Cornerstones

Social Studies

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Immersive and Engaging

Social Studies Cornerstones give students a chance to engage in the work of historians, geographers, economists, and political scientists.

Students communicate their results and take informed action through writing persuasive position papers, public testimony, and policy proposals.

Additional cornerstone information can be found at the DCPS Cornerstones website.

Getting Started

Teacher Resources

Teacher resources are provided on the Cornerstones website Social Studies page—browse the collection to locate your materials.

Course Readers & Source Materials

To ensure success, each student will need one workbook including the course readers and source materials. Identify the Grade Level Readers that best suit your needs—full descriptions of the readers are provided in the following section, Grade Level Course Reader Descriptions.

Getting Started

Grade Level Units

First, you’ll need to identify the Grade Level Units that best suit your needs. Full descriptions of the units are provided in the following section, “Grade Level Unit Descriptions”, just click on the grade to view the full description.

Teacher Resources

Teacher resources are provided on the Cornerstones Teacher Resource pages—view the Teacher Resources section to locate your resources now.

Unit Readers & Student Handouts

To ensure success, each student will need one workbook including the unit readers and student handouts.

Complete Solution

XanEdu and the Washington DC Public Schools are excited to bring you a scalable distribution solution for the Social Studies Cornerstones.

Exclusive Authorized Distributor

As the exclusive, authorized distributor of the Social Studies Cornerstones, XanEdu has made it simple for you to deliver these materials to a single classroom or an entire district by providing a streamlined ordering, production and delivery solution.

Copyright Compliance

And most importantly, XanEdu has taken care of the copyright permissions so you can rest easy knowing your school is compliant.

Grade Level Course Reader Descriptions

Grade 6

Thinking Like a Geographer Order Now »

Summary:
Can maps be used to improve a community? Being able to effectively use a map is an important skill every productive citizen must have. Students will not only focus on map elements, but will dive into the perspectives with which maps are written and the story each map can tell about a community. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze multiple maps of Washington DC and participate in a Paideia Seminar to define the term “community.” Students will then analyze their own community and create a community profile/asset map to identify an issue in their community. Students will use topographical, political, boundary, and road maps to complete this Cornerstone.

Standards:
6.1.8: Ask geographic questions and obtain answers from a variety of sources, such as books, atlases, and other written materials; statistical source material; fieldwork and interviews; remote sensing; word processing; and GIS. Reach conclusions and give oral, written, graphic, and cartographic expression to conclusions

Three Religions, One Sacred Place Order Now »

Summary:
How can one place belong to three religions? Students will explore how religion is reflected in culture and the key architectural features of the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will compare and contrast the three religions’ beliefs, behaviors, and culture. Students will write 3 explanatory paragraphs describing how the three monotheistic religions share common roots and therefore architectural features as well as participate in a Paideia Seminar exploring how the three religions currently share holy sites and whether the current agreement about how to do that is working. Students will read complex texts and complete graphic organizers to build their understanding of the three religions. This will be their material for their essay. After, students will use this knowledge and apply it to the current situation in Jerusalem. Students will use maps, virtual tours, and new articles to complete this Cornerstone.

Standards:
6.3.5: Map the distribution patterns of the world’s major religions, and identify architectural features associated with each.

6.3.8: Identify the cultural contributions of various ethnic groups in selected world regions and countries, including the United States.

Airpocalypse Order Now »

Summary:
Is living in a city worth it? In this Cornerstone, students will learn about urbanization and interrelationship population distribution patterns, climates, and pollution. Using China as a case study, students will explore how China’s rapid urbanization has led to pollution. Students will weigh the positive and negative consequences of China’s growth. Then students will take what they have learned about the effects of urbanization and apply it to DC, asking is it worth living in DC with its rapid growth and its plethora of environmental concerns. Students will make an argument for or against living in DC in an argumentative essay to the DC Department of Urban Development. Through a Paideia seminar and teacher feedback on graphic organizers and drafts, students will produce a polished essay. Students will also explore how economic growth contributes to urbanization and population growth. Students will use current news articles, maps, and graphic organizers to complete this Cornerstone.

