Congress, the President, and the War Powers (Fundamental Principles of Government)

This lesson will explore the implementation of the war-making power from the first declared war under the Constitution—the War of 1812—to the Iraq War. Using primary sources, students will investigate how the constitutional powers to initiate war have been exercised by the legislative and executive branches at several key moments in American history. They will also evaluate why and how the balance of authority in initiating war has changed over time, and the current balance of power.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Core Documents Collection: The Cold War

This collection of documents on the Cold War continues TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes and institutions in American history and government. The volume covers American aid to Europe in the early years of the Cold War and American intervention in subsequent years in conflicts around the world to contain the spread of Soviet power. Its documents also explore the dometic effects of the Cold War, chronicling how national security concerns affected relations between American citizens and between Americans and their government. Each volume includes:

  • Key documents on the period, theme or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context
  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

The Vietnam War Lesson Guide

Explore classroom lesson plans related to Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s 10-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, which tells the story of one of the most consequential, divisive and controversial events in American history. The series explores the human dimensions of the war through the testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Oral Histories, Photography, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade 9-12 The Dynamics of War Powers

This three-part lesson asks students to think critically about the nature of the War Powers identified by the Constitution. Beginning with the historical foundations of the War Powers as written in the Constitution, students will explore why the Founders identified the War Powers as they did, using primary sources to back up their arguments. Students will then consider how War Powers have changed over time, evaluating the evolving dynamic of powers between the three branches of government.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

The United States and North Korea are involved in escalating tensions related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. opposes North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, however, believes he needs nuculear weapons to remain in power. While war with North Korea is probably not imminent, the prospect has caused alarm. A nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea would have devastating consequences.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Memorial Day

Each year, on the final Monday of May, we celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a solemn day where we remember the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who died while serving our country. The Share My Lesson team has put together a collection of free lesson plans, materials and activities that honor our nation’s fallen soldiers by exploring the importance of Memorial Day and learning about the wars that caused so many casualties.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Fire Waiting To Be Lit: The Origins of World War I

This year (2014) marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. This lesson, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, examines the causes of WWI. The main article provides information on events leading up to the war and includes discussion and writing questions. Additional activities available are: The Bosnian Crisis of 1908; Did the Serbian Government meet the Austrian Demands?; What Country Was to Blame for WWI?; and two enrichment activities on cartoons and music.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans, Quizzes, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Art of the American Soldier: Stories from the Soldiers

This lesson encourages students to deepen their appreciation of war art through watching and listening to veteran war experiences. Students are then asked to point out details in the artwork they had not previously noticed before listening to the veteran war stories.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Why was the Civil War fought? How did Reconstruction change the relationship between the federal government, the states and the people? This video lecture explores these questions. It’s part of an online course taught by University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt III. “Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases” covers the topics: Where does the Constitution come from? How has it changed over the years? How do we know what it means?

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12