High School Social Studies Textbook & Curriculum

Establishing an American Republic 1492 – 1896

1. What Is History?
Essential Question: What is history, and why should we study it?

In an Experiential Exercise, students witness a staged event that they then reconstruct to help them understand the challenges historians face in interpreting and communicating information about the past.

2. Defining and Debating America’s Founding Ideals
Essential Question: What are America’s founding ideals, and why are they important?

In a Writing for Understanding activity, students examine placards that contain images and quotations spanning American history to discover the influence of the five founding ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

3. Setting the Geographic Stage
Essential Question: How has geography influenced the development of the United States?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students label features on thematic maps to determine how geography has shaped U.S. history.

4. The Colonial Roots of America’s Founding Ideals
Essential Question: How did the colonial period help to shape America’s five founding ideals?

In a Response Group activity, students explore three provocative questions during a discussion about the effects of the colonial period on American’s five founding ideals.

5. Americans Revolt
Essential Question: Were the American colonists justified in rebelling against British rule?

In an Experiential Exercise, students use primary sources and assume the perspectives of four groups affected by colonial rebellion—King George III and Parliament, Patriots, Moderates, and Loyalists—to debate the independence movement.

6. Creating the Constitution
Essential Question: What is the proper role of a national government?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images of a polling place after the revolution, Shays’ Rebellion, and the signing of the Constitution in 1787. They bring to life the signing ceremony and read how the Constitution was ratified.

7. An Enduring Plan of Government
Essential Question: Does the Constitution support the ideals in the Declaration of Independence?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder and participate in a game in which they analyze the Constitution to learn about its key features.

8. Changes in a Young Nation
Essential Question: Did changes in the young nation open the door to opportunity for all Americans?

In a Response Group activity, students discuss how changes in the early 19thcentury opened or closed the door to opportunity for groups of Americans.

9. A Dividing Nation
Essential Question: Was the Civil War inevitable?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students analyze a selection of primary source documents related to events from 1850 to 1861 and decide whether those sources show a spirit of compromise or of conflict.

10. The Civil War
Essential Question: How did the Civil War affect the United States and its people?

In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students create interactive dramatizations to show how the Civil War affected Americans on both sides of the conflict.

11. Reconstruction
Essential Question: How was the nation’s commitment to its founding ideals tested during Reconstruction?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students interpret four political cartoons to understand the issues and events of the Reconstruction period.

Industrialism and Reform 1840 – 1920

12. Change and Conflict in the American West
Essential Question: What opportunities and conflicts emerged as Americans moved westward?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to analyze primary sources that illustrate how the opening of the West affected various group of people and determine the positive and negative effects it had on each group.

13. The Age of Innovation and Industry
Essential Question: Was the rise of industry good for the United States?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students graph data and analyze images about industrialism.

14. Labor’s Response to Industrialism
Essential Question: Was the rise of industry good for American workers?

In an Experiential Exercise, students play a game that simulates the choices involved in the decision to form or join a labor union and then compare their experience to history.

15. Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience
Essential Question: What was it like to be an immigrant to the United States?

In an Experiential Exercise, students discover what it might have been like to be a European immigrant passing through Ellis Island at the turn of the century.

16. Uncovering Problems at the Turn of the Century
Essential Question: What social, political, and environmental problems did Americans face at the turn of the 20th century?

In a Writing for Understanding activity, students act as muckrakers to conduct field investigations using primary sources and write newspaper reports exposing problems in American society in the early 20th century.

17. The Progressives Respond
Essential Question: Who were the Progressives, and how did they address the problems they saw?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students examine historical images to evaluate the actions taken by progressives to address problems of the early 1900s.

18. Progressivism on the National Stage
Essential Question: How well did presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson promote progressive goals in national policies?

In a Response Group activity, students take on the roles of Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson to debate who deserves the most credit for promoting progressive goals.

Expanding American Global Influence 1796 – 1921

19. Foreign Policy: Setting a Course of Expansionism
Essential Question: Was American foreign policy during the 1800s motivated more by realism or idealism?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to examine primary sources to analyze Americans’ views on overseas expansion at the turn of the 19th century.

20. The Spanish-American War
Essential Question: Why did the United States go to war against Spain in 1898, and why was the outcome significant?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students examine images of events leading up to and during the Spanish-American War and discuss how each event is related to the war or its aftermath.

21. Acquiring and Managing Global Power
Essential Question: Were U.S. interventions abroad between 1890 and 1917 motivated more by realism or idealism?

In a Writing for Understanding activity, pairs write, illustrate, and explain metaphor for U.S. foreign policy, one from the perspective of a location the United States became involved in and one from the U.S. perspective.

22. From Neutrality to War
Essential Question: Was it in the national interest of the United States to stay neutral or declare war in 1917?

In a Response Group activity, groups discuss the reasons for and against the entry of the United States into war and then face off in a debate.

23. The Course and Conduct of World War I
Essential Question: How was World War I different from previous wars?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students predict and confirm how new military technologies changed the experience of war for combatants.

24. The Home Front
Essential Question: How did Americans on the home front support or oppose World War I?

In an Experiential Exercise, groups participate in interviews to share the perspective of different groups of Americans living on the home front.

25. The Treaty of Versailles: To Ratify or Reject?
Essential Question: Should the United States have ratified or rejected the Treaty of Versailles?

In a Writing for Understanding activity, students take on the roles of internationalists and irreconcilables to prepare for writing a five-paragraph essay.

The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression 1914 – 1944

26. Understanding Postwar Tensions
Essential Question: What effects did postwar tensions have on America’s founding ideals?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students identify postwar tensions in various images and then bring to life a clemency hearing for Sacco and Vanzetti.

27. The Politics of Normalcy
Essential Question: Did the Republican Era of the 1920s bring peace and prosperity to all Americans?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to analyze political cartoons from the Republican Era and identify each cartoonist’s point of view.

28. Popular Culture in the Roaring Twenties
Essential Question: What social trends and innovations shaped popular culture during the 1920s?

In an Experiential Exercise, students enact a Roaring Twenties party in which they dance the Charleston, learn about celebrities of the time, and record notes about individual achievements and popular culture trends of the 1920s.

29. The Clash Between Traditionalism and Modernism
Essential Question: How did social, economic, and religious tensions divide Americans during the Roaring Twenties?

In a Response Group activity, students discuss and debate important social issues from the 1920s.

30. The Causes of the Great Depression
Essential Question: What caused the most severe economic crisis in American history?

Students play the Yee Haw! game, an Experiential Exercise that simulates the rise and fall of the stock market in the mid- to late 1920s.

31. The Response to the Economic Collapse
Essential Question: How did the federal government respond to the economic collapse that began in 1929?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students classify statements as representing the ideologies of conservatives, liberals, or radicals.

32. The Human Impact of the Great Depression
Essential Question: How did the federal government respond to the economic collapse that began in 1929?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students classify statements as representing the ideologies of conservatives, liberals, or radicals.

33. The New Deal and Its Legacy
Essential Question: How did the expansion of government during the New Deal affect the nation?

In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, groups create mural panels to show how the expansion of government during the New Deal affected Americans.

World War II and the Cold War 1917 – 1960

34. Origins of World War II
Essential Question: Could World War II have been prevented?

In an Experiential Exercise, pairs play a game of negotiation and lean about the concepts of aggression and appeasement.

35. The Impact of World War II on Americans
Essential Question: What kinds of opportunities and hardships did the war create for Americans at home and abroad?

In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students create wartime newsreels to portray the opportunities and hardships experienced by different groups of Americans.

36. Fighting World War II
Essential Question: What military strategies did the United States and its allies pursue to defeat the Axis powers in World War II?

In a Response Group activity, students take on the roles of military analysts and make recommendations for how to defeat Axis powers.

37. The Aftermath of World War II
Essential Question: Did the United States learn from past mistakes at the end of World War II?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images from the end of World War II and compare them with actions after World War I.

38. Origins of the Cold War
Essential Question: How did the United States and the Soviet Union become Cold War adversaries?

In a Response Group activity, students take on the role of foreign policy advisers and discuss possible responses to three postwar foreign policy challenges facing the United States. They then learn about actions taken to address those challenges and what role the Soviet Union played in those responses.

39. The Cold War Expands
Essential Question: Essential Question: Were the methods used by the United States to contain communism justified?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students play the role of CIA agents, gathering information about Cold War situations around the world. They are briefed about events in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and about effects of the arms race around the globe, and annotate maps with major events in each region.

40. Fighting the Cold War at Home
Essential Question: How did the anxieties raised by the Cold War affect life in the United States?

In two Experiential Exercises, students experience the anxiety present in the United States during the early Cold War. Students play a game to help them understand anticommunist hysteria and then learn what to do in case of a nuclear explosion.

