in American History – Grades 4-12
– The Library of Congress offers a daily glimpse of what happened on any given
date in American history. For those who plan ahead, the listings for any day
of the year are available. Text, images, and other add-ons vary by day.
Dreams…through the decades – Grades 5-12
– A very flexible, intriguing unit that allows students to define and trace
the evolution of the "American Dream." In groups of four, students
each take a different role (photographer, politician, poet, etc.) and research
the American Dream from that angle (finding pictures, political events, the
"soul" of the Dream, etc.). The unit has a teacher’s page,
a student’s page, and a resource page to outline the lesson. On the teacher’s
page, you will find many suggestions for customizing the lesson, such as restricting
the scope to one particular decade or a certain theme.
at a Crossroads: The Hetch Hetchy Controversy – Grades
9-12 – This unit is based on the debate over damming the Hetch
Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, which helped mark the evolution of
the conservation movement. The unit has two parts: the first details conservation
through the rationales of various historical figures, and the second outlines
the case study of Hetch Hetchy. The format of the second part includes a mock
hearing where students present their researched ideas. In the course of the
unit, students will also compare historical ideas of conservation with current
– a complete K-16 American History Curriculum, with materials and lesson plans
for each grade level. Available through the ERIC clearinghouse.
in America – Grades 9-12 – This is an
extensive let of lesson modules based on Alexis DeToqueville’s writings about
democracy in America. Developed by C-Span, the lessons provide questions and
discussion which make DeToqueville’s observations relevant for contemporary
American History studies. A companion DeToqueville web site can be found in
the TeachersFirst American Themes
Eye Behind the Camera: the Voice Behind the Story by Synia Carroll-McQuillan,
Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute – Social Studies – Grades
6-8 – The colonial period of U.S. History is explored in this five-week
unit that examines various cultural and ethnic groups in America. Storytelling
and film are used to contrast prevailing myths related to the ante-bellum
period with factual historical information.
Graveyard – Grades 4-6
– TeachersFirst offers a Halloween hallway display designed as a
wrap-up to the study of early explorers in America. This lesson
combines historical facts and creative writing skills.
Great Depression and the 1990s – Grades 11-12
– In this three-part unit, students will compare ideas on welfare in the 1930s
and today. The first part has students research and discuss the present-day
perspective on welfare. Next, they will form groups and study either a group
of people affected by the Great Depression or the government programs that
were designed to help those people. Finally, students research one modern
government program with roots in the age of the Great Depression. A "Congressional
forum" ends the unit, where students debate on which programs should
History Project – Lessons – Grades 6-12 – This
is an interesting collection of U.S. History lessons created by a faculty
member at the University of California at Davis. The lessons all involve
students in reading and analyzing primary sources. Each lesson is available
in elementary, middle school, and high school versions, and the original
university teaching materials are also available on-line. This collection
could be most useful in getting students to draw their own conclusions based
on primary sources.
Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness by G. Casey Cassidy, Yale-New
Haven Teachers Institute – U.S. History(Revolution)/English (interdisciplinary)
– Grade 8 – This unit was written for an
accelerated eighth grade class using historical fiction as a focus, but reading
levels of texts are adaptable to grades 7- 11.
Destiny – Classroom Simulation – Grades
6-12 – This lesson from Indiana University uses a simple classroom
strategy to help students undersand Native American reactions to the westward
expansion of the United States. Simple, but very effective.
America on Film: Fact Versus Fiction by Ida Hickerson, Yale-New Haven
Teachers Institute – Multicultural History, Social Studies – Grades
6-8 – Use American films and fictional/non-fictional literature
to increase student awareness of the values and struggles experienced by minorities
and ethnic groups throughout the United States. Students will be exposed to
a variety of ethnic groups and historical events as they investigate fact
and fiction in American film. This unit builds greater awareness and understanding
of diverse cultural groups.
History is America’s History – Grades 4-12
– Developed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities,
this site offers students an introduction to family history and its place
in American history. There are story collections, suggestions on how to
collect and tell family histories, and opportunities to submit stories.
The teacher section outlines approaches to family history for various grade
levels. This site could easily be part of a history, writing, or social
New Deal: North Carolina’s Reconstruction? – Grades
7-8 – To answer the title question of this unit, students will
research and write a WPA report on an imaginary North Carolina resident who
lived during the Reconstruction and Depression eras. Besides using the Internet
for research, students are encouraged to interview people who were around
during the Depression to get a feel for that time. For the report, students
must choose a specific occupation for their "resident," and it must
be historically accurate.
History lesson plans from the Social Studies
School Service (commercial site) – These lesson plans are a sample of
those available from the book Teaching Social Studies with the Internet,
available for sale from this web site. Each lesson plan is fully useful on
its own, no purchase required, and includes links to relevant Internet materials.
Activities are designed for groups and utilize Internet research as an essential
component for collecting information to be used in class discussions/presentations.
Firsthand – Grades 4-8 – Subject: American
History/Technology – This unit is designed to help elementary students learn
to use the Internet for research, as well as broaden their understanding of
history. In the first lesson, students gather and discuss personal artifacts
to gain an understanding of what makes a "collection." During the
second lesson, students use their local archives to discover how collections
are organized, then try organizing some documents themselves. In the final
lesson, students transition to a national topic and research the archives
online. The gradual steps of the lesson help make it easier to search through
the immense amount of material available online.
Simulation – Ellis Island – Grades 6-12
– On its surface, this site appears to be simply a "virtual tour"
of Ellis Island. However, the Teacher’s section contains a good deal of information
on how to create an on-site, interdisciplinary immigration experience for
students. There are tips on content, involving parents, and other aspects
of the project. Well worth a look if you’re studying this time period.
