Fantastic and Free(dom) First Fridays: Independence Day!!!!!

As we all gear up to celebrate our nation's independence this week, I always like to remind myself of the significance of the events of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras that led to the American colonies' declaration of independence from Great Britain. 

Given this tradition, and my hotter-than-this-past-weekend burning desire to pass along some great free resources related to American independence that can help our adult learners learn about our history and the importance of a civic-minded society, I'm posting this month's Fantastic & Free First Fridays edition in advance of the actual first Friday of July so it lands on your screen ahead of our formally established celebration of Independence Day. 

And, well, let's face it...
1. I'm trying to overcompensate for being late with my First Fridays post last month; 
2. You hopefully are taking a long weekend, so would you REALLY read this if it was posted on Friday?; and, 
3. If I'm being honest, I'm taking...hopefully....a long weekend as well.

What I AM NOT doing in posting today, however, is prematurely celebrating our nation's declaration of independence from Great Britain. That's because on this day 242 years ago—July 2, 1776—the Continental Congress of the American Colonies officially approved a resolution for declaring their independence from Great Britain. 

Happy (actual) Independence Day!

Yes yes, it is true that the Declaration of Independence—that beloved and radical founding document that is the symbol of our celebration this week—was not actually approved on the fourth of July. And although the "final" Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776 (although not by those holdouts from New York until July 9), it was not signed by the delegates of the Congress until August 2, 1776. (Even in that, not all of the delegates signed on that day...and some never did.) 

Not sure this was what the Founders had in mind when they
risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, but...
To get a quick history lesson that will help you get the facts straight, here's a great overview of the history of the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives. I promise you if you commit these fun facts to memory, you will be a hit at whatever barbecue, pool party, hotdog eating contest, or whatnot you attend this week to celebrate American independence. 

In the meantime, for July's Fantastic & Free First Friday Resource of the Month I am sharing with you a great resource loaded with more learning materials for helping teach all things USA than "athletes" descending on Coney Island this Wednesday will have nitrates in their competitive eating bodies—the Citizenship Resource Center from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. 

Designed for Citizenship Preparation, Relevant to All

As the name suggests, these fantastic resources made available from USCIS are designed to support people preparing for US citizenship. Because of this, they are geared in particular for English learners, which I especially love because there is a lot of great content available written at language levels comprehensible to a wider range of learners. 

Within the resource center, lessons, activities, and handouts help teach US history and civics—including American Government, American History, and Integrated Civics—all of which is covered on the Civics test that is administered as part of the naturalization process. (Here is an online Civics Practice Test that allows you to test your knowledge of US history and government.)

Lesson plans and corresponding handouts are provided to help learners prepare for the 100 possible questions they might be asked on the Civics test, meaning all of the resources are focused on core US history eras and topics. Within the lesson plans and activities section, there are lessons and corresponding handouts covering the following: 

Lessons provide guidance on the Civics Test question topics and
key vocabulary covered within the lesson.  
Beginning Level: 
- Your Government and You
Bill of Rights and Other Amendments
Equality and Freedom

Intermediate Level
Rights and Responsibilities
- Equality and Freedom
US History Since 1900

The Citizenship Resource Center also includes flashcards for developing the vocabulary needed for the reading and writing portions of the English Test, with handout activities that encompass all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. There is also a great Famous Americans download that includes both portraits and flash cards of the 12 Americans highlighted on the Civics test. 

If you are an organization serving immigrants, you can register to receive a free Civics and Citizenship Toolkit that includes immigration and civics publications, handbooks, and multimedia tools. One of my favorite resources within the toolkit is The Citizen's Almanac, a super-handy guide containing overviews of our rights and responsibilities as Americans, famous patriotic symbols and anthems, historical speeches, fundamental documents of American History, and landmark decisions of the US Supreme Court. 

Specifically for teachers, tutors, and volunteers working with learners who are preparing for naturalization, there is access to free training seminars offered around the country, professional development tools, and a smorgasbord of supplemental resource offerings related to US history and civics that would put any backyard July 4th BBQ to shame. 

Oh, and one more thing: there is a "Themed Resources" section of the Citizenship Resource Center as well, pulling together related content into one place for most of our national holidays, including this week's Independence Day

With so many great tools and resources available, the Citizenship Resource Center has a little bit of everything to help learners of all ages and backgrounds learn more about the history of our nation while promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship. So, while you are preparing your favorite mayonaise-infused dip or cracking open a bag of Doritos (my official food of summer) to celebrate our nation's independence, take some time to check out these great resources (and maybe learn a thing or two). 

But Wait...There's More!

As if the Citizenship Resource Center didn't have enough red, white, and blue goodness, check out our Social Studies resource directory, located on the Skill Directory page of CrowdED Learning's website. There, you will find a number of additional resources that help teach US History (and more). 

While you are there, please also check out our newly added Communication Directory, which was (silently) released last month. This directory includes a number of great resources particularly geared toward English language learners. 

Want to join the crowd and be part of the solution? 
Please check out www.crowdedlearning.orgThere, you can learn more about our goings on and sign up to volunteer your expertise, stay in touch, or make content recommendations. 

As announced last week, we have a survey out designed to help us learn how we can better serve you in launching our own fantastic and free first product—SkillBlox. Surveys are due back by next Friday, July 13. We look forward to hearing from you!


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