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Best Civics Sites for Teachers
American Bar Association

For teachers and students, the American Bar Association offers a resource guide on how to organize a Civics and Law Academy, which engages middle and high school students in learning about law and society. The ABA accepts submissions for lessons and practices from local, state, and national law-related and civic education programs for its free resource guide. Most material is free. Level: Middle and high school

Annenberg Learner

Annenberg Learner develops and distributes multimedia resources for teaching and learning. Video components are enhanced with websites that include online texts, guides and extensive background information. For teachers, the website offers free professional development workshops and courses as well as the opportunity to earn graduate education credit. Resources are free online and available for purchase on DVD. Level: Kindergarten through 12th grade

Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

The Ashbrook Center, an independent center at Ashland University, provides a historical documents library, Exhibits on America's Founding, web-based lesson plans, and podcasts. Its "50 Core Documents That Tell America's Story" lists the essential documents that are a starting point for students and teachers to "think more deeply about what it means to be an American." Grade level: Middle and high school. Resources: Primarily free.

Bill of Rights Institute

The Bill of Rights Institute provides a trove of online educational resources for teachers and students as well as constitutional seminars around the country for teachers and the Constitutional Academy, a summer program for high school students. Students can play interactive games, watch videos or get help writing a paper. Resources for teachers include free lesson plans in e-newsletters and webinars. Materials on the website are free. The Bill of Rights Institute also has an online bookstore with many resources for purchase. Level: High school, middle school and elementary school. Highlights include: interactive Founding Documents; Constitutional Resources; Bill of Rights in the News; Americapedia.

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools

The goal of this coalition of 40 organizations is to improve civics education in schools. Among its many resources, Civic Learning Online provides free, public materials for educators.  Lesson plans and practices for all grade levels, professional development and related resources, and whole school or district models are available online at the website. The Civic Learning Database may searched by grade, state and civic learning approach (i.e., Instruction in History, Government, Law or Democracy, Guided Discussions of Issues and Current Events).

Center for Action Civics

The Center for Action Civics, the professional development branch of Mikva Challenge, provides the tools and strategies needed to engage young people in high quality Action Civics programming and experiential learning. The center’s website includes a database of free lesson plans and resources on a variety of civic education-related topics; Mikva's Action Civics curricula for purchase; examples of Action Civics projects; and more. Level: Middle and high school.

Center for Civic Education

The Center for Civic Education is an independent, nonprofit organization based in California. A network of program coordinators throughout the United States and more than 70 other countries administers a range of curricular, teacher-training and community-based programs. Some materials free; other material available for purchase. Level: Elementary, middle and high school. Highlights include:

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution: An instructional program on the history and principles of American constitutional democracy for all grade levels. The program is based on curricular materials developed by the Center for Civic Education. A simulated congressional hearing is the culminating activity.

We the People: Project Citizen: This program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students, youth organizations, and adult groups is designed to develop interest in public policy as well as the ability to participate in state and local government.

Resource Center: For high school students: links to biographies, historical documents, images and firsthand accounts of historical events. For teachers: free professional development opportunities, free lesson plans, classroom activities.

Podcasts: Users can subscribe to four different podcasts, 60-Second Civics and quiz, Talking Civics, Conversations on Civics and Education for Democracy. Also a series of podcasts supplement text of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution.

Center on Congress at Indiana University

Directed by former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, the center and its site cover all aspects of the legislative branch and civic involvement. Interactive learning activities are aimed at the general public as well as schools. The online material is free; books available for purchase. LEVEL: Middle and high school. Highlights include:

Interactive Learning Modules: These activities teach students about topics such as How a Member Decides to Vote, The Impact of Congress, The Importance of Civic Participation, The Dynamic Legislative Process, The Many Roles of a Member of Congress, and Federal Budget Allocation.

Virtual Congress: This is a fully functional online replica of Congress in which students become lawmakers and propose ideas for legislation, discussing them in-world with other students, and working in realistic 3-D locations that include the House and Senate chambers.

Facts of Congress: For middle school students, 60-second videos all about Congress and how students can participate.

Civics Renewal Network

Teachers can find an array of free, standards-aligned online classroom resources at this new one-stop website for teaching civics education. The material features the best of 26 organizations in the Civics Renewal Network. All grade levels.

