching any topics having to do with African-American history.
  • National Geographic
    Celebrate the achievements of African Americans past and present during Black History Month. This collection of resources from National Geographic includes profiles of prominent figures such as President Barack Obama and lesser-known war heroine Mary Seacole. Try an interactive exercise to witness the challenges slaves faced attempting to escape North. Explore hands-on activities, maps, and more that will give students of all backgrounds new perspectives on this important part of American culture.

See all of Curriki’s Black History Month resources.


KimJonesimageKim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Inauguration and Protest

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Iniguration

Source – Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, we saw departing President Barack Obama hand the leadership baton to Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, in a solemn ceremony in Washington, D.C., that has been repeated many times since George Washington’s inauguration.

The next day, millions of people marched in Washington and across the country (and the world) in non-violent protest of the Trump presidency and to declare their support for the rights of women, LGBT persons, immigrants and Muslims.

The timing of the two events presents a unique opportunity for educators and homeschoolers to examine both the role of the presidency, including inaugurations through history, and that of non-violent protest in eliciting change.

Inauguration

The inauguration of the President of the United States is a ceremony that marks the commencement of a new four-year term of a president. It happens at the western front of US Capitol on Jan. 20. The oath is usually administered by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the new president and vice president officially take office at noon.

Women's March on Denver (Photo by Hammster Media)

Women’s March on Denver (Photo by Hammster Media)

Curriki offers several resources that explain presidential inaugurations.

The Role of the President

Curriki offers a curated collection of lessons and activities that help students grasp the complex responsibilities and roles of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.

  • The President’s Job helps students review the role of the presidency by using objects, images and documents.
  • Defining the Presidency helps students learn about the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the election of our first president, George Washington.

Civil Protest

  • The Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration – as well as 386 sister marches held in other cities across America – invites us to take a look at the historical role of nonviolent protest on government action.
  • The mission of the march, according to the Women’s March on Washington website, was: “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.

“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

For educators and homeschoolers, the women’s marches present an opportunity to teach about democracy’s basic principles. The grassroots protests can ignite interesting debate in the classroom, as well as a lesson in the history and effectiveness of non-violent protest.

  • The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating with the President, a collection of two lessons from EDSITEment, encourages students to consider the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.
  • Protest Signs examines protest signs as a powerful and important way for people to express their feelings, as children compare 2 protest signs from the civil rights movement and then create their own expressive poster. It is included in an OurStory module entitled Students Sit for Civil Rights, by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Photo of Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Honoring an American Hero

mlk3

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—celebrated next Monday, Jan. 16, 2017—provides an inspiring opportunity to teach about justice and heroism.

Dr. King—an American hero who lived and died long before our students were born—is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. Although he died for his beliefs, his legacy lived on in a changed world.

The United States declared Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday in 1986, but his commitment to civil rights through non-violent protest resonates even today, far beyond US shores. He has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, among many others.

Here are a few of Curriki’s favorite resources for teaching a new generation about this great man:

Who Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream: equality for all people. This lesson looks at how one life can change the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Me: Identifying with a Hero
This lesson provides ideas for celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by encouraging students to explore the connections between Dr. King and themselves.

Martin Luther KingLiving the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness
Students participate in Dr. King’s dream by doing 100 acts of kindness.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence
This lesson introduces Middle School students to King’s philosophy of nonviolence, and to the teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi that influenced King’s views.

Martin Luther King Day Teaching Resources
Science NetLinks and AAAS have developed a number of resources from the social and behavioral sciences that will help you celebrate the work and legacy of Dr. King in your classroom, from understanding stereotypes to skin color to social class.

Scholastic MLK Resources
Learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent struggle for civil rights in the United States with biographies, memorable quotes, plays, printables and multimedia resources.


Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Teaching the Elections: One Week to Go!

Trump and CLintonBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

With U.S. Presidential Elections coming into the home stretch, many Americans are heaving a sigh of relief that one of the most acrimonious election seasons in memory is finally almost over.

But for teachers and homeschoolers, that means just one week remains to use active elections as an exciting real-time teaching tool for US history and social studies.

Curriki’s elections page includes a collection of helpful, interactive election teaching resources for kids of all ages. They include:

  • Mock Election, a three-day simulation lesson in which students explain the steps taken from party formation to national election.
  • Win the White House, in which students to manage their very own presidential campaign.
  • Electoral Process, a peek into the electoral process, from party primaries to the general election.
  • Poster PLanHow to Become President of the U.S. Poster Lesson Plan, in which students go from Constitutional qualifications for becoming President of the United States, through background research on a candidate, through campaign analysis, and finally participate in a mock election.
  • Scholastic Election, created by the expert editors of Scholastic News magazines, is designed to inform and engage kids in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Curriki also offers “Participation Presidential Elections in Government, a half-year course that aims to make students appreciate their voice in American politics. The course explores the foundations of Democracy, the American dream, social issues, and of course the presidential election.

