U.S. History

LESSON PLANS

African American History
Source: Library of Congress
Three lessons that cover: Baseball, Race Relations and Jackie Robinson, Segregation: From Jim Crow to Linda Brown, and After Reconstruction: Problems of African Americans in the South.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


American Indian History

Source: Library of Congress
Lessons that cover the American Indian Reservation Controversies and Indian Boarding Schools
Grade Level
: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, US history


The American Civil War: A Humanitarian Perspective

Source: American Red Cross
Four-lesson unit that connects American history to humanitarian law and principles. What if the Geneva Conventions had existed in the American Civil War?
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, contemporary issues


Baseball, Race and Ethnicity: Rounding the Bases
Source: Library of Congress
Uses primary sources to focused on baseball and explore the American experience regarding race and ethnicity.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Brown vs. Board of Education and School Desegregation Teaching Resources
Elementary K-5   Middle School 6-8  
High School 9-12
Source: National Education Association
Teaching materials to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education.
Subject Area:  social studies, US History, language arts


Child Labor and the Building of America

Source: Library of Congress
Uses primary source materials related to child labor in America from 1880-1920 to gain expertise in analyzing historical data. Encourages a personal sense that children significantly and heroically affected the building of America.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Child Labor in America
Source: Library of Congress
Examine the worlds of real working children, examining, responding to, and reporting on photographs as historical evidence.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for US Policy

Source: The Choices Program
A full curriculum that uses readings, case studies, and primary sources to help students examine the evolving role that human rights has played in international politics and explore the current debate on U.S. human rights policy.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History, current events


Constitutional Amendments and Gay Marriage
Source: PBS
Examines the legal battle over legalizing gay marriage and process of amending the US Constitution.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, current events, government


The Declaration of Independence: Created Equal?
 
Source: Library of Congress
Focuses on a few key concepts of the Declaration of Independence, beginning with the phrase “All men are created equal.” Students gain an appreciation of Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to deal with the complex issues of equality and slavery in the Declaration of Independence. 
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area:  social studies, US History

The Eight Stages of Genocide
Source: HRE USA
In this foundational lesson, students will learn about the different stages that lead to genocides, and therefore will allow students to understand what patterns typically serve as antecedents to genocide. It will also give students the tools necessary to identify what indicators to look for when pinpointing regions where genocides can potentially take place in the future. Understanding the stages of genocide also enables people to act to stop policies and practices that can lead to genocide.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America
Source: The Advocates for Human Rights
Engaging, student-centered curriculum with activities that follow best practices for human rights education (HRE)  Students learn by exploring their own immigrant history; role-playing a refugee’s journey; deciding under what conditions they might risk being undocumented; playing games to understand the immigration system; drawing representative pictures of policies; rehearsing deliberative dialogue; constructing a gallery of nativism over the centuries; and creating a service learning project for their classroom or school.
Grade level: Middle school – adult
Subject area: social studies


A Forgotten History: The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England

Source: The Choices Program
Explores the nature of the triangular trade and the extent of slavery in New England using readings, primary sources, and simulations. Explores how history, and the telling of history, affects us today.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Freedom Now: The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi 

Source: The Choices Program
Lesson that explores the history of the civil rights movement at the local level in Mississippi as well as the national level. Includes readings, role play, and lesson plans.

Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History

Cost: Between $41 and $100 for digital version


Fundamental Freedoms: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Source: Facing History and Ourselves
Curriculum including primary documents, connecting questions to stimulate discussion, photographs, maps, political cartoons.
Grade Level: high school


Global Environmental Problems: Implications for U.S. Policy
Source: Choices Program, 2009
Explores the relationship between public policy in the United States and the ecological health of the planet.
Price: $35 for hard copy, $30 for PDF
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


History, Human Rights, and the Power of One: Human trafficking education curriculum

Source: Fredrick Douglass Family Initiative and Not My Life
The Trafficking-Free Community (TFC) project aims to reduce the vulnerability of children to the crime of sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking through a combination of classroom curricula, educator training and the coordination of community resources. Each phase of the project, in a first-of-its-kind study, will be measured and evaluated in order to provide a clear understanding of how prevention and early intervention initiatives, geared toward youth, can impact the incidence of human trafficking in communities.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, current events

Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Civic Action
Source: HRE USA
Through primary source texts, students will apply their understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to human rights violations in postwar United States and learn about historical examples of nonviolent methods of action that individuals and groups used to address these human rights issues. Students will apply their learning of the UDHR, of the United States’ legal framework (i.e. U.S. Constitution), and of nonviolent methods of action to address a current human rights violation in the United States and to develop an action plan to address this human rights violation.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies

Human Rights in National Memory
Source: HRE USA Curriculum Integration Guide
In this lesson, students explore and deconstruct nationalism in historical interpretation and consider how politics, power, and identity influence the recognition of human rights violations and issues in contemporary society as well as in the context of national history. This lesson/project should be done at the end of a US history course or following a unit on the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It can also be done in an upper-class elective course relating to human rights and genocide. Students will need prior knowledge on American history from the 1700s – 1950 including the creation of the United Nations and the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Grade Level: High school
Subject Area: social studies

The Industrial Revolution & Workers’ Rights
Source: HRE USA
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the effects that the development of industrial capitalism had on industrial workers in Europe and the United States in the 19th century, to introduce students to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an instrument by which they can understand and measure industrial workers’ rights with human rights issues, and to allow students to apply their understanding of workplace issues as human rights issues to contemporary scenarios involving workers’ rights.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


Japanese American Internment
Source: Library of Congress
Uses primary sources to explore a period in United States history when 120,000 Japanese Americans were evacuated from the West Coast and held in internment camps.
Grade Level: upper elementary
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Learning to Respect Each Other
Source: Discovery Education
Addresses racism and stereotyped thinking through the positive example of Martin Luther King.
Grade Level: K – 5
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Lewis and Clark: The Unheard Voices
Source: Anti-Defamation League, 2004
Special issue of ADL Curriculum Connections with lesson plans and resources that take an in-depth look at the history of U.S. expansion and Indian policy and present the voices and perspectives of Native Americans on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Grade Level: elementary – high school
Subject Area: geography, social studies, global education


Lorraine Hansberry: LGBT Politics and Civil Rights

Source: Teaching Tolerance
Analysis of the connection between civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. Explore the interplay between the ideas and activism that shaped the political movements after World War II.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, language arts, US History

The New Deal and Human Rights
Source: HRE USA
This lesson invites students to identify what human rights through an evaluation and critique of the New Deal with a human rights lens. Students will first develop a working definition of “human” and “rights”, and then “human rights”; from there, students will review various New Deal reforms in order to decide whether or not human rights are being fulfilled by the New Deal or are being violated by the New Deal. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to assess the extent to which the United States was able to meet citizens’ basic human rights.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies

Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Source: HRE USA Curriculum Integration Guide
This lesson provides students with an opportunity to evaluate indigenous human rights as proposed by past or current legislation or international agreements. In this specific lesson, students will evaluate the United States government’s American Indian policy of the late 1800’s; however, the lesson can be adapted for any class that addresses indigenous people’s rights or people.
Grade Level: High school
Subject Area: social studies, global education


The Right to Work in Dignity: Human Rights and Economic Rights

Source: New York University Projects
Uses the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire to examine the right to work.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


Rights Auction
Source: Close Up Foundation
Compares and evaluates US Constitutional Rights and human rights in the UDHR.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, government


Responding to Terrorism: Challenges to Democracy
Source: The Choices Program
Examines the issues surrounding the 9.11.01 attacks and the U.S. response to terrorism in a constructive context that promotes dialogue about future policy directions.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Slavery in the United States: Primary Sources and the Historical Record

Source: Library of Congress
Introduces students to primary sources — what they are, their great variety, and how they can be analyzed. Begins with an activity that helps students understand the historical record. Students then learn techniques for analyzing primary sources. Finally, students apply these techniques to analyze documents about slavery in the United States.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History

