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U.S. History Curriculum to go with BREATHE

​Welcome homeschoolers, teachers, and history buffs! Last week's blog was all about the science behind the Spanish Flu. This week, it's all about the history surrounding it. I did a ton of research before and during the writing of BREATHE so that I could understand this complex period in U.S. history. Pamela Simon, history teacher extraordinaire, was one of my beta readers for BREATHE and specifically helped me tighten up the Jewish element in the book.

I asked Ms. Simon if she would create a lesson plan to go along with BREATHE. If you are studying World War I and/or the Women's Suffrage movement (remember, that in 1918 the 19th Amendment hadn't passed yet), here are some great resources and guidelines to help you get your head wrapped around this complex time in history. These are resources that Ms. Simon uses in her high school classroom here in Phoenix. Some of the materials and resources would also be appropriate for younger students, if you are homeschooling children of different ages levels.


P.S. Did you miss last week's health and science curriculum ideas and resources for BREATHE? You can go HERE to find them.

U.S. History Curriculum

  • Do these fulfill standards? YES

  • Social Studies standards vary state by state, but these activities cover the following:

  • Progressivism

  • America’s involvement in World War I

  • Voting Rights

  • Westward Expansion

  • State-specific history (western states only)

  • Common Core standards for speaking and listening, reading, writing, and language. The activities in these lessons all use at least one of these activities, and usually fulfill a combination of them.

  • Educators can select at which level they would like their students performing, to determine which standards are being fulfilled.

World War I

  • Connections to today

  • Why do we go to war?

  • Library of Congress: World War I: What are we fighting for over there? http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/lessons/great-war/index.html

  • A great exploration of the Library of Congress, which could serve as a foundation for using this as a resource for future lessons.

  • The info says this is a 4-week lesson, which seems unreasonably long to me. This could be a great set to use to pick and choose.

  • Grades 6-8 & 9-12

  • Students use a variety of primary sources to analyze America’s involvement in World War I, including news articles, speeches (audio provided), and photographs

  • National Endowment for the Arts http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/60045.htm

  • This site actually has a bevy of amazing-looking lesson plans. Educators can select from history or the arts, and there are both individual lesson plans and lesson collections available.

  • There are also fantastic materials provided for educators who want to explore primary documents, but maybe not adhere to a specific lesson plan.

  • Stanford History Education Group https://sheg.stanford.edu/history-lessons/us-entry-wwi

  • This is a fully-structured lesson plan with the following description:

  • In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared that neutrality in the Great War was "no longer feasible" and that the U.S. had to intervene to make the world "safe for democracy." What changed between 1914 and 1917 that caused the U.S. to enter WWI? In this lesson, students address this question as they corroborate a textbook account with two documents: a speech by President Wilson and an excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

  • An account is required to access the material, but it’s free.

  • SHEG is a great organization that provides support for history education.

  • DocsTeach (National Archives/National Archives Foundation) https://www.docsteach.org/activities/teacher/americans-on-the-homefront-helped-win-world-war-i

  • This is a really cool activity that uses lots of primary documents to learn about the American homefront during WWI.

Women’s Suffrage

  • Connection to today

  • Voting Rights Act

  • Violence Against Women Act

  • #MeToo Movement

  • Do we need an ERA?

  • Teaching Tolerance: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/womens-suffrage

  • This is a great activity for smaller groups, but there really needs to be at least three kids participating.

  • All required materials are enclosed, and suggested materials are really useful, but not provided.

  • Questions to consider:

  • Why were some women against women’s suffrage?

  • What additional changes would occur from women gaining suffrage? (effects on laws, meetings, rules, standards, etc)

  • The Constitution leaves elections to the states. Why did the federal government need to step in?

  • Was a Constitutional Amendment the best option to give suffrage to women? Why or why not?

  • This page suggests watching Iron Jawed Angels, which is one of my favorite movies, but I’d say not appropriate for younger than high school.

  • NEH Edsitement!: Women’s Suffrage Series

  • Voting Rights for Women: Pro-and Anti-Suffrage https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/voting-rights-women-pro-and-anti-suffrage

  • Great plan with a variety of primary source media.

  • Focuses on amendments and the gradual enfranchisement of Americans.

  • Good for one or two students with group activities that can be set up as centers or stations instead.

  • Voting Rights for Women: Why the West First? https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/womens-suffrage-why-west-first

  • Another great plan with tons of primary source media

  • Uses online archives to explore why women in the west were granted the right to vote prior to women back east.

  • This one is a little harder to do with only a few kids, but that part can be adjusted as needed.

  • The last activity is to take all of the provided information and come up with a unified theory as to why the west granted suffrage first, which is a great tie-in to science and the battle against the flu.

  • I’m not including them here, but there are two additional lessons linked from the Pro- and Anti-Suffrage lesson that can be used for a more general women’s equality topic.

  • Women’s Suffrage in the United States from Teach a Girl to Lead: a Project of the Center for American Women and Politics http://tag.rutgers.edu/teaching-toolbox/classroom-resources/lesson-module-womens-suffrage-in-the-united-states/

  • Includes great materials and guiding questions for all grade levels

  • Activities included for K-5 and 6-8, not for 9-12

  • For 9-12, the educator can take one or two of the discussion questions provided and have their student use three or four of the materials to answer that question. An educator has everything they need to put together a Document Based Question (DBQ) or web quest on this topic.

  • Some of the middle school activities can be adjusted for high school, too.

  • I’m not as big a fan of this resource as I am the others, only because the others provide more structured lesson plans. This is great for someone who knows they want to cover a topic, but wants the freedom to do whatever they want with the resources.

So there you go. Whether you are looking for primary documents to aid in your own research or looking for engaging ways to make history relevant for your students, I hope you will check Ms. Simon's resources out. If you are interested in seeing how all this connects into BREATHE, you can buy the paperback HERE and the eBook HERE. As always, if you find this post helpful or have other resource suggestions for me, please send me a note or tag me on social media (links above).

#1918 #history #teachers #behindthescenes #FridayReads #homeschoolers #factbehindthefiction #inspiration #historicalfiction