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

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Social Studies 7

  • What makes a government legitimate?

  • Why do some revolutions succeed and sum fail?

  • What were the political and economic reasons for the American Revolution?

  • Sample Readings

  • The English Bill of Rights

  • “The Glorious Revolution” by Dr. Edward Vallance, BBC

  • The Origins of the French Revolution” by Steven Kreiss, 2006

  • Simon Bolivar and the Spanish Revolutions” by John Lynch, 1983.

  • Write a narrative essay about the experiences of the following people during the French Revolution:

  • Robespierre, Danton, Marat, De Gouges

  • Write a persuasive essay about why the Glorious Revolution worked as a democratic revolution when the English Civil War less than a half century before had not

  • Write an expository essay comparing and contrasting tow Latin American revolutions with regard to motives, imperial power, rebel leadership, tactics, support and progress.

  • Sample Projects

  • Form groups and create storyboards to summarize and teach the entire class about their revolution.

  • Debate the pros and cons of constitutional monarchy as a solution to the problems of Britain. Consider the perspectives of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and the presence of an existing representative government.

  • Create a timeline of the American Revolution that is not just a straight line, but jagged, with high points for moves in the right direction and low points for moves in the wrong direction

Social Studies 8

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Was the American Revolution inevitable?

  • How did the Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies defeat the British forces when they were supposedly the best army and navy in the world?

  • What are the causes of political revolution?

  • Sample Readings

  • The Declaration of Independence

  • The Articles of Confederation

  • The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights

  • Selections from the Federalism Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • Write a narrative essay about three key events that resulted in Patriot victory in the American Revolution.

  • Write an expository essay about how three leading men from Virginia—Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington played the roles of the voice, the pen, and the sword in the American Revolution.

  • In a letter to James Madison, in response to Shay’s Rebellion, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Write a persuasive essay in support or opposition to this statement with regard to the issue at hand in 1787 and with regard to current concerns in national politics.

  • Sample Projects

  • As a class, conduct the first presidential election in US history. Include George Washington on the ballot, but also include John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Debate to make your case for the best candidate, and then vote.

  • Form a group of Patriots and a group of Loyalists, and then create lists of reasons to break from or stay a part of the British Empire.

  • From three groups representing Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and debate in five round—(1) speech and writings, (2)leading men and women, (3) activists and soldiers, (4) resources and finance, and (5) cooperation and diplomacy—to determine which state was most influential in winning the American Revolution and establishing the enduring republic.

US History 11

  • Sample Essential Questions

  • Could a political revolution take place in the United States?

  • Is civil disobedience a form of revolution?

  • Is the aspiration for democracy undeniable?

  • Are all political revolutions also economic revolutions?

  • Sample Readings

  • Thomas Jefferson’s letters to James Madison during the period surrounding Shay’s Rebellion

  • George Washington’s statements about Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion

  • The Declaration of Independence, for the economic content.

  • The relevant portions of the Constitution that rate to dissent and treason:

  • The First Amendment

  • Article III, Section III

  • Sample Writing Assignments

  • In an essay, describe how the Constitution makes future revolutions in the United States difficult, if not impossible.

  • Explain whether Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were revolutions and describe how the government responded to each. Defend a position as to whether the rebels in either rebellion were justified or the government was justified in its response.

  • Compare and contrast the structural changes that occurred in the governments of England, France, and the United States, the Articles of Confederation , after the English Revolution of 1642, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution

  • Sample Projects

  • Divide the class in half and stage mock trials of the defendants in Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. Before holding the trials, students should do enough research to provide adequate background information about the issues to support prosecution and defense arguments. To add additional student roles, hypothetical press coverage of the trials including editorials can be included, and some students can write a historical postscript to each rebellion.

  • Using historical examples of political protests, debate the pros and cons of the effectiveness of political protest.

  • Research examples of economic protests that have occurred in history and create protest posters that illustrate the issues surrounding those protests.

  • Have students compare the differences between the causes of Shays’ and the Whiskey Rebellion.

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8

The Shays’ Rebellion role-play activity successfully engaged students in a simulation that mirrored the attitudes of the principal players involved in the changing economic, and social and ethical issues confronting the citizens of Massachusetts during the time of Shays’ Rebellion. The different points of view that students simulated include farmers, merchants, townspeople, bankers and government officials. This activity could certainly be used once again when studying the Whiskey Rebellion later in the Federalism Unit. While this was an engaging lesson, it was also time consuming. In order for students in this age group to have a productive dialogue, it required students to have several days of preparation prior to the activity in order to assure they understood the factors involved in Shays’ Rebellion.

