United States History
COURSE DESCRIPTION: United States History is a one-year social studies program divided into a sequence of two semester-long courses: U.S. History I, II. Their combined topical content spans U.S. History from the pre-colonial era to the present day. Upon successful completion of these two courses, the student will be prepared to take the state-mandated United States History and Government Regents examination which culminates the program.
United States History is primarily a history program. But this history will be presented and explored not just in historical terms but also, necessarily, in terms of other social science disciplines, namely:
- geography, topography, ecology—how the geography of the U.S. has affected
the culture and history of the country as a whole, and how the geography of
different regions has affected those regions. The course will examine
American history through the five themes of geography: location, place,
human-environment interaction, movements, and regions.
- economics, economy—how Americans have been meeting their basic needs and
- political science, law, government—how they have governed and been
- culture—the aggregate of beliefs, ideas, values, and behaviors which endow a
person, and concomitantly a people, with a particular perspective on life and
living; the study of which would encompass the subject-matter of the three
disciplines above, and include: religion, philosophy, and anthropology
As the United States History program progresses, the students’ ability to identify and analyze the manifestation of certain historical/social science themes should be progressing as well. Drawing themes out of the topic content on a regular basis will give greater meaning, continuity, and cohesiveness to the flow of material being presented to or researched by the student. The themes should emerge naturally from each unit’s topical content. Some of the major historical/social science themes are:
Continuity and change; Culture; Environment; Individual identity; Role of groups and institutions; Power, authority, and governance; Production, distribution, and consumption; Technology and its impact on the human experience; Civic ideals and practices
COURSE RATIONALE: The objectives of the U.S. History program are two. The first objective is to develop and deepen the student’s conceptual understanding of how our society operates, and how he or she is a part of this society. The second objective is to cultivate certain skills and habits, so that students may achieve the first objective. This second objective, then, may be considered the root aim of the U.S. History program.
UNIT 1: Forming a Union: Colonial and Constitutional Foundations (1607 – ca. 1800) Overarching Question: What are American foundations for liberty and freedom?
Major Topics: Settlement of America (Virginia and New England, House of Burgesses, Mayflower Compact); colonial culture (salutary neglect, Salem witch trials, Bacon’s Rebellion, conflict with Native Americans; indentured servitude and slavery); colonial discontent and revolution (mercantilism, French-Indian War, British taxation, Common Sense, Boston Massacre, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War); formation of new nation (Articles of Confederation, Constitution [compromises, Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists, structure and principles of document]); new government and political parties (Washington precedents, Whiskey Rebellion, Federalists and Republicans)
Primary Sources: Winthrop “City upon a Hill”; Mayflower Compact; Bacon’s Declaration; Common Sense, Boston Massacre engraving; Declaration of Independence; Common Sense; excerpts from Articles of Confederation; Jefferson and Washington letters on Shays’ Rebellion; excerpts from Constitution; Federalist Papers; Washington farewell address; Jefferson and Hamilton documents on Bank of U.S. (strict vs. loose construction), French Revolution, etc.
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Founding Fathers Project; Thematic Essay: What actions by the British and American patriots led to the American Revolution?; Thematic Essay: How did founding fathers compromise in order to achieve ratification of the Constitution?; Thematic Essay: How does the Constitution remain a flexible document?
UNIT 2: Expansion, Nationalism, and Sectionalism (1800 – 1865)
Overarching Question: Was the Civil War inevitable?
Major Topics: Jefferson shrinking of Federal government; Louisiana Purchase; War of 1812; Nationalism (Marshall Court, Monroe Doctrine) vs. Sectionalism (Slavery vs. Industry; Missouri Compromise); Jacksonian Democracy; Indian Removal and Trail of Tears; Antebellum Reform Movements (Temperance, Abolition, Women’s Rights); Manifest Destiny; Road to Civil War (Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott, John Brown, Lincoln); Civil War (Emancipation Proclamation)
Primary Sources: Jefferson justifying Louisiana Purchase; excerpts from Marshall decisions; Monroe Doctrine; Southern justifications of slavery; Jackson Indian Removal Act and Native American pictures and narratives; Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments; Garrison The Liberator; Dred Scott decision; Lincoln, First and Second Inaugural addresses; Emancipation Proclamation
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Antebellum Newspaper project; Document Essay: What factors led to the outbreak of the Civil War?
UNIT 3: Post-Civil War America Industrialization, Urbanization and the Progressive Movement (1865 – ca. 1900)
Overarching Question: How was America’s response to the challenges of growth & progress aligned to its ideals of democracy?
