Unit Plans

Home Education For Teachers Educational Resources 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.



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

In the early 1900s, the Philadelphia labor movement struggled to overcome the obstacles of the city’s close alliance between politicians and businessmen. Few workers experienced an increase in benefits and wages, let alone the formation and recognition of a union. Many ethnic groups suffered from biased hiring policies and corrupt owners.

High School
8.1.9.B, 8.1.12.B, 8.2.9.D, 8.2.12.D, 8.3.9.A, 8.3.12.A

Xenophobia has played a large role in American History from the first English settlers of Pennsylvania to the modern day fears that accompany the arrival of new immigrant groups. People's fears are based on differences in religious, cultural, and social beliefs, as well as economic and national security concerns. The documents within the unit illustrate different xenophobic organizations and laws.

High School
8.1.9.A, 8.2.9.B, 8.2.9.C, 8.2.9.D, 8.3.9.B, 8.1.U.A

This unit incorporates three documents tracing the advancement of men and women from the status of fugitive slaves to black soldiers fighting for the Union Army in the American Civil War.

High School
8.1.U.A, 8.2.U.A, 8.3.U.A, 8.2.U.B, 8.3.U.B

This unit examines the struggle women endured economically, politically, and socially in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Through the analysis of the Hucksters' Petition, National Woman Suffrage Association's Constitution, and the Equal Rights Amendment brochure, students will understand the struggle women encountered in their fight to obtain economic and political rights.

High School
8.1.9.A, 8.2.9.A, 8.1.12.A, 8.2.12.A, 8.3.9.C, 8.3.12.C

The significance of religious freedom in the founding of Pennsylvania can best be understood through an examination of the Jewish Petition to the Dutch West India Company, William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, Address to the Inhabitants of Philadelphia, and correspondence documenting the Philadelphia Bible Riots.

High School
8.1.9.A, 8.2.9.A, 8.1.12.A, 8.2.12.A, 8.2.9.C, 8.2.12.C

Philadelphia’s Chinatown, long viewed by policymakers and non-Chinatown residents as a tourist destination and a place to get a good, affordable meal, is a community with a long history. In studying the history of Chinatown, students can gain valuable knowledge about a range of histories, including the history of immigration policy in the United States, the formation of ethnic enclaves in urban environments, and the role of urban neighborhoods in the development of the city.

High School
8.1.12.A, 8.1.12.B, 8.2.9.D, 8.3.9.A, 5.3.9.G, 5.3.12.H

Exploring Nativism in Pennsylvania is a cross-curricular lesson plan that explores anti-immigrant sentiment and stereotyping during the 19th century. Using the Irish as a case study, students learn about the reasons nativism emerges in American life, and how they can apply the lessons of history to critically understand and contextualize attitudes toward immigrants today.


High School
1.4.12.C, 1.5.12.B, 8.2.9.C, 8.2.9.D, 8.2.12.C, 8.2.12.D