Conflict Over Slavery
Students first reflect on the importance of considering historical context by imagining how a college football coach would react to a female player in 1870 vs. 2070. Then they examine how the United States dealt with tensions over slavery through legislative compromises. Next students explain the role of slavery in sectionalism and states’ rights conflicts. Finally they examine highway speed limits as an example of states’ rights, and they develop an opinion if the federal government has the right to set a nationwide speed limit.
The Civil War
Students read the first verse of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and summarize the main idea of the song. Then they explore an interactivity to learn about the key events and people of the Civil War. Next they analyze the Emancipation Proclamation. Finally, they write a short report on a topic related to Abraham Lincoln’s life and accomplishments.
Students define the word reconstruction and predict what needed to be reconstructing in post-Civil War United States. Then they learn about the challenges of reconstruction and they categorize political, economic, and social issues. Next they analyze the three Reconstruction Amendments. Finally they create a timeline of key events in the history of voting rights for African Americans.
The Transcontinental Railroad
Students create a visual about a mode of transportation and how it has contributed to human movement. Then they watch a brief video to learn about the construction of the transcontinental railroad and its contributions to the economic development of the United States. Next they focus on the role of Chinese immigrants in the construction work and analyze why immigrants often take low-paying jobs. Finally, they examine both primary and secondary sources about early train robberies.
The Plains Indians
Students analyze a Navajo poem. Then they watch a video and learn more about the way of life of the Plains Indians. Next they watch an animated map showing Native American lands from 1784 to present day, and they respond to the map from two points of view—as a settler and as a Plains Indian. Finally they look at two photos—one of Apache children arriving at the Carlisle School and one of children at the end of their training at the school—and they write a diary entry for one of the children.
Mass Immigration: The Huddled Masses
Students identify many holidays that have been brought to the United States by different immigrant groups. Then they learn about some of the major immigrant groups of the nineteenth century—why they came and how they lived. Next they explore an interactivity about Ellis Island and analyze the Statue of Liberty as a symbol for immigration. Finally they research an ethnic neighborhood and write a short report.
Expansion’s Impact on the Environment
Students analyze a political cartoon about the transcontinental railroad. Then they learn about ways that westward expansion modified the environment, focusing on the negative impact. Next they examine how settlers adapted their homes to the new environments. Finally, students reflect on their own interactions with the environment.
Age of Invention
Students reflect on an invention that has made a major impact on their lives. Then they work in small groups to prepare an oral presentation on an assigned nineteenth century inventor. After the presentations, they analyze how scientific inventions help individuals and society.
Nineteenth Century Literature
Students are introduced to tall tales via the Paul Bunyan story. Then they read four brief excerpts from nineteenth century literature and comment on how each excerpt reflects the period. Finally they write an opening for a short story or poem that expresses life in the United States during the latter half of the nineteenth century.