US History 11

This lesson focused on the balance between protest and patriotism in American society by using Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”. Many regard the song as a patriotic anthem. However, a closer look at the lyrics reveals something far more complex than simple patriotism. In this lesson, students analyzed the song’s lyrics for a variety of rhetorical devices to discover how the song is both a praise and indictment of America. This lesson led to a lively discussion in each class regarding whether or not Born in the USA is an example of protest or patriotism. This project would work with a variety of different songs and genres of music. To broaden this assignment, you could also incorporate film and television. For example, students could analyze clips from Saturday Night Live’s election sketches in order to analyze use of satire in our electoral process. Use of contemporary media can foster a higher level of engagement among this age group.

Chapter 5 – The Industrial Revolution
Classroom Examples

Grade 7/8:
Sample Essential Questions

Sample Readings

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

Global 9:
Sample Essential Questions

Sample Readings

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8:

Global 9:

Study Group: Summary – History Repeats Itself in the Classroom, Too! Prior Knowledge and Implementing the Common Core State Standards
February 4, 2015: Chapter 5 – The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was not always thought of as the “industrial revolution. It was only later on that historians used this label as a means to describing the historical importance of this time period. As teachers, we tend to over-look small details such as this, and instead try to focus on the “big-picture.” The author suggests that time should be spent on these small facts as a means of allowing students to become historians. Teachers need to give students the “tool-kit” necessary to collect and analyze information as historians would.

The Industrial Revolution had a global impact that spans the social studies curriculum, including World History, US history, American Government and economics. As such, if students have access to an historians “tool-kit” at a young age, it will create many opportunities for an enriching curriculum by the time student’s graduate.
Classroom Examples

Grade 7/8: Teaching about the US Industrial Revolution needs to be taught through a global lens. The industrial revolution not only influenced life in the United States but had gigantic on our foreign policy; For example, because of US industrial power during both world wars, the US was able to supply machinery for Allied victories. The Industrial Revolution is also a perfect unit to make present day cross-curricular connections with the history behind America’s global dominance in computer technology.
Sample Essential Questions

  • How did the Industrial Revolution change America’s role and influence in the world?

  • How did the Industrial Revolution create more economic opportunities and a new vision of “the American Dream”?

Sample Readings

  • A History of Standard Oil by Ida Tarbell

  • “The Man with the Muck Rake” by Teddy Roosevelt

  • The jungle by Upton Sinclair

  • How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

  • Write and expository essay about how an invention works and how it made life easier for people.

  • Re-enact working on an assembly line. Compete in rows to draw and invention. Each student draws one part of the picture.

  • Assume the role of an inventor, and advertise an invention from the American Industrial Revolution.

Global 9: It is suggested that political revolutions should not always be taught before economic revolutions. Economic issues such as political stability, economic opportunity, resources and innovation are the basis of most political revolutions, therefore, it would make more sense to establish these foundations first.
Sample Essential Questions

  • What were the cost and benefits of industrialization? Why did some people resist it?

  • How did capitalism become the dominant economic system?

Sample Readings

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

  • Write an account of industrialization from the perspective of someone who used to live in the countryside and do the work by hand and then moved to the city and did the work on a machine.

  • Create a timeline of industrialization by country

  • Take the Luddite challenge, and go without technology for a day

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8: Students had a great time reenacting and assembly line at one of Henry Ford’s plants. Students learned how cars were mass produced, that anyone could work on assembly line – including immigrants who could not speak English. Students also saw the down-side of the assembly line on workers – health issues, boring, etc. This activity will lay the groundwork for global studies activity where students will write an account of an industrial worker.

Global 9: Since the 8th grade teacher typically has student participate in an assembly line activity to demonstrate the mechanics of the assembly line and to show the effects on workers in factories during the industrial revolution, in global studies we tried to do a continuation of this activity and used the author’s idea to have students write an account of someone who once lived in the country-side and made entire product themselves and then moved to the city working on a machine. Students were able to choose what they made, such as clothing, furniture, etc. 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! I will use this activity again.

February 11, 2015: Chapter 6 – Imperialism


Imperialism is covered throughout the study of American and World history and has had led to the immense gap between the colonies and the colonizers. Typically, imperialism is studied through the lens of “Old” imperialism and “New” imperialism. The goals of both the Old and New imperialists were generally the same: Gold, God and Glory, as were the effects: native peoples were exploited, enslaved and perished due to military action.

In culturally diverse school settings imperialism can be a sensitive topic of study because of one countries domination over another. As teachers it is important to help students feel proud of their heritage while at the same time gaining an honest understanding of history.

Classroom Example

Grade 7/8: The study of American imperialism should start at home through the discussion of Manifest Destiny, displacement and genocide of Native Americans and other territorial acquisitions. The discussion should then extend to the building of an overseas empire with in-depth study on Theodore Roosevelt and other American leaders who shaped US foreign policy in Latin America and Asia. The role of US corporations should also be analyzed.
Sample Essential Questions:

  • Did the US always have imperialistic ambitions?

