C-SPAN Classroom is an Important Tool for Social Studies Teachers
Now is a great time to be a social studies or government teacher, thanks in part to a multitude of technology resources that can help educators engage students, promote classroom deliberation and develop rich K-12 lesson plans.
An excellent example of those resources is the website C-SPAN Classroom, which provides high-quality, up-to-date teaching materials for social studies, government and world affairs. It’s an online arm of the popular C-SPAN cable television network, which telecasts a wide range of federal government proceedings and public affairs programming.
C-SPAN Classroom includes a robust collection of free primary-source materials that teachers can incorporate into social studies, government and civics lesson plans and classroom discussions. Among them are streaming audio and video clips, photo slide shows, downloadable historical documents, reports and lesson plans for all grade levels.
And they’re all free.
Streaming videos are among the most visible — and popular — content teachers can use to introduce students to the workings of government or to prompt classroom discussion on current events.
Video topics include:
- Current events.
- Historical events.
- National news.
- International news.
Videos illustrating historic events are among the most-viewed on the site. Among popular historic videos are the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, newsreel footage of the Gulf of Tonkin incident between the U.S. Navy and North Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s and newsreel footage of the Panama Canal construction.
Contemporary videos look at national debates over healthcare, race relations, immigration and law; others explore advances in science and technology.
In addition to streaming videos directly from the C-SPAN Classroom website, teachers can share videos with students, parents or colleagues using Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Videos also can be embedded into class websites or blogs.
An important part of a good social studies program includes giving students a chance to discuss and deliberate topics covered in class. Whether the topic is a local election, national healthcare initiative or a congressional decision, students should have a say.
To help teachers make that happen, the C-SPAN Classroom website offers a Classroom Deliberations page, featuring a selection of topics and related resources that teachers can use to facilitate classroom discussions.
The page is updated monthly with C-SPAN primary source video clips and newspaper articles on current topics. Teachers will find handouts, current events lesson plans and deliberation strategies that will help them to engage students in the discussions.
The Deliberations page is endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies, an advocacy group focused on providing leadership, service and support to social studies educators across the nation.
‘Members Only’ benefits
Even more free materials are available to teachers who choose to register and become members of the C-SPAN Classroom site. Among the site’s “Members Only” materials are:
- Daily “This Day in History” clips and study resources.
- Instructional DVDs on various social studies topics.
- Electoral College maps large enough for classroom display.
- Regularly updated lesson plans with related video links.
- Teachable video clips focusing on the U.S. Constitution.
Many of the lesson plans provided by C-SPAN Classroom are aligned with the English language arts portion of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Most U.S. states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS initiative, which establishes shared K-12 English language arts and mathematics educational standards. Common Core aims to ensure that graduating high school students meet baseline academic expectations, regardless of whether they attend college or enter the workforce.
Teacher registration on the C-SPAN Classroom site is free. When signing up, teachers need to provide their name, the name of their school, their teaching position, and an email address to receive weekly C-SPAN Classroom updates.
A lifetime of civic engagement
To become responsible citizens, students need a good grasp of how government works and how societies influence current and world events. Social studies and civics teachers can help make that happen by using technology like videos, online discussions and interactive lesson plans to inspire students to learn about their communities and promote a lifetime of civic engagement.