Unit Plans

Need new ideas on how to teach American history? Search our database of plans to discover plans aligned to 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.

Check back often as over the next few months we update and post unit and lesson plans that existed on our previous website.

 

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American fraternal societies have existed since 1700s. New immigrants were usually welcomed as members in these organizations.  By the 1890s, however, when millions of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe began arriving in the United States, a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and racist attitudes created a bias against allowing new immigrants and African Americans to join the older societies. Prevented from joining established societies like the Freemasons or Knights of Pythias, new immigrants and blacks formed their own.

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.12.B
8.2.12.D

Through the use primary sources, this unit introduces students to Italian immigration as well as the settlement and the development of Italian American ethnic identity in Pennsylvania. So many Italians headed to Pennsylvania looking for jobs that, from 1890 to 1960, their population by state was the second highest in the country, behind only New York State.

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.12.B
8.2.12.A+D
8.3.12.D
1.1.12.D
1.2.12.B

In this unit, students will examine the important and chaging role of the railroad in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They will learn about the railroad from two perspetives: those who worked on the railroad and those who rode the railroad. Students will come to understand the change in immigrant labor on the rails over time, gain knowledge of the working conditions and life experiences of immigrant railroad workers, and examine how railroads shaped larger social standards for behavior and comfort. 

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.9.A
8.1.12.A +B
8.3.9.B
8.3.12.B
1.2.9. A +D
1.2.11. D
1.2.12.A
1.6.10.A

In 1923, Bethlehem Steel president Eugene Grace negotiated a contract labor agreement with the Mexican Consulate for the recruitment of a Mexican labor force. The issues surrounding this event echo many of the same arguments and problems of the modern-day immigration debate.This unit explores the circumstances surrounding Bethlehem Steel’s recruitment of Mexican labor.

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.12.A
8.3.9.B
8.3.12.C
1.3.9 A + B

The Cold War was sparked by the immediate aftermath of World War II. The Allied Forces were divided by ideology and quickly separated into two camps: the Western democracies, led by the United States, and the Communist nations, dominated by the Soviet Union. This alignment served as the basic framework of the Cold War over the next fifty years, from 1947-1991. As America positioned itself in opposition to totalitarian regimes, American citizens were forced to confront realities of what "freedom" meant, or should mean.

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.9.A
8.1.9.B

This unit enables students to analyze political cartoons and meet Core Standards in Reading for History and Social Studies. By utilizing specific cartoons from different points of history students, will develop their critical thinking skills in order to understand the author’s point of view through the use of symbolism and irony. Students will use both their language and historical knowledge to determine the author’s purpose and whether or not the cartoon was effective.

Grade Level: Middle School
Standards:
8.1.6-8.B
8.3.6-8.B
R6.A.1.4.1
R6.A.1.6.1

This unit enables students to analyze political cartoons and meet Core Standards in Reading for History and Social Studies. By utilizing specific cartoons from different points of history, such as the Civil War and Presidential Elections, students will develop their critical thinking skills in order to understand the author’s point of view through the use of symbolism, irony, and analogy. Students will use both their language and historical knowledge to determine the author’s purpose and whether or not the cartoon was effective.

Grade Level: Grade School
Standards:
8.1.3-5.B
8.3.3-5.A
R3.A.2.6.1
R4.A.2.3.1

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion. It also decreed that freed slaves could be enlisted in the Union Army, thereby increasing the Union's available manpower. It was an important step towards abolishing slavery and conferring American citizenship upon ex-slaves, although the Proclamation did not actually outlaw slavery or free the slaves in the Union states that still permitted it.

Grade Level: High School
Standards: 8.3.9.A-B, D

William Penn was the founder of the Pennsylvania colony. This unit will teach students about William Penn’s life and what Pennsylvania was like as a colony in the 1600s. This unit will discuss the founding of Pennsylvania, the relationship of the settlers with the Native Americans, the Charter of Privileges written by William Penn to govern the colony, and it will compare the 17th century colony to Philadelphia today.

Grade Level: Grade School
Standards:
8.1.3-5.B
8.2.3-5.D
1.4.5.C
1.5.3-5
M3-5.B.2.1.1
M3-5.A.1.2.2

We live in a society that is the direct result of the work and sacrifices of previous generations. It is often difficult for 21st-century students to understand that there was a time in the not too distant past when workers had little legal recourse against abusive employers. In fact, the law was on the side of the often unscrupulous industrialist. Few realize that minimum wage laws, the 8-hour workday (or 40-hour week), safe work environments, and the prohibition of child labor are benefits we enjoy because of the efforts of the American labor movement.

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
8.1.U A & C
8.3.U B-D
5.3.C B