K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

family in San Pablito, Mexico

This is a picture of a family in San Pablito, Mexico. More images can be found in LEARN NC's multimedia section. (Photograph by Janet Kier Lopez. More about the photograph)

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  • Comparing governments: International: This lesson focuses on comparing and contrasting national governments in North America and/or Central America. It is the second of two lessons about government. The other is Comparing Governments: Local, State, and National. This plan could be easily adapted for eighth-grade or high-school ESL students.
  • Of earth, water, and fire: World pottery traditions: In this lesson, a photo analysis activity helps students learn about pottery traditions from around the world. Students discuss how these traditions are similar to and different from one another.
  • To market, to market: Photograph analysis: In this lesson, students analyze photos of markets from around the world to gain an understanding of the similarities and differences between geographically distant places, to learn about the economic and cultural significance of markets, and to improve visual literacy skills.

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This is a compilation of some of LEARN NC’s best instructional resources for teaching about the countries, people, cultures, and geography of North America.

Lesson Plans

Comparing Governments - International
This lesson focuses on comparing and contrasting national governments in North America and/or Central America. (Grade 5, English Language Arts, English Language Development, and Social Studies)
Geo-friendly travel: Destination Honduras
In this Xpeditions lesson, students explore a partnership between the government of Honduras and the National Geographic Society to highlight the concept of geotourism and its benefits. Activities in this lesson engage students in whole class discussion, online research, development of information literacy and map-reading skills, and use of an interactive online tool. (Grade 5 Social Studies)
What they left behind: Early multi-national influences in the United States
The lessons in this unit are designed to help your students make connections between European voyages of discovery, colonial spheres of influence, and various aspects of American culture. ( Grade 5 English Language Arts and Social Studies)
Simplicity: A Literature Based Paideia Seminar
Students will apply their knowledge of how developments in the history of the United States, as well as the world, can impact the lives of people today. The lesson is based on the picture book entitled, The Simple People, written by Tedd Arnold and illustrated by Andrew Shachat. (Summary: The simple people enjoy the simple life until one of the character’s inventions is used to make life more complicated. As a result, everyone forgets the simple things in life.) After a Paideia seminar discussing the book, students will select a modern invention, research the history of its development and how it impacts society, and create a multi-media presentation. (Grade 5 English Language Arts and Social Studies)
Using timeline games and Mexican history to improve comprehension
This lesson explores Mexican history while engaging students’ active reading skills through the creation of a timeline. (Grade 5 English Language Arts and Social Studies)

Best Practices

The Role of Mexican Folklore in Teaching and Learning
One way teachers can connect with students of Mexican origin is by understanding the cultural knowledge they bring with them into the classroom, including the stories, proverbs, and legends they’ve learned. Learn more about Mexican folklore from this booklist and collection of online resources, and share this rich oral tradition with all your students.


The Canadian Encyclopedia Histor!ca
Discover Canada, the people, history and culture, using the search or the Timelines, plus the “Explore Canada” section has interactive maps, graphs and games.
The Evidence Web
Documents, including photographs, newspaper articles, letters and maps, about the exploration of Canada, the confederation (founding) of the nation, the prime minister of Canada, and more.
Pathfinders and Passageways: The Exploration of Canada
Learn about the explorers of Canada from prehistory to 20th century, presented, in most cases, from their own writings about their journey.
Mexico Facts and Pictures
Read about Mexico and get information, facts, photos, videos, and more from National Geographic Kids.