Standards:
6.3.1: Explain key migration patterns and the interrelationships among migration, settlement, population distribution patterns, landforms, and climates (e.g., East Indian-Polynesian).

6.4.5: Map the worldwide occurrence of the three major economic systems: traditional, command, and market. Describe the characteristics of each and identify influences leading to potential change.

United Nations Simulation Order Now »

Summary:
What do countries owe each other? Students will understand the cause and effect of natural disasters on people around the world and how we, as citizens of the world, respond to these crises. This United Nations (UN) simulation allows students to build confidence as critical thinkers and public speakers by role-playing as delegates representing a country to solve a real-world problem. Students will work in pairs to investigate the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 on the people of the Philippines and analyze data about their own country to determine how they can best work with the UN to provide support by passing resolutions. Students will walk away from this experience with a stronger understanding of how the United Nations brings together countries to respond to international crises as well as discuss and evaluate possible authentic actions based on their role as global citizens and plan for their implementation. Students will use Paideia seminars, new articles, and videos to complete this Cornerstone.

Standards:
6.6.2: Identify ways in which occurrences in the natural environment can be a hazard to humans: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes and cyclones, and lightning-triggered fires.

Grade 7

Agricultural Revolution Order Now »

Summary:
Is farming better than hunting? Students will learn about how early human societies were transformed by the Agricultural Revolution so that they can determine and evaluate the merits of both hunting and gathering and farming methods. Students will analyze arguments in the affirmative and the negative of each position through the use of images and secondary sources. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will investigate the culture of both kinds of societies as well as determine which is most effective. Students will elaborate on their opinions of each society by developing an argumentative essay where they can either support or challenge the claims made in the articles.

Standards:
7.2: Describe how the development of agriculture related to village settlement, population growth, and the emergence of civilization (e.g., prehistoric art of the cave of Lascaux, the megalithic ruin of Stonehenge, the Stone City of Great Zimbabwe).

 

Ancient Egypt Order Now »

Summary:
Who had power in ancient Egypt? Students learn that the power structure in Egypt consisted of interdependent relationships among the different societal groups and greatly influenced by Egyptian’s beliefs in powerful gods. Students will analyze how the influence of various parts of the social structure affect each other and synthesize how certain social groups would respond to situations that would impact the civilization as a whole. Through 5E inquiry lessons students will explore the role of each social class in Egyptian society, evaluate the influence of religion on Egypt’s social structure, and analyze the purpose of monuments such as pyramids and the Sphinx. Students will draw conclusions about power in ancient Egypt to give advice to 6th graders about power structures at their school.

Standards:
7.3.5 Describe the relationship between religion (polytheism) and the social and political order in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

 

Hinduism and Duty Order Now »

Summary:
Is duty more important than individual desire? Students consider how civilizations in India emerged along river valleys because of favorable geographic conditions. They also compare the common characteristics of early Indian societies, including of government, social structure, politics, religion, writing, and art. Students read complex texts while taking the author’s point of view or purpose into account and analyze textual structure to determine meaning prior to writing a thesis-based essay.

Standards:
7.10.1 Identify the major beliefs and practices of Brahmanism and how they evolved into early Hinduism.

 

Greek Citizenship Order Now »

Summary:
What makes a good citizen? Students will learn about the three forms of ancient Greek government: tyranny; oligarchy; and democracy; so that they can determine the value of each one and evaluate the merits of each political system. Students will closely read primary and secondary sources in order to help form and validate their position on the compelling question, “What makes a good citizen?” and participate in a Paideia seminar centered around how democratic was ancient Greece. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will investigate the ideas behind each political belief system in order to help shape their own ideas on which is most effective and why. Students will participate in a simulation and analyze primary and secondary sources in order to draw conclusions about the role of citizens in different forms of Greek governments. Students will write a persuasive essay and take informed action by creating PSAs supporting their view of good citizenship and submit a school-wide plan for citizenship.

Standards:
7.8.3: Trace the transition from tyranny and oligarchy to early democratic forms of government and back to dictatorship in ancient Greece, including the significance of the invention of the idea of citizenship (e.g., from Pericles’ “Funeral Oration”).