Major Topics: Reconstruction (Presidential vs. Radical, 13th-15th Amendments, KKK Acts, sharecropping, Freedmen’s Bureaus and political participation of African Americans); Jim Crow South (KKK, literacy tests and poll taxes, Plessy v. Ferguson); Conquest of the Far West; Rise of major industry (robber barons, new business organization methods, working conditions, unionization); New immigration; Urbanization (tenements, living conditions); Progressive Era (muckrakers; movements: political participation, women’s suffrage, factory conditions, living conditions; results: 16th-19th Amendments, direct primary, secret ballot, Pure Food/Drug Act)
Primary Sources: Lincoln 2ndInaugural; Booker T. Washington on Reconstruction; Plessy v. Ferguson decision and dissent, “American Progress” painting; Carnegie Gospel of Wealth; Survival of the Fittest docs; Chinese Exclusion Act; political cartoons on immigration; Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives; Upton Sinclair The Jungle; other Progressive reformer docs
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Progressive reformer Project; Document Essay: how successful was Reconstruction in gaining rights for African Americans?; Document Essay: What methods did Progressive Reformers use to inform Americans about economic, political and societal problems?
UNIT 4: Prosperity and Depression: At Home and Abroad (ca. 1890 – 1941)
Overarching Question: How does a nation balance its own needs and interests with that of other nations?
Major Topics: Spanish-American War; World War I (Wilson, neutrality, Lusitania, 14 Points, Treaty of Versaille, Schenck v. U.S.); Roaring 20’s (Flappers, Harlem Renaissance, Scopes Trial, Rise of “new” KKK, prohibition); Great Depression and New Deal;
Primary Sources: McKinley justification of Spanish American War; documents for debate on American expansion; Wilson on entering war, 14 points; documents for debate on signing Treaty of Versailles; Harlem Renaissance documents, photos and music, letters from Great Depression, FDR first inauguration speech and fireside chats, Conservative critiques of New Deal
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Argumentative essay on American expansion during age of imperialism; Thematic essay on role of federal government during times of crisis; Document essay: U.S. intervention in international crises
UNIT 5: World War II and the Cold War (1935 – 1990)
Overarching Question: To what extent have America’s responses to foreign policy challenges been successful?
Major Topics: Inter-war neutrality (Neutrality Acts, cash and carry, lend-lease acts); Dropping of atomic bomb; Cold War foreign policy (containment, Marshall Plan, Berlin airlift, Korean War, Truman Doctrine, Eisenhower doctrine, Vietnam War); Cold War domestic policy (loyalty oaths, HUAC, McCarthyism)
Primary Sources: documents for debate on use of atomic bomb; Kennan Long Telegram excerpts; Cold War documents, photos, videos (“Duck and Cover”); documents for debating
Vietnam War; Eisenhower farewell address; Kennedy Berlin speech; Reagan “Tear Down this Wall” speech; McCarthy speech docs and video; Hollywood 10 testimony and articles
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Thematic essay: What actions did the government take to achieve our aims during the Cold War?; Document essay: How has the government restricted civil liberties in times of crisis?
UNIT 6: Social and Economic Change: Domestic Issues (1945 – present) Overarching Question: Is there one America or many?
Major Topics: 1950’s conformity; Beats and rock and roll; civil rights movement (civil disobedience movement – Brown v. Board of Education, MLK, bus boycott, Freedom Rides, Selma, Birmingham, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act; radicalization of movement – Malcolm X, Black Panthers; post-Civil Rights: economic inequality, affirmative action, Bakke case); 1970’s civil rights and beyond (women’s liberation, gay rights, persons with disabilities, American Indian Movement); Watergate and its effects; economic recession and Reaganomics (stagflation, trickle-down supply side economics); demographic changes (graying of America, internal migration, Latino immigration and population growth)
Primary Sources: Michael Harrington The Other America; Beat poetry and rock and roll music; MLK Letter from Birmingham Jail; video of Selma and Birmingham marches and March on Washington; docs and video of radical movements; documents for comparing 1970s movements; Woodward and Bernstein articles; Carter “malaise speech”; Reagan speeches and campaign videos (first inauguration); Anti-immigration articles and speeches and immigrant narratives.
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Document essay: how have different groups achieved civil rights in the 20th century? Thematic Essay: How have government officials tried to take extraordinary power, and in what ways were they limited in their efforts?
UNIT 7: The United States and Globalization (1990 – present)
Overarching Question: Is the United States moving toward or away from its foundational ideals?