Colonial Williamsburg

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia—the restored
18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World. Here we interpret the origins of the idea of America, conceived decades before the American Revolution. The Colonial Williamsburg story of a revolutionary city tells how diverse peoples, having different and sometimes conflicting ambitions, evolved into a society that valued liberty and equality. Americans cherish these values as a birthright, even when their promise remains unfulfilled. The Colonial Williamsburg
Foundation’s web site offers a wealth of fully vetted online resources covering a wide range of early American history topics in various reference categories.

Constitute

Developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, the website contains the constitution of nearly every independent state in the world, as of September 2013. It allows the user to search by country and by topic. The website is free. Level: Middle and high school

Constitutional Rights Foundation

The CRF is a nonpartisan, nonprofit community-based organization that focuses on law and government and civic participation by young people. Its site pulls together resources for curriculum and professional development. Its outreach programs include a Mock Trial competition and other academic competitions and Courtroom to Classroom outreach. Free lesson plans are available on U.S. history, world history and government. Some materials are free; others available for purchase. Level: Primarily for middle and high school, but also some material for younger students

Companion websites include:

Educating About Immigration:  An information clearinghouse on topics of U.S. immigration, its history and current controversies.

Civic Action Project: A practicum for high school students in civics and government in which they integrate the content of a government class with hands-on learning about public policy in the real world.

Judges, Courts and the Law: Activities, games and stories instruct students on the courts’ role in our government.

CFR Blog: This site features discussion and information for all social studies educators.

Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago

This nonprofit and nonpartisan organization provides resources for teachers to develop critical thinking skills, civic involvement and commitment to the rule of law by young people. Among its many resources, the CRFC offers a multi-grade (1-8) curriculum called Educating for Democracy that develops democratic knowledge as well as reading, communication and cooperative problem-solving skills. Single and multi-unit classroom lessons focus on basic constitutional principles, democratic procedures, and law-related education strategies for elementary and middle school students. Other resources include public policy programs, teacher development and mock trial materials. Resources: Some are free; others are for purchase. Level: elementary, middle and high schools

Constitutional Sources Project

This project, also known as ConSource, is a free online library of constitutional history. ConSource contains an educational program called Primary Sources, in which educators share lesson plans that use primary source documents. Level: Upper elementary, middle and high schools

Courts in the Classroom

Created by the State of California’s judicial branch and the Constitutional Rights Foundation, this site uses animated story videos and quizzes to teach students about Big Ideas, such as due process, free expression and checks and balances; the Third Branch, what courts and judges do; Landmark Cases related to the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. A teacher’s guide is provided. The site is free. Level: Middle and high school

C-SPAN Classroom

The cable channel’s site features a wealth of audio and video clips, both current and historical, related to government, history, other civics topics, and news abroad. Teacher registration is required to access free forums, lesson plans and Constitution Clips. Links to other C-SPAN resources for educators include: American History TV, American Presidents, Politics, Economic Stimulus, Presidential Libraries, Radio Specials, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the White House and U.S. Economy. Each of these sites features extensive resources on the topic. Tutorials explain how teachers can use C-SPAN resources. Congressional Chronicle follows lawmakers and bills on a daily basis. A daily compilation of news about education is featured as well. All resources are free.

The site also contains TV and radio programs that feature, among other resources, recordings of past presidents and oral history interviews with presidents; Supreme Court oral arguments in landmark cases and videos of justices; and interactive Supreme Court timeline. The resources are free. Level: Middle and high school

Dirksen Congressional Center

Named for Everett Dirksen, who served in the U.S. House and Senate, the site promotes civics engagement by providing a better understanding of Congress and its members. Extensive information covers modern and historical information, the legislative process, the current Congress’ activities, and lawmakers’ duties. Congress for Kids helps elementary school students understand government, the Constitution and voting, and includes an online learning module Democracy Kids. The site provides an extensive number of lesson plans, an interactive Congressional Timeline; webquests; online textbooks; an online civics/government course called Congress in the Classroom; and interactive activities for younger students. Level: Elementary, middle and high school

First Amendment Center

A Vanderbilt University site funded by the Freedom Forum, the First Amendment Center provides current news and information about First Amendment issues in the court and Congress, summaries of court cases and expert commentary and analyses of events. Lesson plans, videos, RSS feeds, podcasts and an interactive glossary are provided. The content is free. Level: Primarily for middle and high school, but also some resources for younger students.

