Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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America's History in the Making

About the Course

America’s History in the Making will enrich teachers’ knowledge of American history, while introducing them to methods that will help them develop their own classroom applications. The course explores American history content and classroom applications through the integreated use of video, text, classroom activities, and Web-based interactive activities.

Developed through a consortium of seven education service districts (ESDs) and area education agencies (AEAs) across the U.S., and in partnership with the National Center for History in the Schools and the Organization for American Historians, the series aligns with and supports state and district standards for American history.

America’s History in the Making comprises of twenty-two units, seventeen of which (Units 1–4, 6–10, 13–16, and 18–21) contain video and text materials, Web interactives, and hands-on activities. The remaining five units distributed throughout the series (Units 5, 11, 12, 17, and 22) are classroom application units and have no video-related materials. All of the materials can be used as stand-alone units, or support a four– to eight-credit, graduate-level history course through Southern Oregon University (sou.edu). For information on graduate credit, go to learner.org.

The series begins with pre-contact Native American history and continues through present day. Using these materials, teachers can simultaneously build content knowledge and explore new applications. The content is thematically organized within each unit, with all of the media combining to support the themes.

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Goals and Intended Audience

The goal of America’s History in the Making is to give teachers additional history content and methods to use in the classroom. This professional development series uses each medium in concert with one another—integrating and supporting different learning methods and styles. The thematic organization helps teachers explore each era from multiple perspectives, enriching teachers’ understanding of the era. The use of activities built around primary and secondary source materials will help teachers develop their own classroom applications of the content.

The intended audience of America’s History in the Making is middle- and high-school teachers of history, social studies, civics, humanities, and other subjects relating to or directly influenced by the study of history.

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How Topics Were Chosen

Choosing the proper content to present in a multimedia series is challenging—making decisions about the more than 800 years of American history to fit into a 60-hour course can be daunting. The selected histories, biographies, and topics were carefully chosen by a board of academic advisors—including historians, professors, middle- and high-school history teachers, and professionals in the fields of education and professional development (see Advisors). The course topics intentionally reflect a diversity of characters, personas, and geographies, with the goal of providing a broad and accurate account of the history of the United States from pre-contact through present day.

Rigorous testing of the course was conducted by an independent evaluation company (see Advisors) with history teachers from around the U.S. Results of the evaluation were taken into consideration, and the final course components were adjusted based on the results and recommendations of the evaluation.

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Assumption of User Knowledge

The material presented in America’s History in the Making assumes that users have a basic knowledge of the history of the United States. Most history teachers will have a familiarity with some of the characters and events in the materials. An effort was made, however, to include new characters and lesser-known—but equally important—events from the history of the United States to extend teachers’ knowledge beyond the well-known. A basic knowledge of the geography of the United States will also be helpful in understanding several themes dealing with early colonization of the continent and the geographical expansion over time.

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Course Components

Text Chapters
The text chapters (see Support Materials) deepen the ideas and concepts explored in the videos and Web components. A timeline accompanies each chapter, tying the unit content to the larger scope of time and events.

Each chapter offers core content for a conceptual understanding of the historical eras covered and includes some or all of the following:

• extensive excerpts from Created Equal and American People, two leading college-level textbooks

• articles from the Magazine of History and other sources

• period and contemporary maps with additional content

• a contextual timeline

• primary source materials with supporting contextual information

• preview lesson plans from the National Center for History in the Schools that align with this course


Video Series
The videos bring history to life by offering a visually compelling introduction to American history content by recounting historical events, and inspiring analysis and discussion. They provide an easy point of entry, even for those who may lack a strong history background. Sixteen, 30-minute video episodes explore a variety of perspectives of American history. Each episode is divided into three segments: Historical Perspectives, which provides an overview of the era; Faces of America, in which biographies of individuals illustrate larger events in the era; and Hands on History, which takes the viewer "behind the scenes," examining how history is studied, documented, and presented.

Six units (Units 1, 5, 11, 12, 17, and 22) do not have accompanying video programs. Unit 1, however, does offer four short contextualized video clips available on DVD and online. This unit covers content related to pre-Columbian America and introduces the historical thinking skills. Units 5, 11, 12, 17, and 22 focus primarily on classroom methods, reviewing the content of the preceding units, and developing new approaches to teaching American history, including best practices when using digital technologies in the classroom.


Web Site and Interactives
The Web site serves as an online archive for all of the text and video materials and contains additional resources that will guide teachers to perform their own deeper historical analyses.

The series uses the full potential of Web-based learning by providing six unique interactives that stimulate analytical thinking and integrate the historical thinking skills needed to understand the complexities of American history.

The six interactives are:

• Placing Artifacts in Time
• Analyzing Artifacts
• Reading Maps
• Evaluating Evidence
• Curating an Exhibit
• Balancing Sources

For example, in the Curating an Exhibit interactive, users will have the opportunity to examine primary sources—such as letters, speeches, political cartoons, paintings, and song lyrics—to create a new museum exhibit. Or, with the interactive Evaluating Evidence, users will be guided through the process of evaluating historical evidence using primary sources to support a thesis on the causes of the Civil War.

The Web site also contains a searchable resource archive of downloadable primary source materials, a table that correlates units to individual state history standards, and a dynamic timeline of key events and figures. Each unit page also includes links to related articles in the Organization of American Historians’ Magazine of History and to curriculum units published by the National Center for History in the Schools.

Through Web access, users can also view streaming video of the series, and download the textbook chapters at www.learner.org.

Facilitator Guide
A course guide (see Support Materials) for each unit provides hands-on activities for workshops, strengthening teachers’ understanding of the content. Activities include discussion questions; problem-based learning activities; and opportunities for analyzing primary source materials, maps, and other data. The activities are designed to be used between each of the video segments and to draw from content in the unit’s text chapter and the video.

Each unit includes notes on how to facilitate the session, tips for prepping and leading the session, additional discussion questions for assisting workshop activities, and additional information on the Web content and text materials that may be helpful during the session.

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Unit Descriptions

Unit 1. Pre-Columbian America
This six-hour workshop focuses first on the Historical Thinking Skills developed by the National Center for History in the Schools. The second portion of the session introduces Pre-Columbian societies in North America. (Facilitator guide and short, contextual video clips)

Unit 2. Mapping Initial Encounters
Columbus’s arrival launched an era of initial encounters between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans that continued for nearly 300 years. This unit examines how these contacts began the phenomenon now known as the Columbian Exchange, profoundly altering the way of life of peoples around the globe. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed:
R. David Edmunds; Elliott Young ; David J. Silverman; Diana Mallickan; and Jessica B. Harris.

Unit 3. Colonial Designs
As encounter changed to settlement, relations between Native Americans and European colonial powers became more complex. This unit charts the changing interactions between competing European powers and Native Americans, and the increasing reliance on the race-based enslavement of Africans. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: R. David Edmunds; David J. Silverman; Taunya Banks; James O. Horton; Elliott Young; and James E. Bruseth.

Unit 4. Revolutionary Perspectives
In the eighteenth century, Enlightenment-based ideas of freedom and equality swept through the British colonies. This unit traces the effects of those ideas and the impact on diverse groups such as British Loyalists, Revolutionary leaders, Native Americans, yeoman farmers, and enslaved blacks. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Sylvia R. Frey; Ralph F. Archbold; James O. Horton; R. David Edmunds; and Carol Berkin.

Unit 5. Classroom Applications 1
This unit steps out of historical content to focus on the pedagogy of assessment techniques, revisiting the Historical Thinking Skills introduced in Unit 1. Beginning with self-assessment of previous unit activities, teachers will develop a student assignment based on content learned to date. (Facilitator guide only)

Unit 6. The New Nation
Following the War of Independence, Americans disagreed—often passionately—about the form and function of the Federal government. This unit explores how those conflicts played out as the new Republic defined its identity in relation to other nations. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Sylvia R. Frey; Reverend Dr. Jeffrey N. Leath; R. David Edmunds; Linda Kerber ; and David Bjelajac.

Unit 7. Contested Territories
The United States acquired vast territories between the time of the Revolution and the Civil War, paying a price economically, socially, and politically. This unit examines the forces that drove such rapid expansion, the settlers moving into these regions, and the impact on the Native Americans already there. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Elliott Young; Robert Tracy McKenzie ; R. David Edmunds; Theresa Salazar ; Shawn Wong; and Eric Blind.

Unit 8. Antebellum Reform
As a response to increasing social ills, the nineteenth century generated reform movements: temperance, abolition, school and prison reform, as well as others. This unit traces the emergence of reform movements instigated by the Second Great Awakening and the impact these movements had on American culture. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Robert Tracy McKenzie; Stephanie M. H. Camp; Marybeth Clark; Linda Kerber; Laura Soullière Gates; Eric Ford; and Peggy Scherbaum.

Unit 9. A Nation Divided
Although the Civil War is viewed today through the lens of the Union’s ultimate victory, for much of the war that victory was far from certain. By examining the lives of the common soldier, as well as civilians on the home front, this workshop examines the uncertainty and horrible destruction in the war between the states (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Benny White; Robert Tracy McKenzie; Stephanie M. H. Camp; and Colonel Keith Gibson.

