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2014 State of the Union Activity

Many social studies teachers ask their students to watch the State of the Union address. It is an important civic function that, unfortunately, many do not exercise. TCI would like to encourage students to become active listeners during President Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014. To help, teachers can use this activity sheet.  Download and print for your students before this Tuesday.


2014 State of the Union by

Dreams Progress: MLK Day Lesson

In this free lesson from TCI, students watch/listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and answer questions. In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students are assigned an excerpt from the speech. Pairs work together to find an image to showcase that depicts progress (or lack of) towards that dream. Pairs then travel to see all the excerpts and images created. In a whole class debrief using a human spectrum, students evaluate the total level of progress. Individually, students then create a photo collage which brings to life one of the excerpts.

MLK Day Lesson by TCI

Free TCI Lesson: Creating iMovie Trailers

In November I discovered the embedded video below which was  produced and created by middle school US History students.  This was created using only an iPad and the iMovie app.  I started playing around with iMovie and have fallen in love.  It’s super easy to put together a great looking movie trailer using their templates, which this teacher used.  One of the things I did not find, however, was the procedures the teacher used to get his/her class to complete the assignment.  There are plenty of YouTube tutorials (that one’s about 4 minutes long) on how to create a trailer, which is great but let’s be serious…kids don’t read instruction manuals.  They play and figure things out.  The lesson though, that’s something that you would have to create in all that free time you have (note: heavy sarcasm) So, in true TCI fashion….I have created a free lesson (see below the video) that you can use with students to create iMovie trailers!  Enjoy!


iMovie LG

Teacher Subscription Updates: Releasing December 23rd

On December 23rd we’ll be releasing new features to your Teacher Subscription.  Plan on subscriptions being unavailable from 11 am-2 pm Pacific while we work our magic.

We are making it easier to:
1. See what your students see

2. Use subscriptions on a tablet

3. Switch between lessons from anywhere

Watch our 2 minute video to see what’s coming on December 23rd.


December 2013 Teacher Updates from TCI on Vimeo.

Black Friday Financial Literacy Lesson

Would you like to take advantage of the upcoming Black Friday as a way to get your students to be financially literate? Use this two-day lesson with students to explore comparison shopping and credit card use. Groups of students prepare for a fictional news conference where they release resources both in print and digital formats to assist consumers to be savvy shoppers.  This lesson incorporates the Econ Alive! The Power to Choose and the Applying Economics activities geared to financial literacy standards.  If you like what you see, explore more with a 30-day trial of the program.


Free TCI Lesson: Veteran’s Day

Uncle SamThis is one of our favorite lessons for many reasons. It’s especially poignant as we approach Veteran’s Day.


Although the lesson is from our History Alive! Pursuing American Ideals program and centers around the Vietnam War, we think it’s appropriate for both middle and high school students. In order to tie the activity to Veteran’s Day, use the preview of the lesson only. In the preview, students “visit” the Vietnam Memorial. It’s really a whole lesson in itself and is a powerful way for students to connect with the upcoming Veteran’s Day holiday.

Great Tech Tools for Teachers

We’ve updated our list of great free technology sites and apps. Teachers don’t have to use technology to have powerful classrooms, but they can sure help! See how this guide, by the makers of History Alive, can create a spark of thought for educators just easing into using web 2.0 and mobile technology in their classrooms. One concrete idea is provided for each web site/app. You can learn more about how to create engaging classroom moments with TCI’s award-winning software by visiting us at

Follow @TeachTCI on Twitter and Facebook!

Flipping with TCI: Links to Resources

Flipped ExcuseHow do you create more time for class?  Meaningful time?


Teachers are always lookng for creative ways to create more time in class to do hands-on, student-centered lessons.  Flipping your class might be a way to do just that.  Flipping, essentially, is where you take typical content delivery (lectures, notes, readings) and move them out of class.  Time in class can then be devoted to delve deeper into topics and make sure that students achieve mastery through higher-order thinking activities.  There are many places you can go to learn much more about flipping.  One place I recommend is the book authored by the two teachers responsible for it: Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student In Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams.


TCI fits the flipped model extremely well!  We have completed two popular webinars which you can view here and here.  If you are planning on attending the National Council for Social Studies in St. Louis this year, you can also come to our pre-conference clinic where we will show how to flip your class with TCI and web 2.0 tools.  The embedded document below are some of the resources we will use during that session.


Tell us about your experiences with flipping.  What do you like? Not like?  What works well?  What challenges do you face?


Halloween Lesson for Elementary Students

Play a game of “What’s behind the blocks” with your students.

If you teach elementary school and want a fun activity that teaches some of the trivia related to Halloween in under 30 minutes, we have just the thing for you!

This activity uses a PowerPoint  provided by  You can download this template by clicking on the picture or clicking here. Halloween Game

    1. 1.  Print slide 5 and make 10-15 copies. Cut apart.
    2. 2.  Split the class into two teams.  Tell the students that they will play a Halloween trivia game in ten minutes.
    3. 3.  Pass out a set of trivia questions so that there are enough for two tothree students to share.  Tell the students they have ten minutes to read the questions and answers before playing.
    4. 4.  Have one of the teams begin (choosing questions at random) by answering the first question.  If they are correct, click the remove button (ONLY ONCE).  If the group is incorrect, allow the other team to answer.  A correct response is worth one point.
    5. 5.  Once there are three or fewer boxes remaining on the board, allow a team to try to guess the subject of the image beneath after they have responded to a question correctly.
  • The image is an oil painting by John Quidor entitled, “The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane” (1858).
  • When the game is over, you could give the students additional information regarding this wonderful Halloween story by Washington Irving and how Quidor used Irving’s vivid details when he painted the image.  Visit this great website by the Smithsonian for more info: .  You might even consider reading portions of the book to students as you look at Quidor’s painting.
  1. 6.  If a team correctly guesses the subject of the painting, award them two bonus points. Continue playing until all the boxes have been removed.

Salem Witchcraft Activity – Dot Game

View more presentations from Brian Thomas.
Are you a middle school or high school teacher that covers the Salem witchcraft trials?  If so, we have a great seasonal activity to try out with your students.  Following the idea from another TCI activity from the cold war era, we have adapted our popular Dot Game activity to be run to cover the suspicion-filled atmosphere surrounding the Salem colonies in 1692.
Download this slide share (above) as well as the activity directions (below) to conduct this 45 minute activity with your students.  This lesson strategy uses an Experiential Exercise to create a strong emotional response to content.  Make sure you save enough time to debrief the simulation and make a connection to the historical content.
Enjoy this thrilling activity with your students and examine an important part of history for the New England colonies at the same time.  For more great lessons from TCI, stop over and visit our social studies programs across grade levels.

© 2014 - Teachers' Curriculum Institute | Social Studies Textbooks & Curriculum for K-12 Schools