  • Which countries found more opportunities and then who faced greater challenges because of US imperialism?

Sample Readings

  • The First “Open Door” note by Secretary of State John Hay to Andrew D. White, 1899

  • The Roosevelt Corollary, 1904 State of the Union Address

  • To the Persons Sitting in Darkness by Mark Twain

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

  • Read Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” and Mark Twain’s “To the Persons Sitting in the Darkness.” Write and expository essay about the imperialist and anti-imperialist arguments regarding US control of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.

  • Write a persuasive essay to support or refute this statement. “I didn’t steal the Panama Canal. I built it.”-Teddy Roosevelt

  • Form groups and act out the pivotal scenes of American Imperialism in Alaska, Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine’s, China and Japan.

Global 9: Between the late 15th century to the late 19th century imperialist countries such as Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, France and the Dutch controlled and/or exploited many areas around the world, including much of Africa and Asia. Humanitarian efforts were made to help indigenous peoples from Western subjugation and oppression, however, for many, the gap between the colonies and colonizers can still be felt.
Sample Essential Questions

  • How did the “New Imperialism” differ from the “Old Imperialism”

  • How did the European powers negotiate to divide and control African in the late nineteenth century?

Sample Reading

  • White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

  • Write an expository essay comparing Western Imperialism in African and Asia. Choose two countries to discuss for each continent

  • Draw two political cartoons to illustrate imperialism in a particular region, one from the perspective of the imperialists and another from the perspective of the colonists

  • Create a poster to create the settlement and relationships between the British colonists and the native people in one of the following locations: South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8: After studying the basics of how the United States got “permission” to build a canal in Panama, students analyzed Theodore Roosevelt’s quote “I didn’t steal the Panama Canal. I built it.” Students were divided up into four groups, two groups were given the task of compiling evidence to support Teddy Roosevelt’s quote and two groups had to refute the quote. 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.
Global 9: 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 colonialism. Then we had students create their own political cartoons at the end of the Age of Exploration 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 imperialism in their political cartoon.
The more work we do as a department at all levels, grades 7 through 12, will greatly help to create more meaningful understand of political cartoons by the time of graduation.

February 25, 2015: Chapter 7 – The First World War


In addition to studying the First World War during US and World history, there is still much to be studied during economics and participation in government class. Once students have had a solid historical foundation of this event, students can then explore the changing roles of the three branches of government, as well as important changes in the economies of the US and the world.

The author suggests that students tend to know more about WWII, through movies and video games, than about WWI. Even though all wars are tragic, WWI may be more tragic because the reasons for the start of the war are still unclear. Economics and government teachers have an opportunity to “bring history to life” through a discussion on treaties, alliances, the Espionage and Sedition Acts, the first Red Scare, etc.
Classroom Example

Grade 7/8: Unlike the Spanish-American War, which was described by many Americans as a “splendid little war,” WWI was “the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth.” WWI had a profound influence on the solders and those at home and left many Americans feeling that the US was vulnerable when it came to international conflicts and resolutions
Sample Essential Questions

  • Why did the US take so long to declare war against the Central Powers?

  • What would have happened if the US had not joined the Allied war effort?

  • Why did the US senate reject the Treaty of Versailles and US membership in the League of Nations?

Sample Readings

  • President Wilson’s Fourteen Points

  • The Zimmerman Telegram

  • Report on the Sinking of the Lusitania

Sample Writing Assignments and Projects

  • Argue for or against US involvement in WWI. Was the US government justified in sacrificing American lives for a European cause?

  • Examine and annotate the Zimmerman Telegram: its code, validity, source and potential threat

Global 9: Students should know there are many misleading terms about WWI; It was not the first war to inflict major destruction in Europe, therefore calling it WWI may not be the best title; it wasn’t a war to persevere democracy as it lead to the rise of dictators in Europe; and it wasn’t the war to end all wars as WWI eventually led to WWII.
Sample Essential Questions

  • Was WWI inevitable?

  • Which of the MAIN causes of WWI was most significant?

Sample Readings

  • “The Blank Check” telegram from the Imperial Chancellor, von Bethmann-Hollweg, to the German Ambassador at Vienna, Tschirshky, July 6, 1914

  • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, 1962

  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Sample writing assignments and projects

  • Read primary source accounts from an average soldier, nurse and/or civilian

  • Listen to songs from WWI, and create original ones with terms and themes of that era.

  • Create a six-part (foldable on a sheet of white paper to categorize, add bullet points and illustrate the most important facts about WWI

Success/Failure in the classroom

Grade 7/8: Students examined the Zimmerman telegram’s code and validity. First students learned the code and deciphered a telegram similar to the actual message; this is an activity that has been used in the past with great success. This time I also had student students participate in a mini web-quest to investigate one of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Zimmerman Telegram; this activity made history seem real to the students and kept them engaged in their learning.

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