Grade 8

We the People Order Now »

Summary:
Did the Constitution create the best government possible? Students learn that the U.S. Constitution is a living document with embedded democratic principles that guide how or government functions. In this Cornerstone, students play the role of expert in a simulated congressional hearing about various democratic principles such as federalism, checks and balances, and the role of political parties in our government. Through 5E inquiry lessons, they will prepare and deliver a four-minute speech as well as answer follow-up questions from a simulated congressional panel composed of experts in government, politics, and education such as elected officials. Students will work in collaborative teams to conduct research, write, edit, and revise their testimonies. Using the Constitution, current events, and other primary and secondary sources students will develop the evidence for their testimonies to demonstrate their expertise in the Constitution.

Standards:
8.3.6: Describe the principles of federalism, dual sovereignty, separation of powers, checks and balances, the nature and purpose of majority rule, and the ways in which the American idea of constitutionalism preserves individual rights.

Declaration of Independence Order Now »

Summary:
Why should people be free? In this inquiry, students will learn that the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence stem from colonial experiences and enlightenment philosophers like John Locke. In this Cornerstone, students will make connections between philosophical texts and explain how these connections have influenced our modern society. Through simulations and close reading students learn to determine the central meaning of rigorous historical texts as well develop their skills at analyzing historical connections and ideas. Using 5E inquiry lessons and a Paideia seminar, students will understand how the Declaration affects our society today to create their own philosophical framework. Supporting instructional documents include the Declaration, excerpts from John Locke, and close reading strategies.

Standards:
8.2.3: Analyze the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence, with an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights (e.g., key phrases such as “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”).

Westward Expansion Order Now »

Summary:
Does expansion always equal progress? Students will learn of the human loss and cultural elimination that Native Americans experienced during the years of westward expansion. Students will play the role of advocates and utilize their voice to influence the actions of our Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Students will analyze primary and secondary sources to participate in a Paideia Seminar discussing whether the benefits of United States progress outweighed the costs. In 5E inquiry lessons they will prepare for the Paideia Seminar by investigating the benefits of homesteading, prospecting, and increasing of slave plantations to the United States by expanding the country westward and analyzing primary and secondary sources that demonstrate the impact of events such as the Trail of Tears, Native American Boarding Schools, and broken treaties. Using an exemplar voice thread, students will outline the benefits of westward expansion as well as the costs to illuminate the current state of Native Americans, and create an original idea for reparations for these costs or argue that reparations should not happen.

Standards:
8.9.5: Describe the purpose, challenges, and economic incentives associated with westward expansion, including the concept of Manifest Destiny (e.g. accounts of the removal of Indians, the removal Indians, the Cherokees Trail of Tears, and settlement of the Great Plain) and the territorial acquisitions that spanned numerous decades.

The Triumphant Failure Order Now »

Summary:
What is our moral obligation in times of great crisis? In this Cornerstone students will investigate the nature of protest and societal change through a close examination of the causes and consequences of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and his earlier activities in “Bloody Kansas.” Within the historical context of abolitionism and reform students will pay particular attention to whether the means (violent protest) were justified and were the most effective way of accomplishing the goal (abolition of slavery). After building skills in evaluating primary sources, and participating in a Paideia seminar, students will write an essay that responds to the compelling question.

Standards:
8.10.3: Identify the various leaders of the abolitionist movement (e.g., John Quincy Adams, his proposed constitutional amendment and the Amistad case; John Brown and the armed resistance; Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad; Theodore Weld, crusader for freedom; William Lloyd Garrison and The Liberator; Frederick Douglass and the Slave Narratives; Martin Delany and The Emigration Cause; and Sojourner Truth and “Ain’t I a Woman”).

Grade 9: World History I

Aztec and Inca Order Now »

Summary:
Were the Aztecs and Incas destined to fall? In this cornerstone, students will explore the thriving, complex civilizations of the Aztecs and Inca before the arrival of Europeans. Students will examine images, artwork, and text on the Aztec and Inca civilizations to develop an understanding of these societies. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze the extent to which the Aztec and Inca were complex civilizations. Students will develop an outline for an explanatory essay to demonstrate the complexities of Aztec and Inca civilizations and create a museum display of their findings to be shared with parents and students. Resources include images, artwork, journal entries, and other primary and secondary sources.

