The Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the newly formed United States in 1791 to ensure individual rights that were not addressed in the United States Constitution. These first 10 amendments to the Constitution enumerate and protect many of our rights, including freedom of speech, worship, the press, and assembly.
Bill of Rights Day is a good opportunity for students to explore a variety of students' rights issues. Ask students to identify an issue that has come up in your school, such as dress codes, drug testing, zero tolerance, privacy, religion, or freedom of expression. Have them explore the ways in which the Bill of Rights protects and does not protect students, as well as some of the past and recent challenges to students' rights. Have students write position papers or debate individuals or teams of students with opposing points of view. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Student Rights page has information and articles about recent court cases focused on students' rights.
Students can continue to explore the Bill of Rights by examining the ways in which it applies to current events and issues such as homeland security, prisoners' rights, the death penalty, and more. Provide access to a daily newspaper. Then ask students to construct a scrapbook or bulletin board display of articles that address Bill of Rights issues.
This website from the United States National Archives offers a look at the actual Bill of Rights, with links to high-resolution images and related information.
This ACLU resource provides a brief history of the Bill of Rights and the rationale for the creation of these 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.
This resource featured on Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government for Kids provides information about citizenship and the Bill of Rights.
This online exhibit includes images of many original documents and describes how the Bill of Rights was passed.
TeenTober is a nationwide celebration hosted by libraries every October and aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. TeenTober allows libraries the flexibility to choose what to celebrate (digital literacy, reading, technology, writing, etc) and the length of time for each celebration.
Celebrate this year's TeenTober by encouraging your middle or high school students to:
- Join a book discussion group at their school or public library.
- Read biographies of their favorite musicians, comedians, politicians, or sports figures.
- Read books about a hobby that interests them.
- Read books that approach a subject through humor.
- Read what they want to read, just for the fun of it.
The official website for TeenTober includes information on getting ready, registering, and celebrating the month-long event with young adults.
Have students check out the Young Adults' Choices list, a collection of books selected by teams of teenage reviewers.
Learn about more books for teens through this ReadWriteThink.org podcast series. Review past episodes and subscribe so that you don't miss future ones.
This blog includes information about books for young adults, including reviews and links to podcasts.
Since he did not have books growing up, Soto regards his own emergence as a poet as "sort of a fluke." After working as a laborer, Soto entered college intending to major in geography. While in school he realized that he wanted to express himself as a writer. Soto's books and poetry present vivid pictures of life in a Mexican-American neighborhood.
Soto's stories and poetry evoke memories and images of home, family, and community. Use one of his works, such as Too Many Tamales or Baseball in April as a basis for exploring these themes. Try one of these activities:
- Too Many Tamales is about a family preparing food for their Christmas celebration, and the children who share in the preparations. Invite students to share a story about their part in a special family event. Extend this idea using the lesson My Family Traditions: A Class Book and a Potluck Lunch, which asks students to share recipes and information about their own family traditions.
- The streets and neighborhoods of Fresno, California are an integral part of Soto's stories. Invite students to describe their street.
- Ask students to compose an acrostic poem that describes a person, place, or event they cherish using the Acrostic Poems interactive tool.
Visit Soto's official website for information about the author. Visitors can find a catalog of his works, biographical information, and frequently asked questions.
Houghton Mifflin provides this brief biography of Soto, along with a selected bibliography and a recipe for one of Soto's favorite foods-frijoles.
This essay, provided by Georgetown University, offers classroom strategies for working with Soto's poems, as well as information about the major themes and style elements found in his work.
In this Webcast from the Library of Congress, Soto discusses his writing and reads selections from his novel "Poetry Lover" at the 2001 National Book Festival.
The son of a French immigrant, Paul Revere worked as a gold- and silversmith for more than 40 years in Boston, Massachusetts. In the years before the revolution, Revere gathered intelligence information by "watching the Movements of British soldiers," as he wrote in a personal account of his ride. Although he was joined by William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, it is Paul Revere who is generally remembered for making this historic midnight ride.
