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Teacher's Guide Introduction

This Teacher's Guide provides lessons, activities and resources that will help teachers integrate social science data, concepts of measurement, social consequences of measurement, and the history of America as told by the numbers from the The First Measured Century. 

Teaching strategies and activities for each lesson contain many links to resources provided within this website and elsewhere. These resources offer primary sources, expert interviews and other materials related to historical uses of data and social effects over the past century.

Key Themes

Some key themes used in the lessons are:

  • How changes in population, origin of immigrants and migration within the country changed America

  • How immigrants became Americans

  • Data collection used to disprove flawed arguments such as “scientific racism”

  • Data used to present arguments and affect laws

  • Methods of data collection and how certain methods have been proved over time

  • Changes in technology over time

  • Using historical data to make inferences or comparisons to the future

  • Using population samples over time to create a portrait of who we are

Grade Levels

The lesson plans contained here are targeted primarily at high school grade levels.

Adaptation ideas are provided which may be used to apply these lessons and activities to middle school grades.

Extension ideas are provided for use in college-level courses. The FMC companion book is particularly appropriate for college courses. College course audiences for which the book may apply are:

  • Sociology: Introduction to Sociology, Social Change or Introduction to Population/Demography

  • History: American History

  • Political Science: American Politics/American Government

The First Measured Century is also a valuable reference book for courses in economics, business, journalism, and public policy.

Lesson Plans

Each of the lesson plans contain:

  • Description

  • Learning Objectives

  • Time Estimate

  • Materials and Resources List

  • Detailed Teaching Strategies including discussion suggestions for viewing related program topics

  • Assessment Recommendations

  • Adaptation and Extension Ideas

  • Activities

  • Resources and Links


PBS Program | Trends of the Century | Viewer's Voices | Interactivity | Teacher's Guide