Standards:
9.6.3: Explain how and where each empire arose (how the Aztec and Incan empires were eventually defeated by the Spanish in the 16th century).

Rise of Islam Order Now »

Summary:
Does religion unite or divide people? Students will learn about the development of Islam and its relationship to other major religions of the world. Students will analyze selected primary sources and engage in focused dialogue surrounding the core tenets of Islam and its current role in our world. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will develop arguments based on historical evidence to tackle the question of religion as unifying or divisive force. Students will then write a public service announcement discouraging Islamophobia, which they will produce and deliver to their school communities. Resources include primary and secondary sources, images, a current news article, and outlining and essay preparation documents.

Standards:
9.1.3: Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, including Islamic teachings on its connection with Judaism and Christianity.

Feudalism Order Now »

Summary:
Do leaders deserve loyalty from their people? Students learn that leaders in feudal Europe gain and maintained power based on the political, economic and cultural structures that arose after the fall of Imperial Rome. Students will participate in a simulation that places them in varying roles in the manor system. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze the ways in which leaders held power. Students will develop written comparative responses to the compelling question using modern examples. Resources include primary and secondary sources, graphic organizer, a simulation organizer and outlining and essay preparation documents.

Standards:
9.5.2: Describe the development of feudalism and manorialism, its role in the medieval European economy, the way in which it was influenced by physical geography (the role of the manor and the growth of towns), and how feudal relationships provided the foundation of political order and private property ownership.

Era of Enlightenment Order Now »

Summary:
Should leaders recognize your natural rights? Students will write an argumentative essay discussing the influence of Enlightenment ideas on the thoughts and actions of these enlightened leaders and evaluate the how their thoughts and actions reflected the ideals of the Enlightenment. Students will publish their essays as blog posts at UNICEF’s online medium Voices of Youth.

Standards:
9.13.2: Identify and explain the major ideas of philosophers and their effects on the democratic revolutions in England, the United States, and Latin America (e.g., John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Simón Bolívar, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison).

Grade 10: World History II

Innovation & Industrial Revolution Order Now »

Summary:
Does innovation equal progress? Students explore the role of governments and geography in the creation of industrial economies while evaluating both intended and unintended consequences of industrialization. Students read primary source accounts of workers and capitalists, summarizing based on evidence to assess benefits and costs of industrializing. They begin analyzing sources to determine perspective and using evidence from sources to write historical explanations. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will use research and writing strategies to produce an essay on industrialization’s impact on British children. Students will use a DBQ to understand why the Industrial Revolution began, leading to descriptions of Industrialization concluding in primary source material of various viewpoints during the Industrial Revolution. Resources include photographs, speeches, interviews, maps and book excerpts.

Standards:
10.1.2: Explain the connections among natural resources, entrepreneurship, labor and capital in an industrial economy.
10.1.6: Explain how scientific and technological changes and new forms of energy brought about massive social, economic, and cultural change (e.g., the inventions and discoveries of James Watt, Eli Whitney, Elijah McCoy, Henry Bessemer, Louis Pasteur, and Thomas Edison).

The Holocaust Order Now »

Summary:
Should bystanders be held responsible? Students will learn about the atrocities committed by German officials and citizens during the Holocaust and the role that bystanders had in the escalation and persistence of such discrimination and violence, as well as the actions that some witnesses took to resist the movement. Students will listen to and read testimonies from survivors of the time period from varying perspectives and degrees of resistance, from bystanders to Nazi officers. Through 5E inquiry lessons and a Paideia seminar, students will analyze the impact of the actions of resisters as well as the impact of inaction of bystanders and ultimately evaluate the guilt of bystanders who opt to do nothing in an atrocity. Students will empathize with victims of the Holocaust and reflect on their own potential for action in such a crisis, both collaboratively though a Paideia seminar and individually though an essay. Resources include personal testimonies (transcripts and video clips), photographs, letters, and speeches.

