Social History for Every Classroom


Social History for Every Classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

Teaching Activities

SHEC’s teaching activities employ a range of active learning pedagogies designed to engage students and support their development of historical thinking and literacy skills.  Informed by the latest historical scholarship, the activities are ready for your classroom with all documents, worksheets, and step-by-step procedures included.

Role Play and Debate

Role playing and debate encourage active participation and help students to articulate what they have learned about historical point of view. These model activities support students as they use evidence to create talking points, plan a debate or dialogue, and make an oral presentation or take notes as active listeners.

Active Viewing: Historical Documentary

Active viewing pedagogy provides a structure for getting the most out of using historical documentaries in the classroom. The activities here demonstrate how to intersperse carefully selected clips with primary sources, worksheets, and discussion to maximize student engagement and understanding.


Smartboard’s unique features can help students build knowledge and visualize historical concepts. These lessons are designed to make use of those features and contain ready-made Notebook files.

Lessons in Looking

Visual materials (photographs, cartoons, paintings) are a rich and popular source to use with students. These lessons model how to use visuals as historical evidence rather than merely as illustrations.

Delving into Data

Numbers and statistics can reveal broad patterns in history. These activities will help familiarize your students with the use of quantitative data, such as charts, graphs, and tables.

Interactive Knowledge Building

These lessons model active, game-like ways in which students can construct historical knowledge, then use that knowledge to synthesize and understand broad historical concepts.

Group Work

Group work helps students engage with new ideas and often allows them to cover more material than they could individually. These lessons are designed to give students opportunities to collaborate, share knowledge, and take on different kinds of academic tasks.

Using Political Cartoons

Political cartoons are engaging but often highly complex sources of evidence about the past. These lessons help students understand the elements of political cartoons (words, images, and composition) and how cartoonists use them to make arguments.

Common Core Reading Skills

These activities help students develop and practice specific skills from the Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies.

Common Core Writing Skills

These activities help students develop and practice specific skills from the Common Core Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies.

Literature in the History Classroom

These activities use literature and poetry to help students understand how ordinary people experienced life in the past.

Other Activities

Great activities that do not fit into any other categories.