As you study Paul Revere, have students learn about primary source documents while researching their family histories.
Paul Revere's ancestry can be traced back to his great-great grandfather, Jean Rivoire, born in France in about 1610. Challenge your students to examine their own roots by investigating likely sources of information about their ancestors. First, discuss the differences between primary and secondary sources. Brainstorm some possible primary sources, and then have students research their family histories. Some possible sources include a family Bible, interviews with family members, a grandparent's diary or journal (with permission, of course), letters and other correspondence, or photographs.
Next, have students create a family tree from the information they have gathered. Have students compare their family trees and discuss some of these questions: How far back were students able to trace their ancestry? How many different countries of origin are represented in your students' family trees? Why might it be difficult to trace some family trees? How can students make a contribution to preserving their own family histories?
This site features the real story of Revere's historic ride. Links to other resources, including Revere's biography, are also found here.
This Archiving Early America page features a Flash movie on Revere's ride.
This page from AmericanRevolution.org offers an account of Revere's famous ride in his own words.
Read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, which immortalized Revere's famous ride. Compare Longfellow's account with Revere's own version at the Revere Speaks website above.
The country's oldest cultural institution, the Library of Congress (LOC) is today also the largest library in the world. It houses almost 128 million items, including over 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 57 million manuscripts. The LOC's mission is to make its wealth of resources available to the Congress and the American people.
The Library of Congress (LOC) offers the perfect place to practice and refine research skills. Introduce students to the resources available at the Library of Congress website by conducting one of these research projects:
- Examine the September 11 attacks at the September 11, 2001 Documentary Project, filled with relevant resources.
- Explore Immigration in America with interviews, information on immigrants from all over the word, a timeline, and more.
- Students can investigate their own state's history or you could assign each student a different state to explore.
- This feature offers students many Amazing Americans to research. Select from presidents, reformers, explorers, musicians, authors, scientists, inventors, athletes, and more!
- StoryCorps offers ordinary people the opportunity to record their stories, which are then housed at the Library of Congress.
Enter the Library of Congress website at their homepage. Here you'll find links to a wealth of resources for the classroom.
This section of the Library of Congress website is designed especially for teachers. Included are lesson plans, activities, professional development, and more.
This section of the Library of Congress website is designed just for young people. Featured topics include amazing Americans, the U.S. states, an historical timeline, pastimes and sports, and music.
Part of the American Memory Project of the LOC, this section provides information on what happened in history and culture every day of the year.
Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, although perhaps it should be, since Mexican Americans treat it as a bigger holiday than do residents of Mexico. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where in 1862 a small number of Mexican soldiers defeated the French 100 miles east of Mexico City. People of Mexican ancestry in the U.S. celebrate this day with parades, folk dancing, mariachi music, and other fun.
Ask students to conduct research in the library and on the Web to find images and artifacts that suitably represent Mexico. Students can choose to research a piece of art, music, dance, literature, or food. Challenge students to think beyond stereotypical images of Mexico and Mexican-American culture (such as tacos, chihuahuas, and sombreros), and look for objects and icons with a deeper and more substantial meaning. Start your students' research with a brainstorming session which can include:
- Artists such as Diego Rivera
- Ancient Mexican peoples, such as the Aztecs
- The history of the Mexican state of Puebla
After students have completed their research, have them create a presentation that highlights something interesting, beautiful, significant, or amazing about their choice-and share the information with the class.
This article from America's Story from America's Library discsusses Cinco de Mayo as a "local legacy."
This site contains basic information about Cinco de Mayo, as well as dozens of links for further exploration an activities.
Xpeditions provides this map of Puebla, central to the story of Cinco de Mayo.
Ernest Thayer, author of the famous poem "Casey at the Bat," was born in 1863. Thayer published the poem on June 3, 1888, as a staff writer for the San Francisco Examiner. The poem has become a traditional part of the baseball season ever since.
Let Ernest Thayer's famous poem inspire your students!
