United States Stations Lessons

Want to get your student’s more engaged in lessons? I find stations are an easy way to get my students engaged in the content, moving around the room, and learning in a fun and productive way.

This is a collection of 8 United States stations lessons from 1865 to the present broken into five or six different activities. Each lesson is for 55 minutes. There is a handout provided that students carry around and complete at each station, which is clearly labeled to keep them organized. This lesson is designed in Word and can be adapted to fit your classroom. This is a print and use stations lesson! No need to modify unless you want to ūüôā The class period goes so fast with stations!

Check my reviews on each station! This is a wonderful product!

Helpful Tips:

‚áí I highly suggest printing the station handouts on different colored paper and put them in folders to keep them organized so every year you have them ready to go!

‚áí I give my student’s 6 minutes a station with a minute passing time to complete a 45 minute class period, with a few extra minutes at the end of the lesson to discuss the main ideas from the lesson.


What’s included:

⇒ Imperialism Stations Lesson

⇒ U.S. During World War I Stations Lesson

‚áí¬†1920’s Stations Lesson

⇒ World War II Homefront Stations Lesson

⇒ Kennedy Administration Stations Lesson

⇒ Vietnam War Stations Lesson

⇒ US Civil Rights Movement Stations Lesson

⇒ Stock Market Stations Lesson

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Learn about the Brain with this Interactive Brain Map


Educational neuroscience bridges the gap between science and schools in a way that no other field can. Before the rise of this relatively new discipline, psychology and neuroscience occupied one realm of research and modern formal education occupied another. But the influence each can have on the other has becomeScreenshot 2013-11-15 21.37.26 increasingly clear in recent decades. Educational research creates new challenges for cognitive neuroscience to adapt to the real world practical requirements of educational learning, and findings in neuroscience create new challenges for education, providing important insights into the current state of the learner–including brain state, genetic state, and hormonal state–that could be relevant to learning and teaching.

Neuroscience has advanced to the point where it is time to think critically about the form in which research information is made available to educators. It must be interpreted appropriately for practice–identifying which research findings are ready for implementation and which are not–and employed with the best interests of the brain in mind. By providing new measures of the effects of learning and teaching, including brain structure and activity, researchers can now identify patterns between different types of learning methods and levels of attainment. The next education revolution is upon us–make sure you are a part of it.

Here is the link to the interactive website that can help your students learn about the brain.


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The Top Ten Ways I Structure my AP Government Course

I recently had someone ask me how I setup my AP Government classroom. I figured I would write a post about it since it was just easier to explain. This is going to be my 7th year of teaching (wow how fast time flies) and my 5th year teaching AP Government and Politics. I finally feel comfortable with the content and preparation after my 4th year.


Warning: I make money off of this idea. 


The Top Ten Ways I Structure my AP Government and Politics Course

1. AP Government 1 Page Chapter Summaries: Last year I gave each chapter review page during the structure AP Government review time. This year I am giving these chapter summaries before every test and collecting them and placing them into a student file folder. At the end of April I will be giving the folders back to my students and they will already have the review sheets completed. The 11 chapter summaries are one page handouts that are very simple and graphically appealing, which include the most essencial information in EVERY chapter in AP Government. This would be a great supplement to do for AP review or to include as you learn each unit to make a study guide for the AP exam in May.


2. Free Response Essay Packet:¬†¬†This is a 12 page document of all the AP Government and Politics Free Response Questions (FRQ’s) from the past 14 years. The document contains all FRQ’s from 1999-2013. FRQ’s are subdivided in unit and historical order. This is a VERY useful tool to have for an AP Government student. I plan on reviewing previous FRQ’s with my students before each unit test and during the structured AP review time.


3. How to Write a Free Response Essay Handout:  This is a handout on how to write a Free Response Essay on the AP Government exam. It has helpful tips and suggestions to write the essay.


4. AP Government Vocabulary List: This is a list of over 300 vocabulary words that are essential when learning AP Government and Politics. The vocabulary words are organized by unit (9 units total). The vocabulary words and definition are organized in alphabetical order. I give this packet out at the beginning of the year to help my students study and learn the material. We also play bingo before every unit test. My students fill in the words for the chapter to the blank bingo card and I read the definitions from the vocabulary list.


5. Socratic Seminar Handout: This is a handout to encourage students to have rules and expectations with socratic seminars. This handout is very useful when introducing the socratic seminar as a form of discussion in any class. I usually assign a controversial article related to AP Government and students must generate three socratic style questions for homework. My students then come to class ready to discuss the article through the socratic method.


6. Government Chapter Reading Questions: This is a list of 3-5 essential critical reading questions for each unit of government. This handout can be modified for any book or government course since the content is the same. I usually give this handout out at the beginning of the year and have my students read the chapter and respond to the questions in an extended response format.


7. Student Self-Evaluation for Classroom Participation:¬†This is a student self-evaluation on their own level of classroom participation. I joke with my student’s that I have the final VETO say in their grade for participate but I do let them self-reflect and evaluate their own behavior.


8. Debate Assignment:  This is a debate assignment for six separate government debates. The debate structure, rubric, audience rubric, audience evaluation guide, and guidelines are included. My class does these debates in two teams of two for each topic. The rest of the class is the audience. These debates were specifically planned for one debate for each unit.

Debate topics:

1. Voting should be compulsory in our democracy
2. The American two-party system is so strong that voting for third party candidates cannot effectively influence public policy.
3. There should be term limits for members of Congress.
4. Direct popular vote should replace the Electoral College.
5. Americans would be safer without a constitutional right to carry a weapon.
6. Affirmative action programs are necessary to safeguard the opportunities of underrepresented minorities.


9. Participation in Government: Ever wish your students were more involved in politics in the community. This assignment requires them to attend one political event out of a list of events in the community. They also need to write a paper response with a series of question prompts. There is a grading rubric provided as well as sample community event options to participate with.


10. Current Event Blog Post:  This is the detailed assignment, rubric, and schedule for the current event blog post assignment. Students are assigned one week each marking period to write one current event blog post and give an in class presentation. Students must include a summary, analysis, visual, and MLA citation, and connection to the course.


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5 Ways for Teachers to Make Learning More Interactive

One of the biggest challenges that many teachers face is trying to get students to participate, and it’s a problem that seems to grow as students get older and become more concerned about the judgment of their peers. Of course, there will always be a select few students that raise their hands for every question and delight in answering correctly. But the goal within any classroom setting is to ensure that all of the kids are engaged and that each one is receiving a solid Attentive-Classeducation. This is no easy feat these days, especially with limited resources and growing class sizes. But when teachers can find ways to make lessons interactive, then students have no choice but to play their role, enhancing the educational experience not only for themselves, but for the entire class. So here are just a few ideas that should help to get every student involved in the learning process.

  1. Cut back on lectures. Whenever you lecture a class full of students and allow them to sit by passively, taking notes, you are doing them a disservice. Although there are certainly occasions where you have to deliver a passel of data, consider how much of what you’re telling them may be garnered from reading or online research that you could give as homework. This should help you to temper your rote data dumps in the classroom setting and instead focus on interactive lessons designed to see if the kids are actually doing their reading assignments. Only by talking with them, instead of at them, can you figure out what they’re actually taking in.
  2. Test understanding rather than memorization. Nearly every child can memorize and regurgitate facts on command. This is the basic tenet of standardized testing. But as an involved educator you want to make sure that the kids in your classroom are learning not only how to absorb information, but how to put it to good use. In other words, you’re training them to think for themselves. So when you quiz your students in class, try to come up with questions that force them to think about what they have learned, approach it from different angles, and come up with a unique response. The brain is a muscle and we have to use it in order to make it strong.
  3. Put students in groups. If you question students one at a time you’re forcing the rest of the class to remain idle in the meantime. By creating small groups you can pose questions or problems for the entire class and allow the groups to discuss and answer them as a unit. This not only allows each student to interact with every question, but it also lets the students learn from and teach each other, potentially helping to solidify their own understanding of the materials covered.
  4. Electronic response system. Technology has allowed for a slew of new ways to make the classroom interactive, and one method that many teachers favor is the electronic response system. It’s a quick way to take a “vote” from the class and see how students are stacking up. For example, you can ask a question, offer three possible responses, and immediately see the percentage of students who got it right, helping you to determine where you should focus your teaching efforts. You might also use this gadget as a way to engineer lively debates on topics covered in class by taking polls of student opinions on a subject.
  5. Unorthodox seating. The way a classroom is laid out can definitely have an impact on the level of interactivity. For example, in a class that requires a lot of discussion, you might consider forming the desks into a large circle so that all of the students can see whoever is speaking. This face-to-face configuration encourages interaction and turns a discussion between teacher and students into an interactive experience that includes the entire class. Of course, there are certain settings where this strategy won’t work, like in a lecture hall with immovable seating or a program for a¬†master of science in accounting online. But the creative teacher can find ways to make any setting more interactive.


Guest Post: Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers. 


