Malden High School Curriculum Map: United States History I

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Malden High School

Curriculum Map: United States History I

Grades 9-12


The main themes of this course have been developed with students in mind: as the youngest group of people in the high school, students in grade nine need a foundation for understanding the world around them. To that end, this course allows students to grapple with finding their voices in a fast-paced 21st century global society; with understanding their roles as citizens of both this country and of the world; and with developing thoughtful critical thinking skills necessary both for problem solving and for building meaningful oral and written communication.

This curriculum map is the product of a great amount of work over several years, with authors and editors from throughout the Malden High School History Department. This curriculum could not have been possible without the outstanding work of each teacher that contributed thoughtful, important, and timely critical feedback, which is necessary to shaping our curriculum to be relevant and accessible to all students. Each unit is presented in an adapted version of the Understanding by Design 2.0 format. Some units were originally designed for the Model Curriculum Unit project of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and have been modified for the Malden population.

Table of Contents

Transfer Goals

Overarching Understandings

Overarching Essential Questions

  1. Colonial America

  2. The Revolutionary Era

  3. Creating a New Government

  4. The Constitution

  5. Forging the Republic

  6. From Nationalism to Sectionalism

  7. Reforming America

  8. Westward Expansion

  9. The Nation Splits Apart

  10. The Civil War

  11. Reconstruction

  • Understand how recurring patterns in history can inform judgments about current events and other issues.

  • Analyze and resolve conflicts in order to work and live cooperatively with others.

  • Understand how physical and human geography can inform responsible interactions with environment.

  • Apply knowledge of political and social systems to participate actively as an informed citizen of a democracy.

  • Critically appraise historical and contemporary claims/decisions.

  • Apply concepts and systems of economics to participate productively in a global economy.

  • Economics influence political and social change.

  • Geography, demographics, and local history influence regional cultures.

  • Specific individuals can have a profound impact on history

  • Revolutions are caused by social, economic, and political inequalities and have outcomes that affect local and global communities

  • There is an ongoing debate over the limits of government power.

  • People move for a variety of reasons – for new economic opportunities, greater freedoms, or to escape hardships.

  • Some conflicts leave little room for compromise

  • War impacts the culture, politics, and economy of a society

  • How do wealth and power influence societal and political changes?

  • Why is there variation among people from different places?

  • What compels people to pursue change?

  • What is a revolution?

  • What is the purpose of government?

  • Why do people move?

  • How do opinions form?

  • What role does war play in a society’s history?

  • How do we determine the real winners and losers of conflicts?

Colonial America

U.S. History I – 9-12

The impact of European colonization on the indigenous population of North America is essential to the study of History. The social, economic, political, and cultural significance of global imperialism has an especially important role in American History. By the 18th Century, European powers had come to rely heavily on their colonies across the Atlantic. Central and South American gold and silver filled the coffers of the Spanish throne. French territory in Canada and along the Mississippi River promised years of plentiful resources and a shipping center vital to colonial economic activity. But the military strength, relative political stability, and the benefits of advancing industry signaled that Great Britain had perhaps the most potential for successful long-term colonial investments.
This is the first unit of the United States History I curriculum. Students will build on their foundational knowledge of American History by exploring the earliest inhabitants of the North American continent and European contact, then examining the goals and outcomes of European colonization. Students will focus on the British North American settlements with an emphasis on the economic relationship between Britain and its overseas colonies. Students will gradually be introduced to various themes of the course, including the rights and responsibilities of citizens, the relationship between a government and its people, and the importance of individual voices in history.

Stage 1 Desired Results


USI.1 Explain the political and economic factors that contributed to the American Revolution. (H, C)

  • the impact on the colonies of the French and Indian War, including how the war led to an overhaul of British imperial policy from 1763 to 1775

  • how freedom from European feudalism and aristocracy and the widespread ownership of property fostered individualism and contributed to the Revolution

6-8. RH.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
W9.1 (grade 9) – Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


Students will be able to independently use their learning to…

  • Understand how physical and human geography can inform responsible interactions with environment.

  • Apply concepts and systems of economics to participate productively in a global economy.



U1 – Economics influence political and social change.

U2 – Geography, demographics, and local history influence regional cultures.
U3 – Desire to control natural resources results in international conflict.


Q1 – How do wealth and power influence societal and political changes?

Q2 – What colonial region was best?
Q3 – Why did people risk so much when moving to a new part of the world?
Q4 – Why would a country want to send people to new and different places?


Students will know…

Content Vocabulary (Tier Three Words):

Mercantilism, balance of trade, Navigation Acts, salutary neglect, colony, Triangle Trade, Middle Passage, cash crop, Albany Plan of Union, Proclamation of 1763, colony, subsistence farming, plantation, Pontiac’s Rebellion
Academic Vocabulary (Tier Two Words):

Import, export, commodities, deficit, debt, smuggling, domestic, identify, determine, compare, contrast, cause, effect, union, analyze, persuasive, inference
Colonial culture & economics

  • Variations between New England, the Middle Colonies, and the South (U2)

  • Drive for cheaper labor and the increase in the slave trade (U1)

  • Middle Passage and the dehumanization of Africans (U1)

The French and Indian War 1754-1763

  • Key players, including the French, British, Colonists, and First Nations (U3)

  • Each group's alliances, motivations (Local, regional, national, global), and feelings about the other groups (U3)

Outcome of the War

  • Rising tensions between the British and the Colonists (Q1)

  • Unification of the Colonists, under Benjamin Franklin’s Albany Plan of Union (Q1)

Students will be skilled at…

Analyzing primary and secondary documents for determining life in the colonies (Q2)

Identifying main idea and details in readings about mercantilism. (U1)
Developing a sense of empathy by examining slavery in the colonies (Q4)
Using a timeline to place events of the French and Indian War in historical context (U3)
Analyze and interpret maps to infer the importance of economics and geography. (U2)
Determining cause and effect of the French and Indian War (Q3)
Using the image “Join or Die” to develop an understanding of symbolism in the past (U2)
Developing an evidence-based argument on Pontiac’s Rebellion (U3)
Expository writing about colonial life in the form of a letter to a relative. (U2)

Stage 2 – Evidence

Evaluative Criteria

Assessment Evidence

Use of Content Specific Knowledge
Quality of Product and Mechanics



Your goal is to assume the point of view of a historical figure between the years 1750 and 1763 and write a letter.


You will take on the role of one of the following people:

  • A British or French soldier in the French and Indian War

  • A Northern rum importer

  • A Southern plantation owner

  • An Iroquois Native American

  • A slave on a Southern plantation


Your audience is either a family member or a friend.

The world around you is rapidly changing. You need to update your family or friend on how those changes have affected you and how you have responded to those changes.

Each character should include 3-5 historically accurate key events/terms/people that apply to that particular role.



How this applies to my role

Standards and Criteria for Success

See rubric


  • Two-Column Notes on Northern and Southern Colonial Economies and Cultures

  • Where should we live? Students write a convincing one-paragraph argument detailing the colony they think is best

  • Good Idea/Bad Idea: One paragraph explaining why Pontiac’s Rebellion was either a good idea or a bad idea

  • How is it related? Students write an expository paragraph that connects colonial economies, colonial cultures, and the French and Indian War

  • Key term quiz

  • Colonial America test

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Summary of Key Learning Events and Instruction

Lessons to include:

Lesson 1: Examining Northern and Southern Economies and Cultures (U2, Q2, Q3, Q4)

Lesson 2: Identifying the causes and effects of the French and Indian War (U1, U3, Q1, Q3, Q4)

Lesson 3: CEPA (U1, U2, U3, Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4)
Lesson 1: Examining Northern and Southern Economies and Cultures

  • Define the word “colony” using a Vocabulary building word map

  • Examine the relationship between England her colonies, including the concepts of mercantilism and salutary neglect

  • Compare and contrast key features of the economy in the Northern and Southern colonies (Using the textbook or the background readings in the Choices unit “A More Perfect Union”)

  • Explain the role of slavery in the colonies using primary and secondary sources (for example, Olaudah Equiano)

  • Make an informed decision and create an argument on which colony is best

Lesson 2: Identifying the causes and effects of the French and Indian War

  • Determine the causes of the war using primary and secondary sources

  • Create a timeline of the major events of the French and Indian War in order to explain Britain’s victory over France

  • Examine how colonial cultures influenced reactions to and conflicts following the French and Indian War (for example, Ben Franklin’s Albany Plan of Union)

  • Interpret maps to identify changes in land ownership

  • Critically analyze Native American responses to the War, including Pontiac’s Rebellion, as well as the effects of the war on colonial racial attitudes

  • Explain the purpose of and reactions to the Proclamation of 1763

  • Predict British reactions to debt following the war

Lesson 3: CEPA

  • Examine anchor papers and recognize elements of high quality letters

  • Develop character by identifying key events, terms, and people to include in letter

  • Draft, revise, edit and complete final letter

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