In small groups or individually, students can make baseball cards for the players in the poem. Read "Casey at the Bat" aloud to students and ask them to listen carefully for the details and characteristics about each of the players involved in the fictional baseball game. Ask students to choose one of the characters, and think about what should appear on the front and back of his baseball card. Have students look at some real baseball cards if possible to provide inspiration. Finally, students can use a word processor or the interactive Character Trading Cards to create their cards.
For more ideas on making trading cards, see the Character Trading Cards page.
"Casey at the Bat" is read by James Earl Jones.
Set up a small-group reading of "Casey at the Bat"using this Readers Theatre script. The script divides the text of the poem into parts for Casey, the umpire, and a series of fans.
If your students enjoyed "Casey at the Bat," they may enjoy the baseball-related books listed on this site. Brief descriptions of each title are given, as is a recommended age.
Tim Berners-Lee shared his original prototype for an Internet browser that would allow people to share information by using a special mark-up language to post text, link to other documents, and display graphic images.
Birthdays are a great time for looking at pictures from years past. Look at past images of the World Wide Web by taking your students to the WayBack Machine. The WayBack Machine indexes billions of webpages, showing how they have changed over the years. Have your students brainstorm a few websites to explore, and then look at how they have changed by viewing older versions. Students will enjoy comparing webpages and thinking about how they have changed over the years.
In today's world, it is important to teach children about Internet safety. This site provides engaging resources for parents, educators, and kids.
This site traces the development of the Internet from a tool for science and government to a tool for businesses. Make sure to also check out Triumph of the Nerds, a companion website for the PBS television special Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires.
Visit the webpage of the inventor of the World Wide Web. You can read about his background, his original plans for the Web, and his latest projects.
This resource summarizes a study on the influence of the Internet on literacy instruction.
On August 6, 1926, 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the 21 miles across the English Channel in 14 hours and 31 minutes—nearly 2 hours less than any man had at that point. Ederle passed away in November 2003.
Take the anniversary of Ederle's famous swim as an opportunity to talk about today's famous athletes. Have students brainstorm a list of famous athletic competitors for both individual and team sports. There were, of course, thousands of athletes who competed in national and international events like those that Ederle competed in; however, only a few are still remembered today. Encourage students to establish criteria as a class that help make an athlete particularly memorable. Then ask your students to forecast which of today's athletes will still be remembered for their accomplishments in 75 to 100 years, as Ederle is remembered long after her famous swim across the English Channel. Students can use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to create flyers that campaign for their choices.
Your students may know how to swim, but do they know the techniques used by the best swimmers? This video explains how Missy Franklin used fluid dynamics in her quest for Olympic gold in the 2012 Summer Games.
In this NPR-archived broadcast, Bob Dunkel, executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, reviews Ederle's lifetime of accomplishments.
Students can learn more about the early history of swimming the English Channel by exploring the online exhibition of the Dover Museum in Kent.
The Women's Sports Foundation, a charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity, offers new fitness tips and much more at their website.
In 1959, the U.S. satellite Explorer VI took the first photographic image of the planet Earth from space while passing over the Central Pacific Ocean. The black-and-white image shows a portion of the ocean and the cloud cover in the area.
The first picture of Earth taken by Explorer VI probably does not look like what your students will imagine. Share the first picture from the Explorer VI Satellite with students, making sure to click on the image for an enlarged view. Discuss the differences between the images of the Earth that we typically see today (as shown on this date) and this first image. Use the opportunity to explore the changes in technology that have made photos today more sophisticated than the images taken in 1959.
Explore a variety of images of Earth taken from space. This database of images, published by the NASA-Johnson Space Center, includes photographs of cities, weather features, landscapes, and other specific geographic regions.
This site discusses the Earth Observing System, a set of 14 satellites observing the oceans, continents, and atmosphere to determine the pace and future of global warming and other trends.
This website, produced by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, provides real-time images of Earth and a summary of what the images tell us about the planet.