Unit Plans

Unit Plans

Need new ideas on how to teach American history? Search our database of plans to discover plans aligned to  Common Core Standards and the Pennsylvania State Standards (SAS).    Big Ideas, Essential Question, Concepts and Competencies are outlined for you. 

Unit plans link to lesson plans that fit class periods.  Each lesson includes learning objectives, vocabulary, and background material for students and teachers as well as primary sources from our collection.



...I hope, therefore, that my beloved countrymen and all Germany will care no less to obtain accurate information as to how far it is to Pennsylvania, how long it takes to get there; what the journey costs, and be sides, what hardships and dangers one has to pass through; what takes place when the people arrive well or ill in the country; how they are sold and dispersed; and finally, the nature and condition of the whole land. I relate both what is good and what is evil...
--Gottlieb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania, 1754

High School
8.2.12.A , 8.2.12.B , 8.2.12.D

This lesson is part of a suite of lesson plans associated with PhilaPlace, that explores the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.  This unit reolves around the physical and social meeting place of ethnic cultures in an urban setting.  Particularly, the unit discusses the erection of a mural wall located on 9th street in downtown Philadelphia.  The unit explores, through discussion, direct isntruction and  the creation of personal wall murals, how different cultures can use a physical space to incorporate different traditions and beliefs to create a new, mo

High School
8.2.8.A, 8.2.8.B, 8.2.8.C, 8.2.8.D, 8.3.8.D, 7.3.C.A

The Ninth Street Market is one of the nation’s oldest open-air markets, established around the turn of the 20th century by Italian immigrants who sold fruits, vegetables, and meats from carts and stands. The early commercial activities of the market were shaped by the factory life that surrounded the market.

Middle School, High School
8.2.9.A, 8.2.12.B, 8.2.12.C, 7.1.6.A, 7.1.6.B, 7.3.12.A

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which gave the military broad powers to ban any citizen from a coastal area stretching from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona. For the next four years, more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry—77,000 of them American citizens—were removed from this area and incarcerated indefinitely without criminal charges or trial. Forty-six years and eight presidents later, on August 10, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 into law.

High School
8.1.9.B, 8.1.12.A , 8.1.12.B , 8.3.9.A, 8.3.12.A, 8.3.12.D

When the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Philadelphia was the largest city and Pennsylvania was by far the largest state in which women had not previously had the right to vote. Several Pennsylvanians had been prominent leaders in the long struggle to secure woman suffrage. Women like Dora Lewis and Caroline Katzenstein were active in the Pennsylvania and national branches of both the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the National Woman’s Party (NWP), the two organizations most responsible for the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment.

High School
8.1.12.C, 5.2.12.A, 5.3.12.F, 8.2.12 A, 8.2.12.D

The Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia operated between 1837 and 1852; it was the secret auxiliary of the Vigilant Association. The Vigilant Association was a group formed by the ardent abolitionist, Robert Purvis, in August 1837 to publicly promote antislavery ideology and "to create a fund to aid colored persons in distress." The Vigilant Committee's purpose was to appoint offices, raise revenue, and have resources readily available to assist runaway slaves while they stayed in or passed through Philadelphia. The organization dissolved in 1852.

High School
8.2.9.A , 8.2.12.D, 8.3.12.D, 8.3.9.B, 1.4.6-8C

Antebellum Philadelphia was home to the largest free black community in Philadelphia. These lessons explore the ways in which the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS) worked with and for that community, providing education and employment assistance in the years following abolition in Pennsylvania and before the Civil War. The PAS also took an important role in documenting this community through censuses and home visits throughout the antebellum period.

Middle School, High School
8.1.9.A, 8.1.9.B, 8.1.U.B, 8.1.U.C., 8.2.9.B., C.C.8.5.9-10.A

Primary sources can enrich curriculum and engage students if used properly.  However, introducing students to using primary sources can be a daunting task. Use the lesson in this unit to introduce students to primary and secondary sources, to introduce the idea of multiple historical perspectives and to build skills for historical analysis.

Middle School, High School
8.1.7.B, 8.1.8.B, 8.1.9.B, 8.1.12.B

In 1701, William Penn created a Charter of Privileges for the residents of his colony. Penn envisioned a colony that permitted religious freedom, the consent and participation of the governed, as well as other laws pertaining to property rights.

Middle School
8.2.7.B, 8.2.8.B, 8.2.6.A, 8.2.6.B, 8.2.7.A, 8.3.8.A

On June 1, 1812, the United States of America declared war on the British. Several international factors led President James Madison to declare war after years of failed negotiations and laws aimed at preventing another conflict with the British.

Grade School
8.1.3.C, 8.1.4.C, 8.1.5.C, 8.3.3.B, 8.3.4.B, 8.3.5.B