George Washington's Mount Vernon

At the Mount Vernon website, teachers will find lesson plans for all grade levels, videos of people from Washington’s life and DVDs of distance-learning broadcasts. Students will find a digital encyclopedia about Washington and key facts about the first president. The Fred W. Smith National Library provides research about George Washington, Colonial America and the Revolutionary Era. Level:  All grades. Resources: Free

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states, including a website that features more than 60,000 unique historical documents. Grade level: Middle and high school. Resources: Free

iCivics

An initiative of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, this site features online lessons covering the three branches of government and interactive games that cover citizenship and participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, separation of powers, budgeting, and the executive, judicial and legislative branches. Online discussion forums allow teachers and students to give feedback on various topics. Teacher resources include curricula that complement the games, webquests, lessons and activities. Resources are free. Level: Middle and high school

James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. The James Madison Fellows have created lesson plans on the Constitution available on the website. Resources: Free

Library of Congress
America's Library

“America’s Library” provides classroom materials from a vast array of primary sources – documents, photos, objects – about events and significant figures in U.S. history. Two sections are particularly relevant for educators: America’s Story from America’s Library and for Teachers. The resources are free online, and some material is downloadable. Lesson plans on American history are supplemented with primary sources from the Library of Congress collection. Class starters include Today in History and American Memory Timeline. Interactive learning activities are available for younger children. Several professional development programs for teachers are offered. The content is free. Level: Elementary, middle and high school.

National Archives

The National Archives and the Center for Civic Education partnered to create Docs Teach, a series of lesson plans that use primary sources to teach about different periods of U.S. history and the Constitution. It also provides numerous links to state and regional primary sources and presidential libraries as well as professional development for teachers. The material is free. Level: Middle and high school.

National Center for State Courts

The National Center for State Courts is an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization founded at the recommendation of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. The center has created a series of graphic novels has been developed to educate the public and students about how the courts work and their role in a democratic society. The three novels created address Internet piracy, stolen identify and jury duty. The novels are downloadable online or available for purchase with accompanying lesson plans. Level: Middle and high school

National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center site addresses topics related to the Constitution as well as civic participation and responsibility, and the executive branch. Printed materials include lesson plans. Online resources are interactive games, videos, webcasts, primary and secondary sources, Constitution Fast Facts, biographies of Constitutional Convention delegates, and an interactive Constitution guide. The Exchange is a public forum for high school students to discuss important current events issues. For teachers, it offers professional development programs. Resources are free. Level: Elementary, middle and high school

National Endowment for the Humanities

The organization’s EDSITEment project provides comprehensive lesson plans on American history, social studies and civics, government and society, among others. Its Introduction to Advanced Placement U.S. History Lessons contains scholar-reviewed website and primary sources; lesson plans focused on the Document Based Questions in the AP exam; and lesson plans based on active learning, mastery of content and engaging the student. Resources are free. Level: Kindergarten through 12th grade.

National History Day

National History Day makes history come alive for students by engaging them in the discovery of the historical, cultural and social experiences of the past. Through hands-on experiences and presentations, today's kids are better able to inform the present and shape the future. NHD inspires children through exciting competitions and transforms teaching through project-based curriculum and instruction. Grade level: Middle and high school. Resources: Free

National Priorities Project

The goal of this website is to make the complex federal budget process easier to understand and more accessible so individuals can
better understand how their tax dollars are spent and how they can participate in the budget process. For teachers and students, Federal Budget 101 provides a plain English guide to the federal budget process. The Educator Toolkit offers activities for middle school, high school and college learners. A Federal Budget Timeline shows major milestones of the federal budget process. Level:
middle and high school. Resources: Free and for purchase

New York Times Learning Network

The New York Times’ content, current and historical, is the basis for teacher and student resources on this site. The Teaching Topics page is a living index page of links to resources on frequently taught subjects. For each topic, collected resources include lesson plans, related articles, multimedia, themed crosswords and archival material. Lesson plans cover numerous topics, including social studies, current events, civics and American history. The site also provides a daily news quiz, Word of the Day, Student Crossword, Today in History, and more. An online forum invites students to post their opinions on issues in the news. Resources are free. Level: Middle and high school

