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Standards Index: CCSS.ELA.LITERACY.RI.11-12.3

Find lessons and videos that align with CCSS.ELA.LITERACY.RI.11-12.3

Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequences of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact or develop over the course of a text.

1912 Republican Convention: TR Starts the Bull Moose Party

Students will learn how former President Theodore Roosevelt used the newly created direct primary system to challenge incumbent President William Howard Taft for the Republican Party’s nomination in 1912.

1976 Republican Convention: Ford vs Reagan

Students will learn the context surrounding the battle between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford at the 1976 Republican National Convention, one of the only party conventions in modern history in which an active contest for delegates at the convention determined the outcome.

1924 Democratic Convention: Immigrants vs the Ku Klux Klan

Students will learn how the 1924 Democratic National Convention became a raucous battleground over the influence of the Ku Klux Klan.

1964 Republican Convention: Chaos & Conservatism

Students will learn how Senator Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964 led to a disastrous Republican convention and a Democratic landslide in November, but not without giving birth to the conservative movement that has come to dominate today’s Republican Party.

1968 Democratic National Convention: The Mess in Chicago

Students will learn how internal tensions over Vietnam and the cultural changes of the 1960s led to violence and chaos at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

2004 Democratic Convention: The Importance of the Keynote Speech

Students will learn how the communications professionals at national party conventions choose speakers and coordinate messaging, and how Barack Obama was chosen in 2004 to make the keynote speech that launched his national political career and changed the course of American history.

Atomic Fears and the Arms Race: Nuclear Testing

Students will learn how the nuclear arms race impacted different aspects of society – including soldiers who were exposed to radiation during early atomic testing – and how it continues to impact them today.

Campaigns and Elections: The 2000 Election

Students will learn why the 2000 presidential election, a race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, was decided by the Supreme Court, and how that led to changes that continue to influence our elections today.

Conspiracy Theories: From JFK’s Assassination to Today

Students will learn about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, including surrounding conspiracy theories, to explore the deeply ingrained American tendency to mistrust government – a characteristic of our national political culture that is as old as the Revolution, and has been magnified by the internet age.

Coronavirus: Lessons From Past Epidemics

Students will learn lessons from history for dealing with the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic by understanding the connections to previous global public health campaigns to eradicate smallpox and polio.

Dr. Martin Luther King at Gee’s Bend

Students will learn the history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight for voting rights in Gee’s Bend, Ala., a town whose status today shows both the achievements and unfinished work of King’s movement.

Ecology: The Yellowstone Wildfires of 1988

Students will learn how the Yellowstone fires of 1988 created a national controversy that challenged long-held assumptions about the role that fires should play in forestry policy.

Election of 1860: Slavery Splits the Democrats

Students will learn how the issue of slavery caused a split in the Democratic Party that led to the Civil War and paved the way for 50 years of Republican dominance in national politics.

Emergence of the AIDS Crisis

Students will learn the historical context of the AIDS crisis in the United States in the 1980s, and where it stands today.

Extremism, ISIS and the Doomsday Cults of the 1970s

Students will learn how the wave of extreme cults that swept the U.S. in the 1970s holds surprising lessons for confronting 21st century international terrorism.

From Watergate to Campaign Finance Reform

Students will learn how the Watergate break-in and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon changed the way political campaigns were funded, and what that means for today.

George C. Wallace and the Politics of Segregation

Students will learn how Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s evolving positions on race reveal both the intensity of the white backlash to desegregation during the 60s and the growing political power of the black community during the 70s and early 80s.

How to Fact-Check History

Students will learn about the methods professional news organizations and historians use to check facts and how that applies to their own work. 

Human Geography: The Population Bomb

Students will learn why concerns about population growth first emerged in the 1970s, why predictions about population were wrong, and what that means for today.

Immigration in the 1990s: Proposition 187

Students will learn about the anti-immigration movement in California in the 1990s, and why it is relevant today.

Influencing Public Policy: Food Safety

Students will learn how human-made catastrophes can help to shape federal policy on food safety.

Influencing Public Policy: The Story of Thalidomide

Students will learn how a prescription medication’s devastating side effects shocked the nation decades ago and led to today’s federal drug safety guidelines.

Influencing Public Policy: Vaccines

Students will learn about the importance to public health of vaccines. They will gain news literacy by examining troubled reporting and public health messaging around the measles vaccine, and discover why we’re dealing with the repercussions today.

Jimmy Carter and the Rise of Evangelical Voters

Students will learn how the cultural and political trends of the 1960s and 1970s led to heightened political engagement among evangelical Christians and the emergence of a powerful new conservative movement.

Journalism and Media Literacy: McDonald’s Hot Coffee

Students will learn how an attention-grabbing news story can easily be misunderstood, resulting in a false narrative that becomes deeply ingrained in the national culture. Journalism students will learn the importance of providing context.

Love Canal and the Environmental Protection Agency

Students will learn how toxic waste dumped under the community of Love Canal led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program.

McCarthyism: Populism and the Press

Students will learn how Joseph McCarthy rode to power on a wave of anti-communist fears, and how television contributed to both his rise and fall.

Media Lit/Journalism: Campaign Ads That Made History

Students will learn how three famous campaign ads ("Daisy Ad," "Morning in America" and "Willie Horton") changed how political advertising is made, and changed the course of history.

Nixon and the Pentagon Papers: Presidents v. The Press

Students will learn about the Pentagon Papers during Nixon’s presidency, the long history of U.S. presidents battling national security leaks and the role of a free press in America’s democracy.