Unit 10. Reconstructing A Nation
Emancipation was only the beginning of a long road to freedom for those released from slavery. Following the Civil War, an immense economic and political effort was undertaken, focused on reunifying the divided nation. This unit examines the successes and failures of Reconstruction. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Robert Tracy McKenzie; Stephanie M. H. Camp; Robert Melbo; and Russell Kracke.

Unit 11. Classroom Applications 2
This capstone session provides an opportunity for teachers to generate student assignments for use in their classrooms. Building on techniques learned in Unit 5 for teaching Historical Thinking Skills, it also reviews content from the final two interactives and Units 6 through 10. (Facilitator guide only)

Unit 12. Using Digital Technologies
This workshop introduces procedures to develop or improve Internet research skills, as well as related copyright laws, so teachers can effectively use and teach with historical primary sources. The unit also demonstrates strategies for finding and using a wide variety of high-quality Web sites, videos, DVDs, and historical documents. It includes templates for classroom lesson plans developed by the National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS). (Facilitator guide only)

Unit 13. Taming the American West
In post-Reconstruction America, western settlers’ assumptions of an endless, bountiful frontier were tested when they moved to the Great Plains and attempted to cultivate the unfamiliar, arid landscape. This experience led to the rise of Populist politics, which championed farmers’ and industrial workers’ critique of political and economic powers. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Peter Hales; Rebecca Edwards; James Riding In; Doug Monroy, Sam Fuhlendorf.

Unit 14. Industrializing America
From factories in San Francisco to sweatshops in New York, productivity flourished—fed by waves of immigrants from Asia and Europe. This unit explores how growing urbanism contributed to changing social norms, from the working classes to the elite. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Elisabeth Perry; Robert McElvaine; Ron Takaki; Rayvon Fouche.

Unit 15. The Progressives
Overburdened cities led Progressives to agitate for reforms on political, economic, and social fronts. While most Americans agreed that government intervention was needed to address large-scale problems such as child labor or food contamination, there was little agreement on a proper solution. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Danny Walkowitz; Linda Gordon; Nikki Brown; Rima Lunin Schultz; Annamarie Von Firley.

Unit 16. A Growing Global Power
Fueled by patriotism, capitalism, and religion, the U.S. extended its reach beyond national borders. New partnerships between government and big business drove an evolving diplomacy that would set the tone for American foreign policy in the twentieth century. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Danny Walkowitz; Amy Stillman; Doug Monroy; Ronald Baraff; David Cope.

Unit 17. Classroom Applications 3
The thematic strands and historical eras from Units 13, 14, 15, and 16 are re-examined. This unit helps teachers develop a series of lesson plans that use primary sources and historical thinking skills, covering the content learned in previous units. Exemplary lesson plans from the National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) are used as touchstone models. (Facilitator guide only)

Unit 18. By the People, For the People
Plummeting agricultural exports, the stock market crash, and environmental disaster all led to an unprecedented economic depression. Subsequently, a new relationship between individuals and the government arose, with a strong communitarian spirit drawing the nation together before World War II. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Robert McElvaine; Catherine McNicol Stock; Kevin Gaines; Bob DeFlores; Colonel John Antal.

Unit 19. Postwar Tension and Triumph
This unit examines the tensions of the Cold War era, reflected in divergent dichotomies: a growing suburban, white, middle class and increasingly ghettoized blacks and Latinos; a faith in scientific progress contrasted with a fear of the bomb; and an idealization of individualism tempered by an anti-Communist call for conformity. Individuals and groups raised their expectations for equality as veterans returned from the global conflict of World War II. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Elaine Tyler May; Bruce Lee; Tim Borstelmann; James Riding In; Bruce Meyer; Alex Xydias.

Unit 20. Egalitarian America
Brown v. Board of Education was one of the significant results of Americans demanding political, social, and economic equality. This call for parity in all walks of life was symptomatic of a growing social and political liberalism, which was fueled by the growing presence of mass media. (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Robert McElvaine; Doug Monroy; Kevin Gaines; Fannie Lou Hamer; Letty Pogrebin; Donovan Sprague.

Unit 21. Global America
As the turn of the century approached, the pendulum of American politics and social structures began to swing back toward conservatism. With immigration from Asia and the Americas on the rise, the face of America changed rapidly. This unit examines the competing forces of ethnic and American identity in a world dominated by globalization and one remaining "superpower." (Facilitator guide, video, and text chapter)
Experts Interviewed: Tim Borstelmann; Linda Gordon; Shelby Steele; Shareda Hosein; Tulio Serrano; Theodore Schurr

Unit 22. Classroom Applications 4
The thematic strands and historical eras from Units 18, 19, 20, and 21 are re-examined Participants develop lesson plans using primary sources, historical thinking skills, and content learned in previous units. The emphasis of this unit is on the use of digital primary sources, writing biographical accounts, and planning for student-written biographies. (Facilitator guide only)

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