In this activity, students watch a short clip from the ASHP documentary 1877: The Grand Army of Starvationto learn about the impact of railroad expansion on Americans and the nation as a whole. After watching the clip, students complete the “Technological Turning Points and their Impact” worksheet in order to examine the positive and negative effects of the railroad.
PBS American Experience’s Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Dividedis a 6 episode mini-series available as a 3 DVD set. The following activity focuses on the causes and consequences of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation through an active viewing of Episode 4: The Dearest of All Things(Disc 2). There is a companion website to the series, The Time of the Lincolns, that contains a Teacher’s Guide, primary sources, and episode transcripts.
In this activity, students watch short clips of the PBS/A Bill Moyers Special production ofBecoming American: The Chinese Experience(2003). The documentary clips and accompanying materials cover the arrival of Chinese in California, their work on the transcontinental railroad, the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Angel Island immigration facility. At the end of the activity, students complete a short writing task on whether not to immigrate to the United States from the perspective of a young Chinese man.
In this activity, students watch short clips of the ASHP documentary Daughters of Free Mento learn about the experiences of Lowell mill girls in the 1830s. Students follow the life of Lucy, a young girl working in Lowell in 1836. After each clip, students reflect on what they have just learned and predict what Lucy will do next.
In this activity students analyze the reasons why the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted so long and was successful. Students watch a short clip from the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prizeabout the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Then students analyze primary sources to determine who participated in the boycott, who organized it, and what challenges boycott supporters faced. The teacher will need access to the filmEyes on the Prize, which is widely available in school and public libraries.
In this activity, students watch the documentary Heaven Will Protect the Working Girlin sections, with documents and exercises designed to support and reinforce the film's key concepts: workers challenging the effects of industrial capitalism, the impact on immigrant families of young women earning money in the garment industry, and the methods used by women to improve working conditions in factories during the Progressive Era.
This activity is designed to help students understand key ideas from the documentary film Savage Acts: Wars, Fairs, and Empire 1898-1904. The film is divided into short segments with suggested viewing strategies and questions to keep students focused.
In this activity, students watch film clips from the documentary The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, decode a propaganda poster, and analyze statistics about working women during World War II. Parts of this activity can be completed without the film.
In this activity, students watch the ASHP documentary Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great Warwith documents and exercises designed to support and reinforce the documentary's key concepts of Jim Crow, lynching, sharecropping, migration, and life in northern cities. At the end of the activity, students complete a short writing task on how life changed and how it stayed the same for migrants, and how they tried to improve their lives in the North.
In this activity, students examine three documents to better understand the goals, participants, and leaders of the 1963 March on Washington.
In this lesson students analyze a propaganda poster, a photograph, and a poem to understand the tensions unleashed by the entry of African Americans into the industrial workforce during World War II.
This short activity helps students analyze a political cartoon about U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. To complete the activity, the teacher will need either a map or a globe to show students the relative distance between the United States and Philippines.
In this activity students analyze Kipling's famous poem about imperialism and read several poems that were written in response to it. Students discuss how effective the poems are as art, political commentary, and historical evidence.
In this activity students will learn about how groups without political power—African Americans, women, and working-class men—sought to expand their political power in the Revolutionary era. Students will analyze primary sources to determine the methods by which non-voting groups made their claims on being part of "We the People".
In this activity students read slave codes from colonial New York and respond to them from the perspective of one of four identities: Slave-owning white, Non-slave-owning white, Slave, or Free African American.
In this lesson students read a description of a slave's walk through colonial New York City and determine which laws he broke and which laws he followed. Students then write a journal entry from the perspective of either a slave or a slaveowner reacting to colonial New York's slave codes.
In this activity students read a list of laws regulating Africans and African Americans and a servant's indenture contract from colonial New York. Then students find evidence in the primary sources to support a series of statements about the differences between slaves and servants in the period. This activity includes scaffolds and vocabulary support for students with literacy challenges.
In this activity, students use a range of primary and secondary sources about San Francisco's Chinatown (1880s-1920) to explore what the community meant to residents and to outsiders.
In this activity students create a "magic lantern show," or presentation that illustrates how African American defined freedom for themselves after emancipation and the challenges and threats they faced. Students use primary sources from the Reconstruction period. This activity can accompany a viewing of the filmDr. Toer's Amazing Magic Lantern Show: A Different View of Emancipation.
In this activity students examine documents from the period of the First Great Migration of African Americans to the North. As they look at the documents, they take notes to build a character of a migrant. Then they create a scrapbook that shows their characters' personal journeys and experiences during the Great Migration. This activity can be part of a unit that includes the film Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War. Students will need art supplies such as construction paper, tape or glue, scissors, and markers to make the scrapbooks.
In this activity students learn about the people and places, and the social rules that governed them, in San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1800s. Students develop a character based on the real people who lived in Chinatown, and then create a walking tour of what life was really like in "their" neighborhood. Students analyze photographs and read short background texts to gather information for their tours.