Hughes: Artist and Historian by Medria Blue, Yale-New Haven Teachers
Institute – U.S. History: Grades 6-8 –
This lesson explores Langston Hughes’ poetry, setting it as a "vehicle
by which students are exposed to the African-American experience in the United
States of the 1920s through the 1960s."
About Immigration Through Oral History – Grades
6-8 – Subject: Social Studies, History, English – Designed as a
year-long project, this unit can be adapted for a short-term lesson. The goal
is to give students a realistic experience of oral history and its place in
our history, focusing on American immigrants. Students will use visual and
information literacy exercises to gain an understanding of how to identify
and interpret primary historical sources. There are a total of six activities;
each one can serve as a "stand-alone" unit. The activities cover
topics such as "Oral history methodology" and "Making meaning
out of an archive," and students get to work alone and in groups.
Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address – Grades 6-12
– This lesson plan from the American Presidents Project offers a collection
of ways in which to engage students with Lincoln’s most famous speech. Lots
of good suggestions and strategies. We couldn’t make the various external
links work properly, but they’re not essential to the lesson.
Island – Grades 9-12 – This lesson from
the Ask Asian web site will teach about Chinese immigration to America in
the 19th and 20th centuries.
Lincoln: The Early Life of Our Sixteenth President – Grades
K-3 – Tammy Payton – Loogootee Elementary West, Loogootee, IN –
This award-winning, web-based unit includes traditional classroom activities
as well as web activities. Students may participate in a treasure hunt for
information, take a quiz on what they have learned of Lincoln’s early life,
or watch a web animation of Westward Expansion. Ms. Payton also provides web
links for further information and a long list of choices for culminating activities.
of the U.S. Civil Warby Thomas E. Holmes, Yale-New Haven Teachers
Institute – Language Arts/U.S. History (interdisciplinary): Grades
4-5 – This unit investigates the Civil War through children’s
literature, using multiple approaches to learning including reading, writing,
dramatization, and music.
on the New Deal – Grades 7-12
– This is a collection of lessons and activities contained in the New Deal
Network web site. They can also be used in conjunction with classroom study
or other web resources on the period.
America: Paths To The Present by Ida Hickerson – Val-Jean Belton,
Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute – Social Studies – Grade
7 – Improve students’ writing abilities and creative/critical
thinking skills through a comparative study of African America, Latino, and
Native American history. Using selections from literature and the arts, students
discover the impact these cultures have had on American history. Activities
include journal writing, analysis of literary elements and structure, Internet
research, and the development of student portfolios.
Language and Separationby Sandra Coleman, Yale-New Haven Teachers
Institute – Social Studies: Grades 5-6
– This unit combines expository writing, research, and other skills to investigate
the relationship of language to segregation and integration within the American
and the Supreme Court – Grades 9-12
– Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to pack the Supreme Court was a landmark test
of the Constitution’s separation of powers. This lesson plan from the Library
of Congress explores the implications of Roosevelt’s plan and asks students
to argue both sides of the question.
of War with Asia on Asian Americans – Grades 9-12
– This lesson from the Ask Asia series uses Political cartoons from the
1940s and 1990s as a springboard for learning about perceptions of Asians
within the U.S.
of Entry – Grades 6-12 – This lesson from the
Library of Congress asks students to use archival images to gather impressions
about American immgrants and immigration. It’s a good illustration of the
instructional possibilities in using archival images and information.
Controversies: Then and Now – Grades 8-12
– An interesting unit that looks at past and present issues regarding
Native American reservations. There are two sections in the unit: The "Indian
Agent Appointment Interview" and the "Indian Reservation Gaming
Issue." In the first lesson, students role-play applying for a job as
the IndianAgent for the Comanche Reservation in Oklahoma. They must prepare
for their "interview" using the online resources. In the second
lesson, students role-play as interns to a Congresswoman, with a task of researching
the current issue of casinos on reservations.
Be The Historian – Grades 4-8 –
"You Be the Historian" can be an excellent springboard for class
discussion about primary and secondary sources and the historical process.
The "what about you?" sections of the activity encourage students
to think about the study of history at a personal level. What can future historians
learn about your students, your school, your class, etc. What evidence are
you leaving behind? The activity can also be used as an introduction (or supplemental
material) to life in the late 1700s. This site provides questions for your
students to think about, especially if they are interested in careers with
History backgrounds! Special Features include a teacher’s guide to using this
web site and its contents in the classroom with or without the Internet. From
the National Museum of American History.
do YOU see? – Grades 5-12 – Students
learn to analyze photographs for key information in the course of this unit.
From selected Civil War photographs, students must answer questions about
what they see, and come up with some of their own. More detailed captions
are then provided, and students are expected to re-evaluate their original
conclusions. Once they have learned to analyze the given pictures, they must
find their own, draw conclusions, and present their findings to the class.
After studying the pictures and captions in this manner, students will recognize
links between the Civil War and American industrialization.
War II As Seen Through Children’s Literatureby Laura Pringleton,
Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute – Integrated Unit: Language Arts, Mathematics,
Social Studies and Science: Grades 5+
– This long-term unit uses all four academic disciplines to learn about World
War II in a wonderfully integrated study. Materials are mostly middle school
level but easily adaptable upwards.
and the Constitution – Grades 9-12
– The Congressional investigations of the Watergate affair and Richard Nixon’s
subsequent resignation tested the Constitutional relationships among all three
branches of the federal government. This lesson from the Library of Congress
asks students to explore this relationship and explain how and why the system
Zimmerman Telegram – Grades 9-12 – The
Library of Congress presents this lesson plan based on the decoding of the
Zimmerman telegram, one of the key events in the American entry into World
War I. Includes lesson outline, sources for activities, and related information.
Link to TeachersFirst W.W.I resources.