Newseum

This organization's website contains a Digital Classroom, which offers video lessons and viewing guides, primary sources, standards-aligned content, and integrated activities that support media literacy, critical thinking skills and civic engagement. Teaching modules explore the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement and Decision 2012, which examines the intersections of elections and the news media through the lenses of history, media literacy and civics. Level: Middle and high school

Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives

Lesson and activities that teach about the legislative branch are offered at the Office of the Clerk's Kids in the House. Resources are free. Level: Preschool to high school

Online Newshour Extra: For Students and Teachers

This PBS site uses current events as the basis for educational content revolving around news categories such as health, science, U.S. and history. Lesson plans based on current events contain videos, audio and photo essays; a forum for students to post essays, articles or comments on issues in the news. The material is free. Level: High school

Oyez

A free, online multimedia database of the U.S. Supreme Court, Oyez.org and its mobile apps offer plain-English case summaries, decision information, opinions, and transcript-synchronized audio for every recorded case in Supreme Court history. The transcript-synchronized audio allows users to hear what it's like to be present at the Court for arguments or opinion announcements, and to catch the subtleties and emotion unavailable simply from reading the transcript. Users can also clip and download segments of audio or entire arguments as MP3s. Oyez engages a non-legal audience, primarily students, with the judicial branch to promote public understanding in a historical and contemporary context. Resources are free. Level: middle and high school.

Presidential Libraries

The National Archives offers a list of links to the presidential libraries that have resources for students and teachers. The material is free. Level: All grades

PBS Learning Media

The Public Broadcasting Systems’ site for teachers covers all subject areas, including civics participation, community, the three branches of government, politics, economics, current events, the courts and history. Lesson plans are free, with some material downloadable. Videos and audio recordings supplement lesson plans; interactive activities for younger children are available in the Democracy Project. Teachers have access to discussion forums, online professional developments courses, and an archive of webinars. Most of the content is free; teacher courses available for purchase. Level: Preschool, elementary, middle and high school

Share My Lesson

Teachers share their learning materials for all grade levels. The resources can be downloaded for free. An online forum lets teachers
exchange ideas and advice and share best practices. Share My Lesson also provides a resource bank for the Common Core State Standards, which has advice and guides for teachers. Level: All grades. Resources: Free

Street Law

Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society partnered to create Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court, which explores 17 key cases. In-depth information about each case, related activities that involve interactive teaching strategies and external resources are provided. A Resource Library has compiled hundreds of teaching activities, case summaries, mock trials and articles. The material is free. Level: Middle and high school

U.S. Courts

This government site focuses on Court Literacy, featuring free, downloadable in-depth resources to help students understand how the courts work, key amendments to the Constitution, federal court basics and fast facts, legal concepts, legal landmarks and Supreme Court cases. Classrooms to Courtrooms provides real-life teen-related scenarios to stage in-class or in-court simulations of trials with accompanying scripts. You Be the Supreme Court features comprehensive material for a class to simulate Supreme Court deliberations. Sections on the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment gives teacher a variety of formats to present to a class, including Oxford-style debate or a Supreme Court case conference. Homework Help is a set of links to related websites. Videos and podcasts are also provided. Material is free. Level: Middle and high school

U.S. Government Publishing Office

This comprehensive site includes Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids, which features information about all aspects of government, citizenship, elections and voting. It also provides links to kids’ sites for most government agencies. Activities include print games, interactive games and activities; information pages; links to other government agencies’ curriculum; and a glossary. Content is free. Level: Elementary, middle and high school

WhatSoProudlyWeHail.org

This site focuses on literary-based curricula for instruction of U.S. history, civics, social studies and language arts. Resources include lesson plans, video seminars, and primary resources. Content is primarily free. Level: Middle and high school

Youth Leadership Initiative

The University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative has created three interactive simulations. E-Congress, a free, interactive, national online simulation lets students play the part of a member of the House. They research issues, write legislation, debate bills in committee and work to move their bill to the House floor. Students use innovative technology to interact with their legislators and to connect with their peers around the country. Mock Election is conducted each fall by the Youth Leadership Initiative  for students around the nation using electronic ballots designed for each student’s home district. A More Perfect Union simulates an actual campaign for Senate. The site also provides teacher-developed lesson plans and a service-learning program called Democracy Corps. Level: Middle and high school