You’ll also find links to the platforms for the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties and much, much more.

Other Election Resources

Election centralHere are some other election resources to use during this final week of the US Presidential campaign:

  • Because this campaigning cycle has been unusually contentious, Teaching Tolerance offers and promoting civility in times of conflict. The lesson plan Civil Discourse in the Classroom teaches students how to developed reasoned arguments from unsubstantiated claims. You’ll find more tips on its Election 2016 Resources page.
  • PBS Learning Media offers Election Central, a collection of election news, history, and ideas for facilitating classroom debates.

Share Your Successes!

What has been working best for you? Please share your most successful strategies on Curriki’s Facebook page and enter a drawing for an Amazon gift card!


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Curriki Joins Forces with the Constitution Center

constitution day logoBy Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

In anticipation of Constitution Day on Friday, Sept. 16 – and, of course, the upcoming presidential election – Curriki is delighted to announce a timely and exciting new partnership: the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia!

The Constitution Center may be physically located in the birthplace of our nation, but its website, ConstitutionCenter.org, reaches around the world as the only virtual place where people can come together to learn, debate and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history – the U.S. Constitution.

Curriki’s Constitution Center Collection

You can find the Constitution Center’s always relevant collection on the Curriki website, with fascinating units such as:

  • The 13th Amendment – examine the Primary Source,  the handwritten congressional copy of the amendment that banned slavery, signed by President Lincoln, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, and over 150 members of Congress, for a vibrant discussion guide on the abolition of slavery.
  • Lincoln: The Constitution & the Civil War – a lesson plan on this fascinating period n US history, featuring an online game featuring an animated Abe Lincoln
  • The Bill of Rights – a multi-faceted lesson that helps students learn about the rights and freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, translate the document into student-friendly language and make connections with real-life scenarios by playing Bill of Rights Bingo.
  • Students will also dive into the legacy of Martin Luther King, the history of Thanksgiving, the separation of powers and so much more.

Primary sources of some of the most fundamentally important historical material, including the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation, are also offered in this special collection.

What is Constitution Day, Anyway?

Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the most influential document in American history, by the Founding Fathers on September 17, 1787.  Celebrating Constitution Day presents an awesome opportunity to inspire students to actively learn about the founding of the United States.

Find Curriki’s curriculum provided by the Constitution Center here.


Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMO

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Follow Curriki’s Blog at www.curriki.org/blog/.

Presidential Politics and the US Constitution

US ConstitutionBy Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

The moving speech delivered by Khizr Khan, father of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, to the Democratic National Convention has many Americans wanting to refresh themselves on the U.S. Constitution.

Khan’s words remind us how important it is that all Americans read and understand the rights we all hold so dear.

Most of us don’t carry pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, but we do have access to the e-text on Curriki, courtesy of Curriki’s new partner, the Constitution Center. Now might be a good time to browse these words and share your thoughts with students and peers.


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Night and Elie Wiesel’s Legacy

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

By Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

The recent death of Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at age 87 presents an opportunity for us to study and reflect upon the brutal genocide that killed six million Jews in the 1930s and 40s.

Wiesel, who lost his father, mother and a sister in the Holocaust, managed to survive the Auschwitz and Buchenwald death camps. After the war he moved to the United States, and at the age of 27 wrote his internationally acclaimed memoir Night.

The activist and author made Holocaust education his mission in life and became a voice for victims, eventually writing more than 50 books. His death leaves a huge void.

Wiesel’s Legacy

U.S. President Barack Obama called Wiesel “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.”

“By bearing witness, he revealed evil many avoided facing,” wrote Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “By never giving up, he made this world better.”

Learning Resources

I have created a collection of resources about Wiesel’s book Night, and urge teachers and parents to use these in explaining why Wiesel’s death still reverberates so strongly throughout the world today.


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

 

 

20 Curriki Resources to Get Students to Engage with Your Content

By Curriki Guest Blogger Lani deGuia Lani

Now that the school year is into full swing, it is a great time to dive deep into your curriculum to see how you can foster critical thinking and engagement to elevate your instruction. Students are craving activities that make the content seem relevant and that allows them to connect to the topic personally and/or creatively. Here is a selection of great resources that tap into higher order thinking while staying aligned to standards!

 

Language Arts

A Bad Case of Bullying: Using Literature Response Groups with Students (Grades 3-5)

It’s never too early to start teaching students about emotions and how to prevent bullying. This ReadWriteThink lesson plan utilizes the beloved children’s book “A Bad Case of the Stripes” to have students engage with a narrative story and reflect on it personally.

