• Thomas Edison's Inventions in the 1900s and Today: From "New" to You!

    Edison vitascope

    This lesson plan introduces students to Thomas Edison’s life and inventions. It asks students to compare and contrast life around 1900 with their own lives and helps students understand the connections between the technological advancements of the early twentieth century and contemporary society and culture.

  • Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe

    Walt Whitman.

    Clues to Walt Whitman's effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse may be found in his Notebooks, now available online from the American Memory Collection. In an entry to be examined in this lesson, Whitman indicated that he wanted his poetry to explore important ideas of a universal scope (as in the European tradition), but in authentic American situations and settings using specific details with direct appeal to the senses.

  • The Industrial Age in America: Robber Barons and Captains of Industry

    Industrial Revolution

    How shall we judge the contributions to American society of the great financiers and industrialists at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries? In this lesson, students explore a variety of primary historical sources to uncover some of the less honorable deeds as well as the shrewd business moves and highly charitable acts of the great industrialists and financiers, men such as Andrew Carnegie, J. Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

  • Jack London's The Call of the Wild: "Nature Faker"?

    Photo of the dog that inspired Jack London's Buck. Copyright Richard Bond and  Helen Abott.

    A critic of writer Jack London called his animal protagonists “men in fur,” suggesting that his literary creations flaunted the facts of natural history.  London responded to such criticism by maintaining that his own creations were based on sound science and in fact represented “…a protest against the ‘humanizing’ of animals, of which it seemed to me several ‘animal writers’ had been profoundly guilty.”  How well does London succeed in avoiding such “humanizing” in his portrayal of Buck, the hero of his novel, The Call of the Wild? 

  • Portrait of a Hero

    Benjamin  Franklin.

    Heroes abound throughout history and in our everyday lives. After completing the activities, students will be able to understand the meaning of the words hero and heroic.

  • Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and the Unreliable Biographers

    Engraving by Robert Anderson based on 1848 daguerreotype.

    We are naturally curious about the lives (and deaths) of authors, especially those, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Ambrose Bierce, who have left us with so many intriguing mysteries. But does biographical knowledge add to our understanding of their works? And if so, how do we distinguish between the accurate detail and the rumor, between truth and slander? In this lesson, students become literary sleuths, attempting to separate biographical reality from myth. They also become careful critics, taking a stand on whether extra-literary materials such as biographies and letters should influence the way readers understand a writer's texts.

  • I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Someone a Letter

    Using EDSITEment's vast online resources, you and your students read the correspondence of the famous, the infamous, and the ordinary and use these letters as a starting point for discussion of and practice in the conventions and purposes of letter writing.

  • Evaluating Eyewitness Reports

    Eyewitness

    Practice working with primary documents by comparing accounts of the Chicago Fire and testing the credibility of a Civil War diary.

  • Lesson 2: From Courage to Freedom: Slavery's Dehumanizing Effects

    One of Douglass's goals in his autobiography is to illustrate beyond doubt that slavery had an insidious, spirit-killing effect on the slaveholder as well as the slave.

  • Lesson 3: From Courage to Freedom

    Frederick Douglass.

    Frederick Douglass's 1845 narrative of his life is a profile in both moral and physical courage.  In the narrative Douglass openly illustrates and attacks the misuse of Christianity as a defense of slavery.  He also reveals the turning point of his life: his spirited physical defense of himself against the blows of a white "slave-breaker."