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Google Lesson Plans

Yesterday I learned about Google Lesson Plans from¬†@KaelynBullock¬†from the #engsschat¬†discussion. Students’ need to be taught research skills and how to deal with the world’s content using the “Google a Day” challenge. Google A Day challenges help your students’ put their search skills to the test, and to get your classroom engaged using technology, to discover the world around them, and to become critical thinkers and learners.

Students’ need to be taught how to¬†effectively¬†use¬†web-search¬†tools and critically¬†evaluate sources. Google has¬†created lesson plans to help teachers educate their¬†students about¬†critical¬†source evaluation.The literacy lessons help teachers meet the new¬†Common Core State Standards and are broken down based on level of expertise in search: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced.

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 8.54.01 PM


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Don’t let Snow Days Slow You Down: Use Google Drive

Like most of the East Coast, I am home on a snow day today and can’t afford to miss another school day with my AP class with an¬†impending¬†exam coming in less than three months. I assigned them a google document for homework that allows them to add their own information to the trends on the Supreme Court Google Document. I will review the handout with the class rather than wasting¬†valuable¬†class-time¬†having them write down the notes on the chart.


Mrs. McGrath, another AP US history teacher at my school is having her student’s create Google Presentations. Her students are collaborating even if they are not together on a project that is due on Monday. ¬†Our students are still learning on a snow day!

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Socrative for Review and Sub Plans!

I NEVER in my wildest dreams would assume my student’s would actually be able to play a “review game” on their mobile devices with a substitute. I have a dream US history class period 1, which means they are still tired. The classroom culture is such that they do their work, every one of them contribute to the class, and meaningful learning happens. It is one of my favorite classes. I am not sure I could leave a review game for some of my other periods, but with that being said you have to know your students and ideally have a good substitute!


I use Socrative for review games all the time. I also love Infuse Learning. I use both programs (free)¬†interchangeably¬†because they have different features. On Monday morning I had a review day scheduled before their test on Tuesday. I attended a conference in the city and needed to leave sub plans. My first reaction was “oh no, what can I have the sub do with them? I can’t lose another school day” (we’ve had 2 snow and 4 hurricane days this year, so far). I already had a Socrative review prepared for my students and I figured I would continue with my plans. Being my school is a BYOD my students could partner up or each use any device they owned to play the “game.”

My sub plans said:

  1. Have the students go to their Socrative app or the internet to access the website
  2. Give them this random code ##### to play the game
  3. Have them play the review game alone or with a partner

I preset the questions to have student’s see if they got the questions correct as well as a “why” if they got the question wrong. My student’s did really well and enjoyed the review game. If you want to access other teacher’s review games using the socrative share code- click this link.


After they played the digital review game I had them use white boards in pairs. I gave each pair an envelop of four vocabulary words with the definitions that were going to be on the test. They had to draw their vocabulary word. They then took turns guessing each others word. They played this game for four rounds so they reviewed over 40 vocabulary words in the period.


I graded the tests on Tuesday and my students did fabulous on the assessment! I am so happy I did not lose and day and most of all meaningful learning occurred and reviewed WITHOUT me being there. I hope you can try something like this in your class.

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Gooru provides high-quality learning resources for every student and teacher

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to teach completely using the iPad. The only exception is when I show a DVD in my classroom. So far it has been fairly easy since I got this wonderful Longitech keyboard, which makes typing so much easier. ¬†In my classroom I have an Apple TV, which allows me to mirror anything from my iPad or my student’s iPad to the projector.

I am always looking for new ways to make my iPad more efficient and save me time. I recently discovered Gooru, which any user can use on their mobile device or on a regular computer browser. Gooru Collections allow any user to have access to more than 3,000 educational materials. The website is organized into playlists and is designed for every 5th-12th grade student.The options are endless from videos to games, to digital textbooks, useful teacher approved websites, quizzes, and so much more.

Collections are aligned to standards and currently cover every 5th-12th grade math, science and social science topic, with more subjects coming soon.

One of my favorite features is that you can save ¬†any resource to your username so anytime you want to access a¬†particular¬†resource it’s right on the home screen or “shelf.” The best part is that it’s FREE and has NO advertisements. Check it out today, you will not be disappointed!

Features of the iPad app:
-Gooru Collections will always be free
-Browse collections on 5th through 12th grade topics
-Search for collections to find exactly what you need to study
-Bookmark your favorite collections for later review
-Enable narration written by teachers to guide you through every resource in a collection
-Get the best collections delivered to you every week in “Featured Collections”
-Swipe to move on to the next resource, or tap the top navigation bar
-Customize your experience by logging in to your goorulearning.org account and accessing the collections you saved on the Web
-All materials are vetted by teachers to ensure what you study is high quality and safe
-Much more to come!

