Welcome to the AK-CSS Members Forum! Please sign up to join the discussions.


  • My favorite lesson plans were the interactive ready to use lessons. The two i found to be the most useful were the sequence activities and the close attention to detail activities. They had them for several different topics but the ones I choose were the reasons for Westward expansion on the part of the US, and the integration of US troops over the course of US history. I believe that while teaching these topics to students it's vital to get them into some sort of interactive lesson or activity so they don't fall asleep on the table. For those students not in love with history like me, they need something to stimulate them besides my voice.I also liked the Vietnam war through photographs lesson, I think it will blow kids away seeing the different pictures as we talk about US policy during the war, and the difference the media played in the war compared to the ones prior and even the present ones we are working on today.

    One issue I did have, and I don't know if I was looking in the right place or not, was when I tried to find Alaska lesson plans, it just showed me what resources were available at the archives in Anchorage. But, overall I think I found a new tool to put in my handy dandy teacher tool box!

  • Unbelievable how much there is to choose from!  I went into the lessons wondering how I could bring them into my classroom.  My students know I am taking classes and love to see what my homework is and help me with it.


    Before I do any of the other lessons I am going to start with this project.  I have done a few tweaks, as every teacher does, to fit with kinders and after we do it in our class we are going to repeat it with our big buddies in small groups.  This will be a beginning of the year lesson from now on.  What a great way to get to know each other!


    1. This week, with the help of a family member or an adult who is close to you, look through the souvenirs of your life that have been saved as you have grown. For example, these might include a photograph, a letter, a stuffed animal, a newspaper clipping, a birthday card or special hair ribbon. Select one item that you are willing to share with your classmates and teacher, and bring it to class.
    2. During your turn in class, present your item providing the following information:
      1. What is it?
      2. When did you get it?
      3. Who gave it to you?
      4. How does the item relate to you?
    3. Consider, for your item and the items of your classmates, responses to the following questions:
      1. What does the item say about whoever created it?
      2. What does the item say about whoever saved it?
      3. What does the item say about what is important to people?



    The second lesson I choose was Family Tree | DocsTeach.  This goes great with my current science unit Me/Myself and Others.  This entire unit is about families and ourselves which is what most of Kindergarten revolves around.  I plan on tweaking the Poster Analysis Worksheet to fit more with Kinders.  After having our students’ analysis the documents we are going to create our own family trees.

    Building our own family tree is something we do every year.  This year I am really looking forward to the project. I feel the whole concept will be much clearer to the students and being able to explore some original documents will add the missing piece.


    The third lesson I found will be perfect for Constitution Day.  Grade K--"Orb & Effy Learn About Authority"Adapted from Foundations of Democracy Series

    This is a great lesson that teaches Authority from a level they can understand and appreciate.  The characters are fun and the story something they can relate too.  This would also be a lesson good for the beginning of the year, as it will go well with the new SEL standards also.





  • I had parent-teacher conferences this week (two solid 8-hour sessions with one running well into the evening) and so felt that I wasn’t able to give this assignment my undivided attention. However, it was a good challenge given my time constraints and one that I fully intend to revisit to find the “good stuff” that I can add to my own bag of tricks. I did find three lessons that really caught my attention and though my analysis is relatively poor, I will return to these and give them fuller attention a little later on.
    Teaching With Documents:
    The Homestead Act of 1862
    I enjoyed looking at this particular lesson because I’m particularly interested in studying the westward settlement period. Folks who settled the west under the Homestead Act had to have been particularly tough to go out into this semi-arid part of the country, prove it up and make a go of it. Hailing from Wyoming myself, I know this country and have seen for myself how tough it is even today to raise crops or livestock, and today’s farmers and ranchers have the advantage of the benefits left by the original homesteaders of the middle to late 1800’s. I was especially interested in the explanation of township and range, as I teach a lesson myself on the township and range system as established in the Land Ordinance of 1785. This also helps explain why states west of the Mississippi river take on a more squared-off appearance as opposed to those states east of the Mississippi which rely more on rivers to serve as natural borders. I also thought the idea in the lesson plan of researching the requirements of the Homestead Act in terms of citizenship etc. so early after the end of the Civil War was a very interesting angle.

    Teaching With Documents:
    Political Cartoons Illustrating Progressivism and the Election of 1912
    This lesson caught my attention because I feel that op-ed analysis really accesses higher-order thinking skills. Though I teach 8th US History, I don’t think it is too early to expose my students to analysis such as this lesson demonstrates. I’ve not seen an analysis sheet like the one presented in this lesson and I think it is a great way to organize one’s thoughts and ideas. I would use less nuanced cartoons for my group, but there are plenty to be found appropriate to my age group. Broad topics which have plenty of news coverage and local resonance would be the best topics to work with.
    Also, the section which integrated role playing activities could, with some work be used by 8th graders.

