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.

 

 

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In the 19th century, both Southwark and Kensington became home to large Irish communities. The Kensington neighborhood was also home to American-born, mostly Protestant workers, and artisans. In 1844, the Protestant “native” Americans and the Catholic Irish immigrants of Kensington clashed violently for three days during the infamous “Bible Riots.”

Grade Level: High School
Standards:
1.4.12.C
1.5.12.B
8.2.9.C-D
8.2.12.C-D

The Vietnam War was a period of American involvement in Southeast Asia from 1961-1975 in which U.S. troops fought to try to stop communist North Vietnam and their allies from overtaking South Vietnam. Much of the War was fought in a non-traditional guerilla style, and there were many casualties on both sides. As the War continued and more young men were drafted, it became increasingly unpopular with the American public. Photographs and videos shown on the news, many of which were graphic and upsetting, brought the War into the American home

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

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