The Search for a Better Life 1945 – 1990

41. The Fifties: Peace, Prosperity, and Progress
Essential Question: Why are the 1950s remembered as an age of affluence?

In an Experiential Exercise, students attend a neighborhood block party, where they mingle with other new neighbors in a 1950s suburb, exchange news about current events, and annotate images relating to these various topics.

42. Two Americas
Essential Question: Why did poverty persist in the United States in an age of affluence?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to examine a series of choropleth maps that reveal factors correlating to poverty during the postwar era.

43. Segregation in the Post-World War II Period
Essential Question: How did segregation affect American life in the postwar period?

In an Experiential Exercise, students feel the sting of discrimination as they take a test during which they are segregated into two groups that are treated very differently.

44. The Civil Rights Revolution: “Like a Mighty Stream”
Essential Question: How did civil rights activists advance the ideals of liberty, equality, and opportunity for African Americans?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze primary source photographs and songs highlighting six important events of the civil rights movement.

45. Redefining Equality: From Black Power to Affirmative Action
Essential Question: How did civil rights activists change their strategies and goals in the 1960s and 1970s, and how successful were they in achieving racial equality?

In a Response Group activity, students analyze statistical data to discuss the degree to which racial equality has been achieved in the United States.

46. The Widening Struggle
Essential Question: Why and how did the civil rights movement expand?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students examine primary and secondary sources from diverse groups who fought for civil rights and place the groups along a spectrum of progress.

Tumultuous Times 1954 – 1980

47. The Age of Camelot
Essential Question: Was John F. Kennedy a great president?

In a Writing for Understanding activity, groups analyze primary and secondary sources to evaluate Kennedy’s success as a president and prepare for writing a five-paragraph essay.

48. The Great Society
Essential Question: What is the proper role of government in shaping American society?

In a Response Group activity, students evaluate the proper role of government in a series of three discussions.

49. The Emergence of a Counterculture Video
Essential Question: What was the impact of the counterculture on American society?

In an Experiential Exercise, students assume the roles of counterculture youth and mainstream Americans and participate in a dialogue.

50. The United States Gets Involved in Vietnam
Essential Question: Why did the United States increase its military involvement in Vietnam?

In a Response Group activity, students participate in a national security meeting to advise President Johnson on whether to increase military involvement in Vietnam.

51. Facing Frustration in Vietnam
Essential Question: What made the Vietnam War difficult to win?

In an Experiential Exercise, students are introduced to some of the frustration of fighting in Vietnam by playing a game of tug-of-war with constantly changing rules. They then make comparisons between their experience in the activity and the historical events and conditions of the war.

52. Getting Out of Vietnam
Essential Question: What lessons for Americans emerged from the Vietnam War?

In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze photographs of Vietnam War events and discuss the memories the images evoked in people who lived through the war.

53. The Rise and Fall of Richard Nixon
Essential Question: What events influenced Richard Nixon’s rise to and fall from power?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, pairs construct a graph of Nixon’s presidential approval ratings by matching events to ratings.

54. Politics and Society in the “Me” Decade
Essential Question: How should historians characterize the 1970s? 

n a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, groups create time capsules with artifacts, visuals, and documents that reflect politics and society in the 1970s.

The Making of Modern America 1980 – Present

55. A Shift to the Right Under Reagan
Essential Question: Essential Question: How did the Reagan Revolution impact the nation?

In an Experiential Exercise, students assume the roles of liberal and conservative guests on a political news show and debate the merits of the Reagan Revolution.

56. Ending the Cold War
Essential Question: What were the effects of President Reagan’s foreign policy actions?

Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to analyze political cartoons that comment on Reagan’s foreign policy actions and apply what they learn to answer the Essential Question.

57. U.S. Domestic Politics at the Turn of the 21st Century
Essential Question: To what extent did Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama fulfill their domestic policy goals?

In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, groups create Janus figures evaluating to what extent George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush fulfilled their domestic policy goals.

58. U.S. Foreign Policy in a Global Age
Essential Question: How well have U.S. foreign policy decisions met the challenges of the global age?

In a Response Group activity, students assess and debate U.S. foreign policy choices made during the post-Cold War era.

59. 9/11 and Its Aftermath: Debating America’s Founding Ideals
Essential Question: What debates have arisen since 9/11 about how to balance security while preserving American ideals?

In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students examine primary and secondary sources and discuss the challenges the nation faced in preserving America’s founding ideals after 9/11.

Source Article