Humanities, social studies, literature and history are all core subjects K-12 students study throughout their academic years. And with technology increasingly available in classrooms, it’s easier than ever to use the internet to find quality humanities teaching materials.
One of the best sources teachers can turn to for quality lesson plans, interactive features and downloadable reading materials focusing on humanities is the EDSITEment! website.
The free website was developed and is maintained by the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the National Trust for the Humanities. Posted materials are selected by experts in humanities education from content found across the internet. Content from websites linked to EDSITEment! is reviewed for appropriate presentation, design and educational value.
Most lesson plans and classroom activities on the website meet K-12 educational standards for most states.
In the lesson plans area, teachers will find a treasure trove of humanities lesson plans categorized in a searchable database by subject, theme and grade level.
- Art and culture
- History and social studies
- Literature and language arts
- U.S. history
- World language
Each of the main topic areas has a multitude of subtopics with lesson plans and classroom activities covering everything from anthropology and art history to world cultures, social studies and civics. Teachers also may want to check out the Closer Readings blog, where regular postings look at unique ways to incorporate humanities education into various classroom environments.
The website’s student resources area is bubbling with a large collection of interactive activities, video programs and downloadable primary source materials. Covering literature, language arts, history and social studies, these materials can be used to supplement classroom lesson plans or as standalone activities in the classroom. They also are great for students in independent learning programs.
Here’s a sampling of some of the materials available:
- Art. The “Picture Lincoln” activity has students study photographs of Abraham Lincoln taken by photographer Alexander Gardner and answer questions from a worksheet provided by the National Archives as a framework for classroom discussion.
- History. The “Greek Alphabet Interactive” program teaches students about the Greek alphabet and how it evolved into the Western alphabet. By rolling their computer pointer over a collection of symbols, students see how the characters changed over time.
- Literature. Excerpts from “A White Heron,” a short story by American novelist Sarah Orne Jewett, include content questions and discussion points.
- Poetry. Poet Edward Hirsch reads his poem “Cotton Candy” and shares a backstory about it in a short video from the Academy of American Poets. A link to a companion lesson plan is included.
- Social studies. In “The Spanish-American War: Webquest,” students are journalists tasked with researching various aspects of the war and creating a magazine to show how the war changed American diplomacy.
Access to EDSITEment! features and lesson plans is free to teachers, students and parents. There are no advertisements.
Because of the vast amount of content on the website, it’s a good idea for teachers to log on and explore it regularly. They also can register online to receive email updates on new lesson plans and other classroom resources when they’re posted on the site.