Standards:
10.8.5: Explain the background of the Holocaust (including its roots in 19th century ideas about race and nation); the dehumanization of the Jews through law, attitude, and actions such as badging, ghettoization, and killing processes; and how the Nazi persecution of gypsies (Roma, Sinti), homosexuals, and others who failed to meet the Aryan ideal.

The Cold War Order Now »

Summary:
Who’s to blame for the Cold War? Students will learn how the difference in ideology between the United States and Soviet Union led to tension at the end of World War II, and how subsequent events led to a Cold War lasting fifty years. Starting with analyzing the existing tension at the Yalta and Potsdam Conference, students will evaluate the impact of such actions as Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb, Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe, the initiation of containment policies such as the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, and the development of the nuclear weaponry and space technologies. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze primary and secondary sources from the Soviet and American perspective to evaluate the effect of each event on the tensions between the two Super Powers. Students will utilize sources to participate in a Paideia seminar to begin to place blame on one country or the other, and construct an argumentative essay arguing that one Superpower is to blame for the Cold War, ultimately contributing to a class current event commentary blog after reading and analyzing news articles about current US-Russian relations. Resources include photographs, political cartoons, news articles, speeches, correspondence, and press releases.

Standards:
10.10: Students explain the causes, major events, and global consequences of the Cold War.

African Freedom Movements Order Now »

Summary:
What is necessary for freedom? Students will analyze African independence movements by examining primary and secondary sources to evaluate the effective measures of collective action and the challenges faced by African countries following independence. Then, students participate in a Paideia Seminar on Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Speech to determine when freedom can be attained and what is necessary for freedom. After engaging in the Paideia Seminar, students will write a reflective essay to answer the compelling question using sources explored in this Cornerstone.

Standards:
10.11.3: Explain the Pan-Africanism movement, the formation of the Organization of African Unity, and various independence movements (e.g., Congo conflict and Patrice Lumumba; struggle over Angola and Mozambique; and the Zimbabwe War of Independence) and African American support (e.g., the Council on African Affairs and the African Liberation Support Committee)
10.11.11: Describe the challenges in the region, including its geopolitical, cultural, military and economic significance and the international relationships in which it is involved

Grade 11: U.S. History

Washington v. Dubois Order Now »

Summary:
How is progress achieved? In the aftermath of the Civil War, African American leaders Booker T Washington and W.E.B. DuBois debated different plans for achieving racial equality. In the late nineteenth century both sought to uplift African Americans, but one believed it came through accommodation and manual training, while the other urged resistance and the liberal arts. But Is it that summarization oversimplified? Was Washington a narrow, uncreative booster of commercialism or a savvy politician? Was Dubois a heroic intellectual activist or an elitist whose path to uplift was open only to the “Talented Tenth”? Students will gain an in depth understanding of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois and their ideologies through several primary and secondary sources. Students will use texts to debate the value of industrial education versus liberal arts education (as articulated in the ideas of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois, respectively). Students will debate in a Paideia Seminar and write a reflection piece intended to be shared with DCPS leaders in order to influence district curriculum, goals, policies. Sources will include excerpts from Booker T. Washington’s “Up From Slavery” and W.E.B. DuBois’ Souls of Black Folk.

Standards:
11.4.6: Debate the value of industrial education versus liberal arts education (as articulated in the ideas of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, respectively).

The New Deal Order Now »

Summary:
Is helping the poor worth the cost? Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal permanently changed the role of government in this country. Some scholars look at the alphabet soup of the programs and consider the topic done, but to really understand the program and its importance, one must look not only at the programs themselves, but also the varied reactions to this system. In this Cornerstone, students will do in-depth analysis of New Deal programs. They will also evaluate a variety of quotations, political cartoons, and charts about the effects of the New Deal to develop a claim about the effectiveness of the program, and more importantly, the role of government in the economy. Students communicate their findings to officials in order to encourage the continuation of effective programs, or the abandonment of programs that have shown negative results.

Standards:
11.7.2: Describe the explanations of the principal causes of the Great Depression and the steps taken by the Federal Reserve, Congress, and presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat the economic crisis and mass unemployment.