    Teaching With Documents:
    The Civil War as Photographed by Mathew Brady
    Everything in this lesson hearkens to things I already have done in my own class. I have used a book called Mr. Lincoln's Camera Man: Mathew B. Brady edited by Roy Meredith which contains a large collection of Brady’s photos and have tried simple variations of the activities set forth in this lesson. I have not used analysis sheets as well designed as I have discovered in these lessons. I think they will help me to create much tighter lessons. In this lesson, I think that using the sheets will enable students to add humanity to the old black and white photos form the Civil War. As we in our society continue to descend into a more and more virtual world, I have observed a dwindling sense of empathy for the human condition among my game-playing, wired-in 8th graders. The questions that the photo analysis sheets ask of the students (and hopefully expanded upon by the teacher) might help them bring color and “realness” to their minds’ eye and will help them to realize that those involved in this titanic struggle were real people with real dreams, emotions, loves and fears. I think that exercises such as those described in this lesson can help us to maintain a sense of immediacy and humanity in our own sphere of reality as we observe conflict in the world today.

  • Where to begin! The video Democracy Starts Here is a great place to visit when introducing students to the National Archives and her documents.  Ken Burns tells us, “It’s who we are read back to us.” And another formidable quote, “The power comes from utilizing [documents].” There are a multitude of springboard lessons and more begging to be written…they enrich the teacher and student alike.

    Lesson I

    FDR’s First Inaugural Address: Declaring War on the Great Depression

    Reading through the nine pages of this inspiring speech (in a parallel time to our own), I found myself longing for our leaders today to echo these words (and deeds that followed!). With election hype/speeches clamoring the airwaves and cyberspace, I wanted to connect my students with an active role in this civic duty--- to vote. The vocab lesson, reviewing the inauguration document, and then the “Written Document Analysis Worksheet” became an instant lesson. There are so many choices to give students as to where the essays could go…

    Lesson II

    Documents and Photographs Related to Japanese Relocation During World War II

    Well, can’t help it on this lesson, diving into an area of interest (passion). After the reading assignments, examination of related documents, and Photo Analysis Worksheet, I was especially drawn to activity #5. “Class Discussion.” This lesson truly helps personalize the experience of our Japanese citizens, and perhaps the greater lesson is learned---tolerance for one another.

    Lesson III

    Because I read Scott’s post re: Rosa Parks, that it is Black History Month, and that I hail from Detroit, where she eventually resided until her passing (Feb. 4th is Rosa Parks Day in the state of Michigan). In 1994, it was appalling to learn that my childhood hero was brutally assaulted and robbed in her own home, and for $53! Yes, Scott, I shared that “gut grabbing” feeling all over again myself. Not a bad thing if it helps remind us the importance of keeping prejudice in check and chains…until it no longer exists! 

    The website is quite amazing, and I find I am kicking myself for not having taken the time sooner. This summer will be pretty rich spending it here (at NARA) because this class is preparing me for it. Rather embarrassing that I have taken so long. Now it's a matter of not getting lost reading and reading...











  • My first lesson was the Don Henry Story. I chose it because it was news to me and dealt with a young radical. Students like to hear of young people making history and having an impact on the world around. It draws them in quickly and helps fill in peripheral details. The lesson also includes a neat poster and can tie in to propaganda. I also like to use art in my class and can see having my students create his or her own poster.

    The second lesson I chose was Observing Constitution Day. It drew my attention because at the start of the year, my students did not know the constitution. They had no idea it existed. I'm teaching them World History, but we tie in a lot of American History because it is important to know and it is embarrassing to have your kids know nothing about some important things. 

    The third lesson I selected was An Act of Courage, the Arrest Records of Rosa Parks. It drew my attention because arrest records are a primary source that make it real. You can see her fingerprints. It points to the seat she had on the bus. It grabs your gut all over again. 

  • I really enjoy the layout of the ready made curriculum.  I was looking at lessons by era and then specifically at the great depression and WWII.  I wanted to concentrate on the effects on the homefront during WWII to I chose these 3 lessons.

