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Unlocking the Past

We have cultivated resources to develop students’ enjoyment and appreciation of history and civics while also deepening their reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Ideas to Tweak Your Instruction

Looking for new ways to engage students in studying history? Be inspired by the creative ideas shared by fellow middle and high school teachers, as well as experts in the field.

Whispers From the Past - NEW!!

Historical quotes are a great way for students to make connections to the past from their present-day lives. Asking students to agree or disagree with a quote and explain their reasoning is a powerful and easy way for students to evaluate what they know and think about a topic. Quotes can act as a basis for whole-class and small-group conversations as well as writing prompts before, during, and after reading. We’re adding new ones every month!

Thomas Paine Quote against a USA patriotic background and author name showing.
Quote from President Abraham Lincoln against a background of mountains and water

Text Sets

A text set utilizes a collection of texts and other materials on a particular topic or theme that allows students to access the same curricula from varying perspectives while building a shared understanding.

immigrant adults and children walking across land a landscape of the American flag.

Content-Area Literacy

Text Set: Immigration

We hope this text set fosters understanding, empathy, and a high level of engagement for your students as they explore the complexities of the immigrant experience through varying perspectives.

Person standing alone at the top of a mountain with the sun shining behind them.

Content-Area Literacy

Text Set: Unsung Heroes

Unsung heroes have fought injustice, advanced science, and transformed lives through kindness, courage, and ingenuity with little fanfare. They are the best of humanity.

Women marching in 2017 in DC

Gender & Diversity Issues

Text Set: Women Rise Up!

Learn more about the Suffragettes of the late 19th and early 20th century and how the movement for the 19th Amendment was not the end to women’s fight for equality.

Unlocking the Classroom

What does it look like when you integrate literacy development supports into your history and civics instruction? Let’s take a look!

Identifying Key Ideas and Supporting Details
These 6th grade students work on their own and with partners to navigate a text about Ancient Egypt. The teacher helps her students to identify key ideas, discuss details, and draw inferences from what they’re read.

Using Multiple Sources of Information
Watch as this 11th grade history teacher orients her students to the vast array of materials on the Civil War, including images, maps, and texts. Next, students use graphic organizers to help navigate the written texts.

Supporting Students' Engagement and Thinking

Overview of the power notes strategy

Comprehension Writing

Power Notes

Power Notes help students differentiate between main ideas and details while learning and writing, using a hierarchical structure that clarifies how ideas are connected. 

Multicultural high school students in Real World History discussion on Selma

Content-Area Literacy

Real World History

Real World History: A DC public school invites students to develop their skills as historians as they study the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural south to big cities.

Diverse Historical Book Lists

Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are a reflection. Books change your mind. ~Toni Morrison

head shot of Toni Morrison
Hand writing with a pen

Themed Booklists

Grateful American Book Prize Winners

The Grateful American Book Prize recognizes authors who create absorbing works of literature for 7th to 9th graders about American events and personalities.

Close up of fingerprints, target lines and action shots of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

Themed Booklists

Spies Like Us

Most kids go through a “spy” stage, and some never grow out of it! Whether it’s the gadgets, the secret identities, or the gathering of clues — spies are cool!

Detail of book cover Number the Stars

Themed Booklists

Those Who Risked Their Lives in WWII

Read about the underground resistance movement and brave individuals who helped shelter Jews, from the perspectives of both the rescuers and the survivors. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II. 

Author Interviews

Listen to your favorite middle grade and YA authors of historical fiction and non-fiction discuss their writing process, the importance of studying history and more.