World War II Debate Order Now »

Summary:
When is U.S. foreign intervention justified? Students investigate competing foreign policies of isolationism and interventionism, considering the rise of totalitarian leaders and the role of the United States as a world power. They analyze World War II through the European and Pacific fronts, issues around internment, and policies that led to the end of the war. Students read complex texts and analyze textual structure to determine meaning prior to writing an argumentative essay in response to a compelling question.

Standards:
11.8.2: Explain the origins of American involvement in the war, with an emphasis on the events that precipitated the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the decision to join the Allies’ fight against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan for the freedom of those oppressed and attacked by these Axis nations.

Civil Rights Movement Order Now »

Summary:
Was Brown v. Board a success? Many students have heard about the role Brown v. Board of Education played in desegregating America’s school system. In this Cornerstone, students go beyond the simple understanding of the court ruling and evaluate the effectiveness of the ruling’s impact both short- and long-term. Through the analysis of data and primary sources, students will access the importance of school integration in the United States today and assess if we have achieved the intentions of the Brown v. Board ruling.

Standards:
11.11.1: Explain the roots of the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights movement in the legal struggles and largely interracial coalition building of the 1940s (e.g., Congress of Racial Equality and NAACP Legal Defense Fund).

Grade 12: DC History and Government

The Founders’ Intentions Order Now »

Summary:
Are the Founders still relevant? Students will learn about the intentions of the Founders when they began to, figuratively and literally, build the new national capital. Students will learn what has stayed the same, and what has changed since 1790. Students will compare and contrast primary sources using several disciplinary lenses to assess and categorize what has stayed the same and what has changed. Through a Paideia Seminar, students will discuss the state of DC, as it compares to the Founders’ original intentions, and contemplate whether the Founders’ intentions should be taken into account in the cases for DC Statehood and budget autonomy. Students will evaluate each piece of evidence analyzed during the Cornerstone and select the piece of evidence that best supports their stance on whether the Founders’ intentions are still relevant today. Students will then use this piece of evidence in a social media post to inform their community of their conclusion and support their drawn conclusion with reasoning. Resources include maps, Acts of Congress, articles and images.

Standards:
12.DC.23: Students explain the relationship between the federal government and the District of Columbia as defined by Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution and the unique budgetary, legislative, and financial constraints placed on the District government by the U.S. Congress.
12.DC.4.2: Describe major provisions of the Residence Act of 1790.

Compensated Emancipation Order Now »

Summary:
What makes a law just? Students learn that as DC’s neighborhoods and communities- and the city as a whole- grew and changed over time, the federal government’s policy often played an important role in prompting social and demographic changes in the District. Students will read, interpret and analyze a pivotal piece of federal legislation –the Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 –in order to determine its historical significance and to evaluate the degree to which it was a ‘just’ law. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze and evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to develop a claim-counterclaim about the law and justify their claim-counterclaim with evidence. Students will extend their analysis in order to take informed action on the issue of reparations for slavery. Resources include photos, Acts of Congress, and other primary sources.

Standards:
12.DC.7: Students describe the effect the Civil War had on life in Washington, DC, and they explain the effects of Compensated Emancipation and the Emancipation Proclamation on the city.

Project Soapbox Order Now »

Summary:
When should people fight for change? Students will learn that throughout its history African-Americans have protested discrimination in Washington, DC in different ways and the fight to end discrimination is ongoing. Students will understand that some tactics are more effective than others. Students will analyze tactics used to fight discrimination in the past such as litigation, protest, and boycotts. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students will analyze the effectiveness of the tactics used in the past. Students will write and deliver a two-minute-long, persuasive Project Soapbox speech on the most pressing issue facing their community and make a call to action. Resources include videos, scenario analysis, excerpts from the U.S. Constitution, and speech-writing lessons from Issues to Action.

Standards:
12.DC.10.3: Explain how African American leaders resisted discrimination.