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Teach your students to use TED to spread ideas!

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds:¬†Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is a wonderful resource for education is so many ways. It could be used for professional development and videos to engage students. The Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog¬†has devoted an entire section that contains everything about TED including lists of¬†TED’s most popular videos. ¬†You can expand your students to videos devoted to education and ideas that is beyond youtube.


TED has so many other options such as conferences, events, speeches, community, and¬†conversations. I particularly like using TED Conversations with my AP Government class. As a debate team is preparing for a debate my class has a virtual discussion with the “world” about the debate topic. I have my students write their own opinion and then respond to classmate’s posts.¬†Here is our TED Conversation on the Term Limits for Members of Congress and the Electoral College. This method is¬†extremely¬†powerful because students contribute to ¬†an online community that extends beyond the four walls of our classroom. Students take ownership and feel they “have a say” about ideas in the world.


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Beyond the Bubble and Reading Like a Historian

I am very proud to announce that The Stanford History Group will be hosting the first #sschat of 2013 on Monday, January 7th at 7 PM EST. They will be discussing reading and writing in history courses. Please join us on #sschat! 


The Sanford History Educaton Group has created two wonderful programs: Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble. ¬†The Reading like a historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry.¬†Each of their 65 lessons¬†revolve ¬†around a central historical question and features primary documents modified for students of all¬†ability¬†levels. ¬†¬†Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of¬†multiple perspectives on issues from King Philip’s War to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and make historical claims backed by documentary evidence. Beyond the Bubble utilizes the digital archives of the library of Congress to create a new form of history assessments. Their goal is to¬†‚Äúgo beyond the bubble‚ÄĚ by offering teachers an easy-to-use assessment that captures student’s knowledge and¬†interpretation¬†of¬†critical¬†thinking instead of memorization of facts.




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Put Ownership on Students with an EdCafe!

I learned about the wonderful idea of an edcafe model from Ms. Katrina Kennett¬†. She is an inspiration and a wonderful English teacher. Her¬†blog goes into much more depth about edcafe’s and many other creative ways to teach.


What is an Edcafe? 

According to Katrina, “An EdCafe is a way to structure class that promotes student choice and ownership over learning. The model was inspired by EdCamp conferences, where participants build the schedule and choose what sessions to attend. This bottom-up approach shifts energy, engagement, and opportunity for exploration to the students, and transforms the teacher into expert facilitator instead of gatekeeper/manager.”


My First EdCafe

I ran my first EdCafe this past Friday. My students read a political book of their choice as their summer assignment. I thought this model would be very beneficial to share the books. I created the basic outline and students submitted their book titles and a few sentences about their book. Students were placed in a particular session to present. The remander of the class could choose what session they would attend. I even had an intermission with food. Overall, my students were engaged, enjoyed sharing their books, and really like the freedom to be in control of their own learning. My principal observed this lesson and said the lesson put the ownership on the students. He also said they they were actively involved in the classroom.

 Here is how I organized the EdCafe:

Images of EdCafe on PhotoPeach

Benefits of the EdCafe Model

  • low pressure presentations
  • small groups
  • student centered topics
  • Engagement
  • Student Ownership
  • authentic¬†note taking
 Some Tips to Running a Successful Edcafe 
  • Scaffolding is key to the success of the edcamp in the classroom model¬†during first attempt teacher should be more directive to establish the tone and the framework for students. ¬†In future sessions more freedom to choose topics can be given.
  • Set clear expectations – kids learning how to take notes because the notes were for the students, not for the teacher
  • Be organized¬†-use google forms to sign up kids
  • Make it fun– I brought food for the intermission between sessions.
  • Student Choice- My students could decide, which Edcafe they went to. They enjoyed the freedom and flexibility.
  • Use Technology– I recorded each sessions discussion with an ipad at each table.

My Students Comments: 

  • “The Edcafe was fun”
  • “Can we do that again?”
  • “I wish we had more time to discuss our books”
  • “Can we have more¬†structure¬†for the next one”
  • “I really liked the way we presented our books today”

I plan on having¬†another¬†Edcafe with my students. Now that they know the general structure it will be easier to run. I plan on doing it with different articles. I will assign five articles and then have students come in and share their article and lead a mini discussion. Each session will be a¬†different¬†article. I also really like Katrina’s idea with quotes and primary documents.¬†Do you have any other suggestions on how an EdCafe can be successful in history?

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