Hemispheres | College of Liberal Arts
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Hemispheres works with educators, school districts, and state officials to “fill in the gaps” between teacher knowledge and the set goals of curricular mandates.  As part of our efforts, we have created classroom-ready curriculum units utilizing primary source documents, area studies content, and classroom activities for middle and high school students.   

Our curriculum units include all of the tools (background information, primary source readings, detailed maps, worksheets, activities) to make them ready to use in the classroom with little preparation—and, best of all, they’re FREE.

Texas’ mandated content standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), are closely aligned to national standards in the social studies.  However, you should feel free to adapt the activities to fit your classroom and your state standards.

  1. 15 Minute History
    This podcast series covers topics in World and US history, drawn directly from the TEKS. 15 Minute History is a joint project with Not Even Past, a website with articles on a wide variety of historical issues, produced by the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin. This podcast series is devoted to short, accessible discussions of important topics in World History and US History, and features supplemental resources and primary documents for each episode. The discussions will be conducted by the award winning faculty and graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. 
  2. Digital Speakers Bureau
    This project consistes of short, animated videos that offer a European perspective on a wide array of topics including literature, history, government, art, and more. And new videos will continue to be added! Discussions feature the faculty,  graduate students, and visiting scholars at the University of Texas at Austin.
  3. Teaching from the Archives (2019)
    In 2019, Hemispheres put on a 4-day professional development workshop in which participants were trained to do archival research in the Harry Ransom Center with the goal of creating new lesson plans and activities for their classrooms. Using rare and unique primary sources from the Ransom Center’s collections, these curricula are the partial result of our workshop.
  4. NEW! Do the Right Thing: Reading about Social Justice around the World (2017)
    Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to speak openly with students about social justice issues, but that may be all the more reason to make it a priority. By talking with young people about topics that are avoided by other adults in their lives, you may give voice to students who feel marginalized. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Do the Right Thing: Reading about Social Justice around the World offers resources for classroom educators to address this important topic with students, while also integrating and enhancing both English Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum for the middle grades. The unit is written for social studies educators, their ELA colleagues, and library/media specialists who wish to strengthen civic participation and global awareness in students. These instructional materials were developed for Grades 3 - 8.
  5. International Studies Pre-service Educator Lesson Plans
    Hemispheres is pleased to be the recipient of a grant from the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding. The goal of this project is to create a sustainable teacher-training model that builds expertise in international studies across subjects. Pre-service educator lesson plans developed as part of this program are featured online.
  6. Celebrating Global Diversity: Exploring World Festivals in Elementary and Middle School (2017)
    This unit is based on a growing need to foster global awareness and strengthen multicultural literacy in young learners. Engaging global content will enable young learners to generalize from the study of world festivals and celebrations and apply that learning in others aspects of learning and their lives. Further, the global and multicultural content in the unit reinforces the social and emotional learning of students and validates the experience of all students in culturally diverse classrooms. Through an exploration of world festivals and cultural celebrations, this unit provides classroom-ready comparative lessons, group activities, and educational content appropriate for students in Grades 3 - 6.
  7. Teaching About Rights: Historical Context, Contemporary Challenges (2012)
    This curriculum unit was designed to examine the development of the concept of human rights over time. Throughout the unit, students use primary sources to examine the gradual bestowal of rights on different groups, the rights currently guaranteed by individual countries and international bodies, and the areas where rights continue to be in conflict. The unit ends with a discussion of emerging areas of human rights.
  8. Understanding Migration (2004; revised edition 2011)
    What are the reasons that large groups of people have found themselves moving from place to place? What effects does this movement have? And most importantly, how can such a fluid and nebulous concept be presented in a classroom in an easy-to-follow manner with clear lesson objectives and outcomes? Regional case studies were chosen to address these, and other, essential questions. Where possible, we have used primary source documents to present the information in each case study. There's even a PowerPoint presentation to help you get started! The new, revised edition incorporates suggestions from educators based on classroom use, assessment tools, and incorporates the revised TEKS for social studies.
  9. Restoring Women to World Studies (2009)
    Inspired by the 2007 Hemispheres Summer Institute of the same name, Restoring Women to World Studies explores the situation of women—historical and contemporary—in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, East Europe and Eurasia, and South Asia. Use primary source documents to discuss the contributions of notable women of historical and artistic spaces, examine concepts of gender roles and gender spaces, the issues that are driving women's movements today.
  10. Explorers, Traders, and Merchants: Tracking the Cultural and Social Impacts of the Global Commodity Trade (2007)
    Inspired by the 2003 Hemispheres Summer Institute for teachers, which explored cultural contact by looking at the food we eat, Explorers, Traders, and Merchants examines eight global commodities from their points of origin and the social, cultural, political, and economic changes they wrought along their way. Each case study covers the initial discovery of and/or access to a commodity, its progress from local good to international trade, the ramifications of large-scale production, and the drama of its boom-and-bust cycles through the years.
  11. People and Place: Curriculum Resources on Human-Environmental Interactions (2006)
    Inspired by Hemispheres 2004 Summer Teachers Institute, "People and Place: Human-Geographic Relations," this curriculum unit was designed to address human adaptation to and modification of the environment. Each case study includes myriad activities that build social studies skills by incorporating primary and secondary sources, presenting information in a variety of formats (including graphs, charts, and maps), including varied points of view, and using mathematical skills to interpret social studies information.
  12. Africa Enslaved: Comparative Slave Systems Outside the United States (2005)
    A Document-Based Question (DBQ) unit designed around the AP World History curriculum and aligned with Texas and National standards for history and geography, Africa Enslaved explores comparative slave systems outside of the US, with particular focus on Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Co-developed by LLILAS and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
  13. Teaching with Primary Sources
    Hemispheres is pleased to be the recipient of a grant from the Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region Center to promote the use of primary sources to teach world studies! Breathe realism and immediacy into learning by harnessing primary sources—the raw materials of history—in your classroom.