In this activity students create a political cartoon about one of five key historical understandings of the Philippine-American War. This activity and its materials are Smartboard-friendly but can be completed without a Smartboard. This activity is designed to accompany the film Savage Acts: Wars, Fairs, and Empire 1898-1904, but it can be adapted if the teacher does not have access to the film. To plan their cartoons, students will need scissors and glue or tape.
In this activity students role play a debate among four African-American leaders at the turn of the century, about what strategy the black community should adopt to achieve full equality in the twentieth century. Students research their roles by reading and analyzing primary sources. This activity can work as a follow-up to viewing the film Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War.
In this activity students investigate various perspectives on the debate over the annexation of the Philippines by the United States after the Spanish-American War. Students read a variety of primary sources on the annexation question and the struggle for Philippine independence, debate the relevant issues while in character of proponents of either side, attempt to reach consensus on the issue, and report the outcome to the class.
In this lesson, students will host an abolitionist meeting in the 1850s, after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. Three strategies for ending slavery will be presented, and students will evaluate and debate the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy.
In this activity, students consider arguments for and against unrestricted immigration during the Ellis Island era. Students analyze political cartoons, letters, newspaper articles, posters, and other sources, noting evidence in the documents to support the viewpoints of the various figures in the 1903 cartoon "The Immigrant." This activity also includes modifications for low-level readers.
In this activity students analyze a timeline and official and unofficial documents that reveal the events of the Iran-Contra Affair. This activity also models the types of questions that can help students analyze foreign policy documents from other events. The activity instructions include suggestions for how to differentiate the activity for students with different reading levels.
In this activity students read two letters (one from Hoover, one from FDR) to determine different political beliefs that guided the presidents in their responses to the Great Depression.
This short activity helps students compare two drafts of the Preamble to the United States Constitution. It contains scaffolds for low-level readers.
In this lesson students will examine three documents about the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) to determine the importance of local activists, especially women, in the civil rights movement. This lesson might serve as an introduction to a unit on the civil rights movement.
Diverse literary texts provide opportunities for making connections about race and hearing multiple voices and perspectives. In this activity, students read literature and poetry from different American writers, reflecting on the meaning and experiences of race in the United States. Due to copyright restrictions, we cannot reproduce the texts here, but the instructions below include anthologies and links to online sources where the texts can be printed out.
In this lesson students look at primary source images and read short secondary texts to understand slave life. In the activity, the teacher models and students practice differentiating between different types of text (primary, secondary, etc.) they might encounter in the social studies classroom. Students show their understanding of a passage's central concepts by selecting words and phrases to compose a "found poem" about the main ideas of the text. This lesson was designed for struggling readers and ESL/ELL students.
In this lesson students read poems and letters that describe the work and lives of nineteenth-century Irish immigrants to the United States. As students read the documents, they choose words and phrases to create found poems that reflect their understandings of the Irish-American experience.
In this activity students learn about the goals of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the opportunities it provided for young men. Students create poster presentations about different aspects of the CCC by combining photographs and quotes from primary sources. Students will need poster-making supplies (including poster board or paper, markers, scissors, and glue/markers).
This activity asks students to analyze three primary documents about the experiences of young women who worked in textile factories in New England during the 1830s and 1840s. It provides worksheets to guide and support students in writing a paragraph that cites evidence about the documents.
In this activity students consider different viewpoints on whether former slaves should be given land at the end of the Civil War. Students read one of five primary sources and summarize the author's viewpoint. This activity makes a good introduction to a unit on Reconstruction or to sum up a unit on the Civil War. This activity was designed to help students with language processing challenges synthesize historical documents.
In this activity students read about slavery's effect on women from the perspectives of an enslaved woman and a plantation mistress. Then students create a dialogue between the two women.
In this activity students read letters from ordinary people to government leaders in the Roosevelt Administration. Then they interpret the range of attitudes about the changing role of the federal government during the New Deal. The letters for this activity all contain reading supports and teachers can differentiate this activity for different levels of learners by choosing which letters to use in the activity.
In this activity, students read two primary documents from the early 1800s: a journal entry from the Lewis and Clark expedition and a Lakota Indian "winter count" calendar. Using an analysis worksheet, students identify key ideas and details from the documents, while also examining the craft and structure of each document. They draw upon both the content and form of the documents to make inferences about the respective cultures of Euro-Americans and Native Americans in the early 1800s.
In this activity, students work with quantitative data (charts, graphs, and tables) from the 1910 census and the 1911 Dillingham Commission Report to understand the lives of immigrants in the Ellis Island era. The activity includes an option designed for middle school and high school students, as well as a suggested strategy for elementary students. After studying the data, students write a narrative in the voice of an immigrant in 1910, incorporating the information gleaned.