*We use this text for 8th and 9th grades. 8th grade goes through Chap 13
and 9th finishes the text. This is our first year splitting U.S. History. It
to be taught all in 9th grade, but largely due to my involvement in the
history grant and the discussions with colleagues from other schools, our
school board agreed with the change. We chose this book because of it's
large amount of primary source materials included throughout each
chapter and it's well written humorous style.
Chapter 1 - Three Worlds Meet
new title: Clash of Cultures
This chapter covers the world around 1492 and then gets into transatlantic
encounters. I like the way the chapter shows what was going on in the
world during this critical time period. It provides a good background on
Native American societies, Western African societies, and European
societies and how they will soon clash. The coverage of Columbus'
voyage is historically accurate. The chapter shows how events were set
into motion as a result.
Chapter 2 - The American Colonies Emerge
new title: Europe's colonization of the Americas
This chapter covers Spanish influence in the Americas along with England,
France, Netherlands, and other European countries. It shows how the
colonies were built and describes the cultures of each group of people
who settled in them. I have added a lot to this unit outside of the text. My
background knowledge from the history grant has proven very valuable.
The materials and ideas learned from presenters and participants on the
puritans puts the text to shame. Especially, the Puritan names from Gary
Nash. The students really enjoyed that discussion. One activity my 8th
graders do is create a colony based on a fictitious religion. Their group
comes up with laws, for the colony, they make up what their homes look
like, their clothing, music, and any other culturally based idea.
Chapter 3 - The Colonies Come of Age
new title: European Colonies Thrive
I would change this chapter by removing the French & Indian War and
discussing that as a pre-curser to the revolution. The first three sections
are fine, however. The students get a good look at the differences
between the northern and southern colonies. The Salem Witch Trials are
included in this chapter and once again via the history grant, I now have a
wealth of information and ideas thanks to Mary Beth Norton. I wasn't
aware of how the northern colonies helped fuel slavery. My students are
amazed with some of the information we share.
Chapter 4 - The War for Independence
new title: A new country is born
As I said previously, I would include the F&I War when studying the
Revolution. The chapter as it is written really condenses the Revolution so
I add much more. The trading card activity sounds like a productive way to
encourage middle school students to research various people from the
era. Another idea I picked up was to show parts of movies based on the
Revolution. The Patriot, The Crossing, etc. There is so much information
and ideas out there that I'm finding it challenging to select the right
Part of our rationale to split U.S. History was to spend more time on this
important time period in our History.
Chapter 5 - Shaping a New Nation
new title: Forging a Path for a New Country
This chapter covers the process on drafting the Articles of Confederation
and the Constitution. I don't think I could have taught this topic without
hearing Fred Drake's 10th Federalist discussion. When studying the
Constitution I have the students create a classroom Bill of Rights and
compare that to how the original was constructed. I spend a lot of time
working with the constitution in class, it kind of doubles as a government class
just in time for the state testing.
Chapter 6 - Launching a New Nation
new title: Testing the Experiment
George Washington as the first president, the Lewis and Clark expedition,
and the War of 1812 are the major topics in this chapter. It makes for an
interesting variety, but I think the text makes the material fit in a
way. During this chapter, I'll make use of the many activities I got through
the History Grant. The Washington papers and the Lewis and Clark
activities are very useful.
Chapter 7 - Balancing Nationalism and Sectionalism
new title: Somehow Making the Country Work
This chapter covers the the sense of nationalism that encourages
westward expansion and also covers the sectionalist ideas of some of the
states. The Trail of Tears is discussed as a result of the westward
expansion ideas that come out of the Jackson era.
Chapter 8 -Reforming American Society
new title: Promoting the Rights of all Americans
Abolition of slavery is covered along with early women's reforms and
changes in manufacturing.
Chapter 9 - Expanding Markets and Moving West
new title: Effects of Manifest Destiny
Westward expansion and how it affects the plains people along with the
issues in Texas and the War with Mexico are covered in this chapter.
Chapter 10 - The Union in Peril
new title: On the Brink of failure
The politics or slavery and secession from the union are some of the
Chapter 11 - The Civil War
new title: The War between the States
In 8th grade, we end the school year with this topic. I will have several
activities planned that will last throughout the 4th quarter.