8th Grade U. S. History Syllabus

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8th Grade U.S. History Syllabus

Eighth grade U.S. history is a study of the United States through 1877. The course focuses on colonization, the American Revolution, the formation and structure of U.S. government, the New Republic, Manifest Destiny and an expanding nation, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.



The lessons in this unit are organized to help students understand the effects of geography on the development of colonial America. The main skill focus is making generalizations. Students analyze the reasons for exploration and the importance of political, economic, and social factors upon the formation of the thirteen colonies. To begin the unit, students participate in an exciting computer simulation comparing early American colonization to space colonization. They conclude the unit with their first essay of the year, reflecting on the themes of this unit – geography and economy of the 13 original colonies.

American Revolution

This unit focuses on the political, economic, and social factors that led to the American Revolution and how the self-determination of the colonists led to victory. The culminating assessment is a student-created electronic newspaper focusing on the major points of the American Revolution. The newspaper is constructed by students working in groups or individually.

Forging a New Government


The principles of the U.S. Constitution and the individual rights, freedoms, and responsibilities created by the Founding Fathers are the centerpiece of Forging a New Government. The culminating assessment is a free-response essay addressing the extent to which the U.S. Constitution limits the power of government. Students will follow district guidelines for writing a box outline, rough draft, ratiocination, and final draft.

New Republic

This unit is designed to help students understand the challenges faced by the new republic during the presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. The culminating assessment is a document-based essay on the leadership role of the earliest presidents. This is an opportunity for the students to participate in the process of writing a document-based essay as a practice before the document-based essay is administered for the district semester exam.

An Expanding Nation


In this unit the content focus is threefold: analyzing westward expansion and its effect on the political, economic, and social development of the nation; analyzing how political, economic and social factors led to the growth of sectionalism and the Civil War; and identifying the impact of science and technology on the development of the U.S. Students create a virtual museum exhibit of the Expanding Nation period for the culminating assessment.

Civil War and Reconstruction

The causes of the Civil War, the major events of the war, and the significance of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments are the foundation for the Civil War and Reconstruction unit. Students develop an understanding of the political dilemmas and the compromises of the times. By probing deeply into the sectional differences, students are challenged with analytical thought through primary source document analysis. Later, the sources are used as a part of the document-based essay on the final exam. In the culminating assessment students combine the skills of communication, information literacy, and inter/intrapersonal by working in small groups to make a presentation about a selected Civil War topic.

Updated 11/18/09

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