    Lesson 1.  Look at the effect on the homefront of the bombing or Hawaii.Ask students to compare and contrast Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" address with Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech before the Virginia Convention. They should include the following suggestions: Describe the setting of each speech. Find examples in Henry's speech of allusion, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, rhetorical questioning, metaphor, repetition, and alliteration. Examine Roosevelt's speech for examples of these literary devices. Recognizing that both speeches are outstanding examples of war addresses, consider how they are different and how they are similar. Decide why each of these speeches was effective. Decide which speech you believe is most effective and explain why. 

    Lesson 2.  Powers of persuasion-poster art of WWII.  (Women's involvement in WWII).  Students work in groups to look at three posters to analyze.  What are the similarities and differences between the posters?  Where do you think these posters were hung?  What emotions do these posters prompt?  Students ultimately create their own World War II poster intended to galvanize public support for the war effort.

    Lesson 3.  Teaching with Documents Lesson Plan:  Documents and Photographs Related to Japanese Relocation During WWII.  Provide students with additional information about the decision to intern persons of Japanese descent from the Historical Background essay, the text of the conference between DeWitt and Rowe (Document 1), and the Final Report (Document 2). Provide each student with a copy of the text of Executive Order 9066. Direct students to read the text and lead the class in a discussion of the document using the following questions: What type of document is it? What is the date of the document? Who wrote the document? What is the purpose of the document? What information in the document helps you understand why it was written? What additional questions does the document prompt? Explain to students that as a result of Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans were notified and quickly relocated to internment camps. Ask a volunteer from each group to describe the group's set of photographs to the class and explain what the documents reveal about internment.


  • Lesson 3


    I chose three lessons that I thought I would be likely to use in my classroom.  The first was one that will enrich my unit on Alaska geography.  It is called “Teaching With Documents:
Migration North to Alaska.”  It includes several documents such as photographs and letters that will allow me to personalize everything from modes of transport to the process of homesteading.

    I was really excited to discover the section on geography under the Washington State educational resources that were organized around specific grade levels.  I begin every year by teaching the five themes of geography; one of those themes is movement, which is defined as the movement of people or goods into or out of a given area.  There is a great lesson called “People on the Move” in which students examine a variety of primary source documents such as the Check for the Purchase of Alaska (1868), the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), and the Joint Resolution to Provide for Annexing the Hawaiian Islands to th....  Once the students have read the documents they (among other things) must explain the geographic factors relating to how these documents show why a particular group of people moved.  Finally, they create maps that illustrate the trajectory of the group’s movement and the geographic factors that affected their movement.  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is particularly apt for my bilingual classroom because it includes the Spanish version as well as English.     

                Another great lesson in the same section was “Humans and the Environment,” which speaks to another major issue of geography: natural resource management and conservation.  The two documents that students could use were the Act Establishing Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and the Boulder Canyon Project Act in 1928, which established the Hoover Dam.  The students then must articulate the costs and benefits of both events and what consequences these human actions had on the environment. 

  • I really struggled with narrowing the lesson plans I wanted to focus on down to three!  Like I said in my introduction, I’ve used the NARA website a lot to find lesson plans or documents for lessons, but until this class, I didn’t know how varied the resources for lesson plans were!  I decided to narrow down my choices based on using lessons from different areas in the National Archives sphere - I used one lesson plan from a state archives, one from a presidential library, and one from the general Archives lesson plan.

    The first lesson plan I evaluated was from the Montana state archives - I chose Montana because that is where my family is from - and the lesson is called “The Japanese labor proved generally satisfactory”: Use of Japanese American Labor in Montana during World War II (Lesson 9).  My Honors US History students are just starting to get into World War II, and I wanted to see what this lesson had for perspective on Japanese Internment.  There was no internment camp in Montana, but the lesson does a great job of using documents and background information to explain the role interred Japanese and Japanese-Americans played in the agricultural labor shortage in Montana.

    The second lesson plan I evaluated was from the Truman Library lesson plans, specifically the “Ideological Foundations of the Cold War Section.”  It is titled McCarthyism, and downloads as a Word document from the Truman Library website.  I chose the Truman Library because he was president during the start of the Cold War, and I chose the Cold War because that is what my students will be getting in to next!  This lesson plan gives a basic outline of a lecture-based lesson on McCarthyism, with the use of two early Cold War letters as the document base of the lesson.

    The final lesson plan I evaluated was from the archives.gov lesson plans, and it is called Teaching With Documents: The War in Vietnam - A Story in Photographs.  I chose this lesson because, as with the other two, my students will eventually be studying Vietnam, but I chose the photo-based lesson because my students did a lot of work with primary source photographs while studying the Civil War, and I would like to connect the use of media in the two wars when my students study Vietnam.

This reply was deleted.