Major Topics: Globalization (NAFTA, IMF and World Bank, American economic influence abroad); Post-Cold War foreign policy (first Gulf War, “New World Order”, US/NATO intervention in Somalia, Kosovo, Panama); 9/11 and its effects (wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, PATRIOT Act, anti-Muslim discrimination); America’s role in the world today (Neo-conservatism vs. Isolationism vs. Multi-nationalist responses)
Primary Sources: G.H.W. Bush on war in Iraq; Clinton on NAFTA; first person accounts and video of 9/11; G.W. Bush address to Congress after 9/11; PATRIOT Act; Pat Buchanan isolationism vs. neo-conservative arguments for intervention
Summative Assessment (one or more of the following): Unit Exam; Essay to answer Overarching Question; Document essay: How has the federal government limited civil liberties during times of crisis? Document essay: What were causes and effects of American intervention in world affairs?
ALIGNMENT WITH COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS:
Reading Standards for History/Social Studies 11–12
Writing Standards for History/Social Studies 11–12
INSTRUCTIONAL FORMAT: The operational concept here is student-centered, i.e., teaching with special regard for the student and his particular learning processes. An approach which stimulates the student to be intellectually active on a daily basis is the ideal. This section will provide you with an overview of instructional strategies to keep in mind as you plan your curriculum. Then, it will give you an introduction to the Workshop Model, which is the recommended methodology for implementing these strategies.
The four fundamental instructional strategies described below are recommended for actively engaging your students.
- Consistent bilateral social interaction, among all in the classroom in every combination possible. Through dialogue students can share their knowledge and experiences with each other for the intellectual and affective enhancement of all, and can develop their social skills.
- Lesson-matter must be made meaningful to the students by placing it in its appropriate thematic, disciplinary, and life contexts. Encourage them to see the big picture behind whatever it is they are learning, and analogize the material to the students’ own everyday experiences. Given a frame of reference or a specific context to which they can experientially or logically relate, the students will be more motivated to learn.
- Take a project-oriented approach. For each unit, assign projects individually or in groups, or have one ongoing project that lasts the whole semester. Projects keep students active, they give greater meaning to the content being presented, serve as an effective means of assessing a student’s intellectual and affective progress, and they offer ample opportunity for the student to exercise a whole repertoire of skills. The advantages of this approach are numerous. Sample projects: producing historical news-pages; the research paper; a video production; an oral presentation; etc.
- The heavy use of visual materials such as photos, drawings, slides, political cartoons, films, videos, filmstrips, and art prints will make up for the inadequacy of words for reviving the past and for describing foreign lands and peoples. Images, moreover, serve well as knowledge-structuring and knowledge-recall devices because of the deep imprint they can leave on the mind especially when accompanied by verbal or written descriptions. For example, once having seen video clips and slides of life in India, all of the data relating to India which they subsequently encounter will have an image-memory on which to accrue. Images can be seen as the fertile soil from which conceptual understandings may germinate, and grow. Choose and present your images thoughtfully.
The 5-30-10 Model is an effective means for implementing these four strategies. This Model breaks the lesson into three segments:
- (Teacher) 5 minutes: Homework Review and Launch of Lesson with (Rigor) high level open ended question (s) that can be student-generated
- (Students) 10 minutes: Close Reading of a variety of texts (written texts, primary and secondary sources, non-fiction, fiction, videos, experiments, math problems, images, pictures, dialogue, of varying complexity and at varying reading levels, in various languages (Access) using reading strategies that aid in analysis and comprehension of text such as annotation, questioning, vocabulary to develop the habits of highly effective readers with rubrics for guidance.
- (Students) 10 minutes: Text/Evidence Based Discussion using specific protocols in small groups or whole class. Debates, Socratic Seminar, Philosophical Chairs, Turn and Talk, Think Pair Share Write, etc. with rubrics for guidance (3b and 3c)
- (Students) 10 minutes: Writing from Sources using evidence from the reading/discussion with rubrics for guidance.
- (Students) 10 minutes: Self and Peer Assessment with feedback and next steps (3d) PS: The Reading, Discussion, Writing and Assessment can all take place in the same period or be spread across periods. Extended reading, in preparation for class can be done at home. Similarly, extended writing can be done at home as an offshoot of the lesson, or in preparation for the lesson.
ASSESSMENT: How much a student has progressed during each U.S. History course will be determined by regularly observing his performance in the following areas:
Formative Assessment: Classwork and Participation (30%)
Formative Assessment: Homework (30%)
Summative Assessment: Quizzes and Exams (20%)
Summative Assessment: Essays and Projects (20%)
- Main textbooks:
o Cayton, A., Perry, E. I., Reed, L., & Winkler, A. M. (2003). America: Pathways to the Present. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall.