Study Group: Summary – History Repeats Itself in the Classroom, Too! Prior Knowledge and Implementing the Common Core State Standards

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Study Group: Summary – History Repeats Itself in the Classroom, Too! Prior Knowledge and Implementing the Common Core State Standards

January 7, 2015: Chap 1--The Foundations of Democracy

  • Why study the foundations of democracy?

    • “The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

  • Civic education is a priority for policy makers

  • Common theme: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills can be supported and enriched by placing the same kind of importance on history/social studies.

  • Schools are offering civic education as an elective, not a critical component of preparing students to compete in a knowledge-based, global economy.

  • Students learn about democracy at an early age, but still produce low voter turnout for young people.

  • Teachers should utilize age appropriate enrichment activities to increase levels of student engagement.

Examples: (how it can be used in grades 7,8,11)

Social Studies 7

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a democratic government

  • How could democracy coexist with slavery?

  • What were the pros and con of being an American colonist and therefore a subject of the British Empire?

  • How did the Thirteen Colonies of Britain become the self-governing United States of America?

  • Sample Readings

  • Magna Carta

  • Plato’s Republic

  • Aristotle’s Politics

  • Machiavelli’s The Prince

  • English Bill of Rights

  • Declaration of Independence

  • US Constitution

  • Write a narrative paragraph about democratic practices among ancient people, for example, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, British

  • Write a persuasive paragraph about whether or not Florence was a democratic city during the Renaissance.

  • Write an expository essay about the democratic concepts that are attributable to Greece versus those that are attributable to Rome.

  • Create a poster showing the social hierarchy in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

  • Develop a class constitution. Share ideas aloud and sign and post the document when ratified.

  • Draw, label, and date a timeline of key democratic documents.

Social Studies 8

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • How does democracy differ from other forms of government?

  • What examples of democracy and self-sufficiency existed in the Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolution?

  • How did the Thirteen Colonies of Britain become the self-governing United States?

  • How did the US Constitution address the economic concerns of the framers of the Constitution?

  • Sample Readings

  • The Mayflower Compact

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

  • US Constitution

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Write a five-paragraph narrative essay detailing the political, economic, and social causes of the American Revolution.

  • Write a four-paragraph expository essay comparing and contrasting the arguments of the Loyalists and the Patriots in 1776.

  • Write a short paragraph discussing the causes and effect of the Great Compromise.

  • Sample Projects

  • Make a table describing examples of democracy in each of the Thirteen Colonies.

  • Students visually represent the events of the Second Continental Congress with a comic strip.

  • Divide students into small groups and give each a section of Common Sense to summarize with a PowerPoint presentation.

US History 11

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • How did the US Constitution address the economic concerns of the framers of the Constitution?

  • Why is a lack of knowledge about the principles of democracy among most Americans a serious problem?

  • What aspects of the Declaration of Independence are taken directly from John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government

  • Sample Readings

  • Aristotle’s Politics

  • John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract

  • Excerpts from the Federalist Papers

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Write an essay analyzing Aristotle’s six forms of government.

  • Compare and contrast Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia Convention in 1775 with George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.

  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of mercantilism and capitalism

  • Write an essay summarizing and analyzing the economic arguments of both sides of Shays’ Rebellion in 1787 and the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794

  • Sample Projects

  • Debate ratification of the Constitution

  • Research and prepare a Patriots vs. Loyalist debate

  • Create a chart of the economic characteristics of the thirteen colonies

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8: For this lesson, students visually represented the events of the Second Continental Congress with a comic strip. The class gained a considerable amount of perspective on the mindset of the founding fathers. This assignment required that students do prior research into the mindset and objectives of delegates to the Second Continental Congress. This activity allowed students to address a well known historical event from an unconventional viewpoint. By creating a cartoon, it will assist students as they address the symbolism in political cartoons. Since several students were not especially strong artists, they were allowed to utilize various images and graphics obtained from the internet and magazines.

US History 11: Students were given the task of creating a fictional dialogue between a Patriot and Loyalist in 18th century New York City. Students were required to address a variety of political, social, and economic topics in this discussion. In order to formulate their argument, students had access to online primary sources, in addition to those I had in the classroom. Overall many students were able to make their own connections from the primary sources they used and become historians, which was the ultimate goal.

January 14, 2015: Chap 2--The Age of Exploration and Discovery

  • The motivation for European exploration goes beyond the, Three G’s. (Gold, God, Glory)

  • Reinforce that exploration was an extension of the Renaissance and Reformation.

  • Cultural and religious change was equal to desire for economic success.

  • Colonization was a continuation of the Crusades.

  • Balance the Eurocentric view of exploration with emphasis on the cultural heritage of the “New World.”

Examples: (how it can be used in grades 7,8,11)

Social Studies 7

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Why would some men risk their lives in voyages during the Age of Exploration while others would not?

  • What motivates people to migrate from one location to another?

  • Explain the influences of the Roman legal system on Europe during this era.

  • Sample Readings

  • Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, chapter 1: “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress

  • Charles Mann’s 1493 (Excerpts)

  • Extracts from the journal of Christopher Columbus, from the Medieval Sourcebook.

  • Ferdinand Magellan’s Voyage around the World, 1519-1522

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Compare and contrast Jamestown and Plymouth. Consider motivations for settlement, population growth, interaction with the Native Americans, political, economic, religious institutions, and important leaders.

  • Look at a map of the Columbian Exchange. See which resources were native to Europe, Africa or Asia. Write an expository essay about resources that were not native to particular countries have come to define them.

  • Compare and contrast of the nation-state system with the structure of the United Nations.

  • Sample Projects

  • Assume the role of a prominent explorer and explain his historical significance in a one-minute speech. Include country of origin, sponsor for voyages, routes, discovery, reputation, and outcome.

  • Look at a map of the Columbian Exchange, and create one menu for a restaurant that uses ingredients that are native to Europe, Africa, or Asia and then another menu for a restaurant that uses ingredients that are native to the Americas.

  • Create a brochure to advertise settlement in one of the Thirteen Colonies.

Social Studies 8

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Should the citizens of the United States celebrate Columbus Day?

  • Why did some European monarchs sponsor explorers while others did not?

  • Why were the British colonies in North America more successful than the French and Spanish?

  • Sample Readings

  • American Beginnings: 1492-1690, From the National Humanities Center.

  • Columbus’ Confusion About the New World, by Edmund S. Morgan

  • Did Pocahontas Save John Smith? By Stan Birchfield

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • What were the positive and negative effects of the Columbian Exchange?

  • Compare and contrast the efforts of two of the following countries during the Age of Exploration: Portugal, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands.

  • European monarchs were motivated by God, gold, and glory in sponsoring explorers voyages. To what extent did the monarchs achieve their goals?

  • Sample Projects

  • Fold a paper into three parts. Draw and describe for one of the Thirteen Colonies and the Founder and followers, the indentured servants and/or slaves and their work, and the Native Americans and their interaction with the English settlers.

  • Have students research a Native American tribe; then, on a file card, write a one-paragraph history of the people, draw a picture or paste a symbol, and present to the class before push pinning the reference information to a map of the United States in the region that tribe once lived.

  • Divide the class into groups. Assign group one topic (The Code of Justinian, Federalist 78, Marbury v. Madison) Each group will create a movie poster that uses both illustration and words to describe the topic and explain the topic’s significance and major Actors.

US History 11

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Why have governments encouraged their own people to migrate?

  • What societal conditions can produce a challenge to the dominant economic system?

  • Describe some of the key changes in political theory that developed during this era?

  • Sample Readings

  • The Treaty of Westphalia, 1648 at

  • Marbury v. Madison

  • Machiavelli, The Prince

  • Hobbes, The Leviathan

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Describe the relationship between precedent, case law, and judicial review.

  • Briefly explain the meaning of the terms: idealism, realism, and pragmatism. Describe how modern political theory lost some of its idealism.

  • Describe the economic characteristics and weaknesses of feudalism and mercantilism and explain how those weaknesses contributed to each system’s decline as the dominate system of political economy.

  • Sample Projects

  • Have students create a Powerpoint presentation to summarize the key events of the landmark Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison.

  • A small group project in which the group prepares and presents a “living history” interview with Machiavelli and Hobbes about their political theories.

  • Students create a newspaper advertisement seeking an explorer during the Age of Discovery. Have students describe the prerequisites, educational experience, salary, and occupational hazards of being a 16th century explorer.

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8: After studying the basics of how European colonialism in North America, students were divided into five groups and assigned a European nation to represent (England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands). Each group was given the task of explaining why their nation had the strongest claim to settle and colonize the Americas. Students then participated in a debate in which they needed evidence to prove their side. This activity took some students out of their comfort zone and was a great way to encourage students who would rather be “passive” in their learning to be an active participant in the creation of knowledge.
Next time, I will offer students a choice between participating in a debate or in writing a persuasive essay. Both tasks require analytical thinking and will allow students to achieve the same goal.
US History 11: A difficult skill for many students who study history is understanding, analyzing and interpreting political cartoons. We created a couple lessons devoted specifically toward using political cartoons as a means of understanding the Judicial Branch and specifically the landmark case of Marbury v Madison. Then we had students create their own political cartoons at the end of the Jeffersonian democracy unit. As expected, this was not an easy task, and students struggled, especially lower level students, but after seeing the end results it was apparent that the time devoted to this task paid off. As shown through their work, students became historians by compiling primary source information to tell a story, analyzing some part of the judicial branch in their political cartoon.

January 21, 2015: Chap 3: The Enlightenment

  • The Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, covers the period from approximately the mid-seventeenth century through the eighteenth century.

  • This era produced profound changes in intellectual thought that set in motion numerous revolutions with several significant consequences.

  • Changes in the relationship between government and markets also contributed to the foundations for modern and economic theory.

  • Minimizing the coverage and significant contributions of this period in history will create a wide gap in students’ historical understanding with long-lasting effect.

Examples: (how it can be used in grades 7,8,11)

Social Studies 7

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Why did the Enlightenment philosophers emerge when and where they did?

  • What ideas did European Enlightenment philosophers promote in the Thirteen Colonies and the early American republic?

  • How do political ideologies develop?

  • Sample Readings

  • Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin

  • Letters from An American Farmer, by Hector St. John De Crevecouer

  • Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Write and expository comparing and contrasting Florence during the Renaissance and Paris during the Enlightenment

  • Write a paragraph about Benjamin Franklin’s decision to give up his allegiance to Britain and instead fight for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies

  • Write a narrative essay from the British perspective about Thomas Paine, an Enlightenment philosopher and American revolutionary, who fell from grace.

  • Sample Projects

  • Host a salon for the students, in which they pretend they are French men and women in the late eighteenth century discussing the ideas of philosophers. Develop a list of about seven questions for written answers.

  • Create a seating chart for the philosophers as if they were going to a wedding and needed to sit with like-minded people. Start with a list of about 20 philosophers and draw three to six round or rectangular tables with three to five people at each. Then have students create a dialogue between the people at the tables.

  • Paraphrase a quote from Poor Richard’s Almanack, and share both the Ben Franklin and student version with the class.

Social Studies 8

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Why were the Thirteen Colonies so divided at the beginning of the American Revolution: 40% Patriots, 20% Loyalists, and 40% neutral?

  • Why did many governments fail to recognize natural rights before the Enlightenment?

  • How did the French and Indian War result in the Thirteen Colonies disenchantment with British authority?

  • Sample Readings

  • The “Olive Branch” Petition

  • The Declaration of Independence

  • Excerpts of the Social Contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Compare and contrast classical conservation with classic liberalism

  • Explain how Hamilton makes an implied case for judicial review in Federalist 78.

  • Write a persuasive essay about the movement that led most directly to the American Revolution: the Enlightenment, the First Great Awakening, or the French and Indian War.

  • Sample Projects

  • Benjamin Franklin frequented the Café Le Procope, where coffee became popular in Paris and where Voltaire drank up to forty cups a day. Draw two pictures comparing intellectually stimulating cities of Philadelphia and Paris in the prerevolutionary era.

  • Read short biographies of the Founding Fathers to learn what they did before the Revolutionary War. Form groups and participate in Fantasy Football-like draft to select “the most valuable players.” When the draft is over, the groups must speak to defend their picks.

  • Develop a list of conditions or prerequisites that made France ripe for revolution, essentially a recipe for revolution, as demonstrated by the French in the eighteenth century.

US History 11

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Why did France, the country with seemingly the most Enlightenment philosophers, have a violent and unsuccessful revolution, whereas Britain had a peaceful and successful one?

  • Do we really have the right to express our political opinions in print or in speech?

  • Do events and life experiences shape a political philosopher’s ideas?

  • Is a laissez-faire economy better than all other types of economic systems?

  • Sample Readings

  • Excerpts of Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers

  • Excerpts of the writings of Montesquieu

  • Excerpts of the writings of American political thinkers like Jefferson, Madison, Patrick Henry, and Alexander Hamilton.

  • The Social Contract, 1762 by Jean Jacques Rousseau

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Read excerpts of Rousseau’s works, The Social Contract, and Emile and write an expository essay about the similarities in Rousseau’s approaches to self-government and child rearing.

  • Compare and contrast the essential differences in political though of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

  • Write a short biography of a political philosopher of this era. Include a summary of his ideas, contributions, and significance in the history of political thought. Then post the biographies on the walls of the classroom and have students complete an additional writing assignment comparing and contrasting the ideas of two political philosophers.

  • Sample Projects

  • Create a chart of Enlightenment thinkers and their contributions to the founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation & the Constitution including the Bill of Rights.

  • In small groups, prepare and present an interview with Enlightenment thinkers significant to the establishment of the American government.

  • Students created raps from the perspective of the Enlightenment thinkers.

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8

This projected had students research the core beliefs of various philosophers from the Age of Enlightenment. Students were required to create a seating chart for the philosophers as if they were going to a party and needed to sit with like-minded people. Start with a list of about 20 philosophers and draw three to six round or rectangular tables with three to five people at each. Then have students create a dialogue between the people at the tables. When arranging the philosophers in their specific table, students had to identify the similarities and differences among 18th century Enlightenment political philosophers. This lesson is rather versatile and can be used for a wide variety of topics. This activity can foster productive dialogue among students as they debate which individuals should be grouped or “seated” at each table based on common characteristics.

US History 11

Students were given the assignment of creating a one verse rap based on the perspective of Enlightenment thinkers. While many students were reluctant to participate in this project due to its unfamiliar format, most enjoyed the process and the opportunity to do something unique. It's a form of poetic expression to which many students relate; and it can be used to great effect as a classroom discussion starter. In the future, this assignment should allow students to utilize a variety of musical genres in addition to rap. While all students were required to write a rap, reciting their song was optional. Extra credit was offered to encourage students to share their rap. In the future, students could also be given the option of writing a free verse poem. Overall, this assignment was well received by most students.

January 28, 2015: Chap 4--Political Revolutions

  • Teachers should encourage students to go beyond the surface information of chronological facts and dates toward developing their own theses about what they are studying.

  • We want our students to know, that no matter if they are fifth graders or seniors, these are “exciting” events.

  • The Glorious, American, French and Latin American Revolutions targeted hierarchy as well as monarchy.

  • The masses sought social mobility along with self-government.

  • Students should be able to make connections between various democratic revolutions and express opinions about contemporary struggles for self-government.

Examples: (how it can be used in grades 7,8,11)

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