Hunger Games (Grades 6-12)

Bring one of the most popular movie series into your classroom through this collection of reading and writing activities.

The Arts and the Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project (Grades K-12)

Ever thought of having students draw a self-portrait when studying memoirs? Check out this collection of multiple unit ideas for each grade level that integrates art into the language arts curriculum.

The Bard: Shakespeare Up Close (Grades 9-12)

Get students to interpret Shakespeare and discover their acting abilities! In this activity, students will select their favorite scene from a work of Shakespeare, re-enact it in a modern setting, and record/edit using digital tools.

 

Writing (middle and high school) dictionary

Global Voices: Journalism in the Classroom (Grades 9-12)

Motivate aspiring journalists through this unit that introduces print media and the craft of writing news stories.

Persuasive Writing (Grades 6-8)

Teach students to develop and defend arguments! This collection contains multiple lesson plans and units based on persuasive writing for middle school.

The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide (Grades K-12)

Stumped on a new way to present writing tips to your students? This collection of instructional strategies (graphic organizers galore!) is sure to come in handy!

 

English Language Learners

“Our Lives, Our Words”: Using Digital Photography to Improve Student Learning (Grades 1-4)

Students will integrate real-world connections with what they are learning through the use of digital photography.

 

Math math

Area (Grades 3-5)

Common Core based unit for teaching area. Includes 12 lessons, hands-on activities, worksheets, and assessments.

Domino Pizza Effect (Grades 6-8)

Problem-based learning activity from Mathalicious.com that was adapted for 8th grade. Students explore linear equations, slope, and y-intercepts through data and graphing.

Linear Inequalities (Grades 9-12)

Developed using Understanding by Design by Trinity University, this 4-week unit has students investigate linear inequalities and systems of linear inequalities. Students will analyze how reasonable solutions are and discover the multiple approaches to solving a problem.

Math Focal Points (Grades 6-8)

Need to brush up on your content knowledge of math to improve your instruction? Annenberg Learner provides multiple resources to better teach math and science including content knowledge, lessons, and activities.

 

Science science

A Matter of Chocolate (Grades 3-5)

Cross-curricular unit thematic unit for Social Studies and Science where students explore the history and properties of one of the most adored sweet treats! The unit utilizes an inquiry-based approach with both hands-on and virtual experiences!

MedMyst (Grades 6-8)

Adventure online game where middle school students use scientific investigation to examine infectious disease outbreaks and epidemiology.

Game Design in the Science Classroom (grades 6-8)

Engaging unit where students will utilize free Scratch programming software from MIT to create their own video game. Includes teacher and student resources including formative and summative assessments.

Physics of Sailing (Grades 9-12)

6 week Problem-based learning project for high school students. Integrates real world application of Newton’s laws to sailboat design. Includes opportunities for use of technology tools Google Sketch Up and/or AutoCAD for student presentations.

 

Social Studies

The Wall Inspires Letters to Veterans (Grades 3-5)

With Veteran’s Day approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to get students to reach out to their local veterans.

Debates and the Race for the White House (Grades 6-12)

Get students involved in the current Presidential election by having them analyze the election debates.

Civil Rights Movement (Grades 9-12)

Students will examine the development of federal civil rights and voting rights through research and a Socratic seminar discussion.

 

Educational Technology

10 Tech Tools to Teach the Common Core Standards (all subjects)

Looking for a digital tool to help your students with collaboration, communication, logical reasoning, and more? Support your instruction of Common Core by integrating these resources!

What is your favorite class project/activity that is successful in both teaching the content and energizing student interest?

Cinco de Mayo Resources

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May, on Monday this year) is perhaps a bigger holiday in certain parts of the United States than it is in Mexico. This is despite it being a celebration of a victory by the Mexican Army over French troops in 1862 at Peubla, Mexico. The observance in the U.S. is a celebration of Mexican-American culture among the large community in the U.S. of people with a Mexican heritage.

In Mexico it is observed primarily in the state of Puebla and is known as the Day of the Battle of Peubla (in Spanish: El Día de la Batalla de Puebla).

Cinco de Mayo is not just about a national fiesta. It is an important springboard for learning about Mexican history and culture. We currently have a number of featured Social Science resources on Curriki for this year’s observance.

For Elementary School: Cinco De Mayo Vocabulary Worksheet

Contributed by: Curriki’s Thematic Collections – This worksheet includes vocabulary related to Cinco de Mayo.

For Middle School: Mexico Geo-Political Map

Contributed by: Marshall Cavendish

For High School: The African Influence in Mexico

Contributed by: Brenda Faye – This curriculum unit is based on experiences as a participant in a Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad. The unit explores the African presence in Mexico from a historical and cultural perspective.

You can also find additional Cinco de Mayo resources on Curriki hereWe hope you find some of these resources useful in your classrooms.