Explore Lesson Plans and Bell Ringers to find specific classroom activities sorted by topic. Some are better than others, and some videos are ponderously long (7-8 minutes!), but there are shorter pieces that might fit right into your existing curriculum. Use the Constitution Clips and Campaign 2016 sections to find great content for in-depth conversations about the Constitution or the 2016 presidential campaign, and explore the Classroom Deliberations website for some in-depth activities about decision making. In general, this will be a better resource for teachers to use to amass helpful links to populate your class website or use one by one in your classroom.Continue reading Show less
C-SPAN Classroom features videos and activities from the cable channel C-SPAN. The site has several sections: use the "Topics" drop-down menu to sort for videos on different topics like "Congressional Committees" and "Political Parties", and use "Teacher Opportunities" for info on summer professional development. "On This Day in History" lists notable dates and anniversaries throughout the year and associated videos; "Constitution Clips" features the full text of the US Constitution and video clips from lawmakers that illustrate or explain its articles and amendments. "Lesson Plans" and "Bell Ringers" are both created explicitly for the classroom: These sections include lesson plans, handouts, and videos meant to augment social studies and government classrooms, and many lessons are Common Core aligned.
"Campaign 2016" is a compendium of videos clips from all of the 2016 candidates, including clips that feature each candidate's stance on a range of critical issues. There's also text and video on the election process, historic campaign ads, and info on the history and importance of the debates. "Classroom Deliberations" links to a freestanding website that explores the decision-making processes that politicians engage in, and the "Teacher Friendly Websites" drop-down menu links to outside sites that might interest or support social studies teachers (though some links are not up-to-date). Teachers can create a free login to access most of the site's features.
Watching C-SPAN is an acquired taste; its slow, serious pace stands out in a media world dominated by speedy, provocative sound bytes. These videos can be long. Teachers can find hours-long videos of notable moments on the House floor (like Congressman John Boehner's farewell speech and Congressman Paul Ryan's election as Speaker) or quicker clips of historians and commentators describing the role of the branches of government and the impact of their work. These long clips show students and teachers something that other news outlets leave out -- namely, the seriousness and collegiality that most lawmakers bring to their work. Watching these videos will likely leave you feeling encouraged -- and a little patriotic, too.
Keep in mind that the content really varies. Some seem like haphazard clips pulled directly from broadcasts, while others are more polished. Notable politicians (the President and Speaker of the House) and experienced commentators (including NPR quiz show host Peter Sagal!) are great to watch, while some of the historians and professors have great things to say but are less engaging as speakers. Some of the bell-ringer videos are up to eight minutes long, which might not fit your classroom; take a look through the sections and see what works for you. All that being said, these videos are appealingly earnest and the associated content is thoughtfully done. It's refreshing to encounter long-form clips that are more about the day-to-day work of governing than partisan bluster.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.
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