Nuclear Power: From Three Mile Island to Fukushima

Students will learn how nuclear energy’s prospects were dimmed by accidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima, and how modern concerns over climate change have sparked a complex debate about whether nuclear energy’s risks and waste are justified by its reduction in carbon emissions.

Political Debates and the Kennedy-Nixon Debate

Students will learn how televised political debates have impacted modern politics, with an emphasis on the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate, and their importance to campaigns and elections today.

Protests For Racial Justice: A Long History

Students will learn how current protests against police violence and racial inequality are connected to the past, and about the White House commission that released a report in the aftermath of the major urban disorders of 1967.

Public Policy: Welfare Reform

Students will learn how President Bill Clinton signed a welfare bill to reform a program created as part of the New Deal in 1935; and how the bill has reshaped the relationship between poor Americans and the government.

Race, the Media and the Myth of the ‘Crack Baby’

Students will learn how the news media contributed to a false narrative about the fate of babies born to mothers with addiction problems, what that narrative teaches us about the role of perspective and historical context, and how that false narrative continues to influence us today.

Reagan: Foreign Policy and a Story from Central America (El Salvador)

Students will learn how President Reagan’s administration, trying to stop Soviet communist influence around the world, supported authoritarian regimes, and the impact that had in El Salvador and in the U.S. then and now.

Second Wave Feminism, the Equal Rights Amendment and Phyllis Schlafly

Students will learn about the battle in the 1970s between feminists and a group led by the conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly over the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed Constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for women.

Suffrage for Black Women

Students will learn how Black women have often been at the forefront of activism and advocacy relating to ballot access, voter suppression, and the right to vote.

The Arab-Israeli War: America’s Role

Students will learn about the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, why the United States remained neutral and how the violation of that neutrality by a small group of Americans played a role in Israel’s victory.

The Battle for Votes: Gerrymandering

Students will learn the causes and effects of gerrymandering, and how court decisions authorizing race-based gerrymandering have reshaped American politics and created complex legacies.

The Birth of Party Conventions: the Anti-Masonic Party (1831)

Students will learn why the populist and conspiracy-obsessed Anti-Masonic Party held America’s first political party convention, a democratizing innovation that changed forever the way Americans choose their presidents.

The Birth of the Environmental Movement: DDT and Rachel Carson

Students will learn how the U.S. government came to develop environmental protection policies and what that means today as we struggle to balance the risk between pesticides and disease.

The Civil Rights Movement Expands: Busing

Students will learn what happened in 1971 when the U.S. Supreme Court authorized the use of cross-town busing to desegregate schools, and why much of the integration achieved through busing has unraveled in the last two decades.

The Civil Rights Movement: Black Power and Sports

Students will learn about protests in the 1960s among black athletes including Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and members of the 1968 U.S. Olympics team, and how their actions relate to modern protestors like Colin Kaepernick.

The Clinton Presidency: “Zero Tolerance”

Students will learn the social and political forces that led schools to adopt “zero tolerance” discipline policies in the 1980s and 1990s, and the racially unequal consequences of these policies today.

The Cold War and the Nuclear Weapons Threat

Students will learn about the Cold War-era nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, and its connection to the threat of nuclear conflict today.

The Cold War Space Race

Students will learn how the United States space program was fueled by Cold War rivalry, and how the U.S. government leveraged the program’s success in its public relations battle with the Soviet Union.

The Cold War: From the Truman Doctrine to the Berlin Airlift

Students will learn how the Berlin Airlift helped protect Berlin from Soviet control, contributed to the rise of NATO and set the tone for the Cold War.

The End of the Cold War: Nuclear Winter

Students will learn how a scientific theory of “nuclear winter” shifted the debate over nuclear weapons in the 1980s, and how that hypothesis connects to the 21st century challenge of climate change.

The Environment and Natural Resources: Wild Horses

Students will learn about efforts in the early 1970s to enhance environmental regulation and species protections and what happens when those policies lead to conflict – in this case over the wild horse.

The Geography of Racism: Housing Policy

Students will learn how racism became ingrained in the geography of American cities, and how innovative housing policies and data science are being used to counteract this.

The Korean War

Students will learn how President Harry Truman’s use of presidential power during the Korean War continues to influence U.S. foreign policy and military engagements around the world today.

The Moral Panic Over “Superpredators”

Students will learn how politicians of both parties used flawed predictions about the rise of a new class of youthful offenders known as superpredators to justify a series of dramatic changes to the nation’s criminal justice system during the 1990s.

The Roots of Recycling

Students will learn the story behind the recycling movement and examine how public attitudes have changed over the past five decades.

The Second Amendment: Siege at Waco

Students will learn how the federal government’s botched raid on the compound of the Branch Davidian religious sect in 1993 led to decades of controversy over Second Amendment rights.

The Space Race: The Challenger Tragedy

Students will learn about the development of the nation’s space program, including a seminal event during Ronald Reagan’s presidency: the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and its lasting aftermath.

The War on Drugs: The New Face of Heroin

Students will learn the origin and racial context of America’s multi-decade war on drugs, and the impact the changing demographics of heroin users have had on the debate and public policy.

Vietnam War: Agent Orange

Students will learn why the U.S. military decided to spray a defoliant chemical called Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and the lingering effects of that decision decades later.

Watts Uprising and the Militarization of Policing

Students will learn how racial discontent in the 1960s led to the creation of the nation’s first SWAT team, how the War on Drugs of the 1980s caused SWAT teams to be repurposed for drug raids, and how, in recent years, the SWAT approach to policing has fueled a nationwide trend: the militarization of local police departments.