Home Rule Order Now »

Summary:
Should DC be a state? Students will learn about the lack of congressional voting representation and the current state of Home Rule in DC. Students will also learn about several plans for DC’s future that aim to remedy DC’s lack of congressional voting representation. Students will determine which plan is best suited to correct DC’s lack of representation and support their choice with articles and data presented in the unit. Students will produce an analytical essay in support of the plan they choose and use that thesis to write a letter to an elected official advocating their choice for DC. Resources include: diagrams, informational texts, and primary sources. Students will write a letter to an influential DC elected official advocating their position.

Standards:
12.DC.22.6: Review the reasons why Washington, DC, residents do not have voting representation in Congress, and assess the prospects for current efforts to get congressional representation for the District.

Grade 12: U.S. Government

The Founders’ Intentions Order Now »

Summary:
Are the founders still relevant? Students develop an understanding of the Founders’ reasoning for separating from England and creating their new nation. Students will also examine excerpts from John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government to compare his criteria for revolution to the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence. Through a Close Read of the Declaration of Independence and a Paideia Seminar, students will evaluate whether contemporary American society fulfills the Founders’ intentions for this country. At the end of the Paideia Seminar, students will select the piece of evidence that best supports their stance on whether the Founders’ intentions are relevant in American society today. Students will then use this piece of evidence in a social media post to inform their community of their conclusion. Resources include articles, images, and various primary source texts.

Standards:
12.2: Students formulate questions about and defend their analyses of tensions within our constitutional democracy and the importance of maintaining a balance between the following concepts: majority rule and individual rights; liberty and equality; state and national authority in a federal system; civil disobedience and the rule of law; freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial; and the relationship of religion and government.

Congressional Simulation Order Now »

Summary:
What makes a law just? Students will meaningfully engage with Article I of the US Constitution by simulating the difficulty of passing bills through a legislative body. Students will explore examples of justice through the application of laws and then try to write, work in committee, and pass their own laws in the classroom mock Congress. Through 5E inquiry lessons and simulation, each student will have drafted a bill and participated in a mock legislative session. During the committee cycle, students will get to engage with different completed bills and reflect on the legislative process with respect to fairness and justice and advocate for an issue of their choice. Resources include the Constitution, sample bills, bill drafting templates, videos, and authentic research for bill writing. Students will take bills passed by the class legislative body and send them to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton and the appropriate chairman of the corresponding Congressional subcommittee.

Standards:
12.3.1: Discuss Article I of the Constitution as it relates to the legislative branch, including eligibility for office and lengths of terms of representatives and senators; election to office; the roles of the House and Senate in impeachment proceedings; the role of the vice president; the enumerated legislative powers; and the process by which a bill becomes a law.

Project Soapbox Order Now »

Summary:
What is lacking in our American Democracy? Students learn that various rights are outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Students will understand that certain obligations accompany these rights and are a necessary aspect of a functioning democracy. Through 5E inquiry lessons, students evaluate the different rights and obligations of U.S. citizens and residents. Students will write and deliver a two-minute-long, persuasive Project Soapbox speech on one issue that is threatening to American democracy and make a call to action. Resources include videos, scenario analysis, excerpts from the U.S. Constitution, and speech-writing lessons from Issues to Action

Standards:
12.8.1: Discuss the meaning and importance of each of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and how each is secured (e.g., freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, and privacy).
12.8.5: Describe the reciprocity between rights and obligations, that is, why enjoyment of one’s rights entails respect for the rights of others.

Youth Vote Order Now »

Summary:
Does my vote matter? Students learn that there are many ways for youth to participate in American politics and voting is one of the most prevalent, yet despite these opportunities, the youth vote is lower than that of other demographics. Students will interact with multiple texts to identify ways in which US citizens are able to participate in American democracy. Through 5E inquiry lessons students will evaluate data on participation to identify what drives it, then hone in on youth participation. Students will evaluate arguments for and against youth voting (the reasons they do and choose not to). To take informed action, students will design a campaign in which they effectively persuade young people to vote.

Standards:
12.6.4: Describe the means that citizens use to participate in the political process (e.g., voting, campaigning, lobbying, filing a legal challenge, demonstrating, petitioning, picketing, and running for political office).

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