Slavery Still Exists Today
Source: HRE USA
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves estimates that there are 30 million enslaved people on the earth today. Students have the distinct opportunity to make a difference by raising awareness and communicating effective measures. This lesson seeks to inspire students to confront modern-day slavery through the mobilization of an awareness campaign.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


Teaching with Documents: Documentation of Child Labor

Source: National Resources
Uses the early 20th century photographs of Charles Hine to study child labor.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Tolerance in Times of Trial

Source: PBS
Uses the treatment of citizens of Japanese and German ancestry during World War II as historical examples of ethnic conflict during times of trial. Examines contemporary examples of ethnic conflict, discrimination, and stereotyping at home and abroad.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


This is My Home
Source: Human Rights Resource Center
Lessons on US History
Grade Level: High school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


This is My Home: Migration
Source: Human Rights Resource Center
Background information, lesson plans, action opportunities, resources, and publication.
Grade level: Elementary
Subject area: social studies

The UDHR & Contemporary Issues
Source: HRE USA
This lesson asks students to correlate the UDHR to current newspaper articles which illustrate the portrayal of human rights in one of four situations (rights achieved, rights denied, rights violated, rights in conflict). Students will explain that situation, the correlation to the UDHR, and then write a reflection on the role of the UDHR in potentially resolving the situation.
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies


The United Nations: Challenges and Change
The United Nations: Challenges and Change
Source: The Choices Program
A full curriculum that introduces the debates about the role of the UN in the world, including trying to end civil wars, enact environmental regulation, and coordinate efforts to alleviate poverty. Explores how the United States must consider the role it will play within the organization and the role it should have in international affairs.
Grade Level:
high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


U.S. Immigration Policy in an Unsettled World

Source: The Choices Program
Full curriculum that explores the history of immigration to the United States and prepares students to articulate their own views on the future of immigration policy. Offers readings, role play, and lesson plans.
Grade level: high school
Subject area: social studies, US History, current events


Using Obama’s Speech on Race in the Classroom
Source: Teaching Tolerance
Uses Obama’s 2008 speech on racism to explore race and racial history.
Grade Level: middle – high school
Subject Area: social studies

Whose Fruits and Just Desserts?
Source: Voices Across Time: American History through Music
Examines the causes and consequences of labor unrest in the early 20th century, considering both the needs and wants of labor and the reactions of “capital.” Examines these opposing interests and needs and how they continue to play a key role in contemporary American society
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, US History


Women’s History
Source: Library of Congress
Lessons include: Suffrage Strategies: Voices for Votes, Suffragists and Their Tactics, and Women’s Suffrage: Their Rights and Nothing Less
Grade Level: high school
Subject Area: social studies, women’s history

BOOKS

We The Students: Supreme Court Cases for and About America’s Students
This textbook provides a student-oriented understanding of the US Constitution, utilizing cases about young people and their rights as the content and offering competing perspectives as well as context for the analysis of the conflicts evident in each case.  The cases range from those dealing with freedom of expression (Tinker vs Des Moines Independent School District and Hazelwood vs. Kulhmeier) to searches of students and their belongings (State of New Jersey vs. T. L. O.) and equal protection and the constitutional struggle for integrated schools (Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas) and many others. Accompanying Teaching guide: A simulation of how Supreme Court justices are nominated and confirmed is provided in the text, along with a copy of the US Constitution, discussion questions and suggested research projects.

  • Author:  James B. Raskin
  • Source:  Congressional Quarterly Publications.  4th edition.  2013.
  • Grade Level:  high school – higher education.
  • Subject Area: social studies, government

FILMS

Harlan County, USA
Director: Barbara Kopple, 1976
Academy Award-winning documentary of the struggle between striking unionized coal miners and their employer. Emphasizes the right of workers to organize labor unions and the violence resistance they encounter.
Time: 103 minutes
Grade Level: high school – adult
Subject Area: social studies


Nine from Little Rock

Director: 
Charles Guggenheim
Academy Award-winning documentary about the first nine African-American students to attend an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957.
Time: 20 minutes
Grade Level: middle school – adult