We the Teachers

Liberty Fund: Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA

14 teachers from across the country gathered in Simi Valley, California, from 15-17 February 2019 to study the papers, ideas, and legacy of President Ronald Reagan. Coming from as far as Connecticut, these teachers engaged in six 90-minute discussion sessions in an effort to study Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy and public life, through a collection of his most notable speeches and some biographical material. Discussion Leader for the weekend was Dr. Stephen Knott of the United States Naval War College, a noted Reagan scholar. The weekend was punctuated by a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, where attendees experienced Reagan’s 707 Air Force One, interacted with artifacts, videos, and images from his presidency, and learned about the ‘Great Communicator’ and the tumultuous times during which he was active in politics.

U.S. History Lesson Plans on World War II

Today’s typical high school student has likely encountered a handful of books or movies
that explore aspects of World War II, from the Holocaust to D-Day to Japanese
American internment camps. While these media can enhance a student’s intellectual
and emotional understanding of the events, they don’t always provide a full picture of
World War II–its complex causes, effects, and legacy that continues to shape the United
States today. How can a U.S. History teacher invite students into the drama of World
War II and help them make these critical connections?

Core Documents Collection
The collection of documents on World War II explores the American shift from neutrality
to declaration of war after the Pearl Harbor attacks. The documents go on to examine
military and political strategies along with the war’s impact on women, African
Americans, and Japanese Americans at home. Finally, they delve into the aftermath of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ushered in the nuclear age.

The World War II Core Document volume contains the following:
● Key documents on the period, from the Neutrality Act of 1935 to Roosevelt’s
Fireside Chats and speeches, Truman’s press release alerting the nation about
the atomic bomb, letters and diaries from soldiers, and reports from the
Nuremberg Trials
● An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
● A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various
documents
● Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other
documents in the collection
● Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to
improve understanding of the document’s historical context

You can use some or all of the Core Documents, tailoring them to your curriculum,
schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document
rather than a textbook, you will start to see your students making connections that bring
the issues surrounding World War II to life.

Accessing the World War II Core Documents is easy. Just click on the link below and
find everything you need to bring the World War II Era into your classroom today!

Access the World War II Core Documents

SYNOPSIS: The World War II volume of Core Documents Collections is designed to
help teachers bring to life for students the causes, effects, and legacy of the war. Check
out this unique resource, provided by Teaching American History.

When ‘I Have a Dream’ Is Your Textbook: How Teaching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Actual Speech Changes the Way Your Students Learn

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” The opening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech reminds us that these words grew out of a major event, not a textbook. It is August of 1963, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are crowded before the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Near the end of the day, Dr. King addresses the hot, tired, but invigorated crowd with some of the most resonant words in our nation’s history. Shouldn’t the words themselves receive the greatest attention?

Digging Deeper

While virtually all U.S. history curricula cover Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments, they often give no more than a glance to the speeches themselves. Most students learn that “I Have a Dream” is one of the most famous speeches in history. But what do they learn about the speech itself? What can they recite aside from the title’s refrain, the ending reference to the Negro spiritual, or perhaps “they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?

As important as these lines are, they represent just a fraction of the orator’s richness of thought. By digging into his words, rather than a textbook summary of his ideas, students can appreciate King’s rhetorical strategies:

  • Different modes of persuasion (ethos, pathos, and logos)
  • Figurative language
  • Historical and religious allusions
  • Sentence structure and punctuation
  • Diction
  • Tone

Practicing What King Preached

Because Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher who believed in the power of the written and spoken word, communicating was not just a means to an end. The words themselves were art and truth, meant to inspire just as much as his actions. As students will learn by studying his speech, King refers to numerous other speeches, songs, religious texts, and political documents, understanding the weight and influence of these original sources.

Without studying the entirety of King’s speech, students miss on his truly indelible mark on America’s Civil Rights movement and intellectual history. Bring Martin Luther King Jr. to life in your classroom this year by living among his very words.

Access “I Have a Dream,” lesson plans, and other core documents today at TAH.org.

 

Teaching the Civil War and Reconstruction

The country was divided. A “nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” was struggling to define that equality in light of slavery and calls for emancipation. Questions stalked the minds of political leaders and citizens alike: What was the nature of the federal union and Constitution in relation to state sovereignty? How would the war progress and end, and how would the nation rebuild? As a teacher of American History, you know there is nothing remotely boring about the Civil War and Reconstruction.

But for students in the 21st century, the era conjures up images of muskets and southern belles–if any images at all–making it difficult for them to connect with the real human emotions and events experienced during the time. The Teaching American History Civil War and Reconstruction Toolkit, centered on original documents, is designed to bring you and your classroom face to face with the realities:

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the Civil War to life.

Accessing the Civil War & Reconstruction Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the drama, voices, and complexities of the Civil War into your classroom today!  

Access the Civil War & Reconstruction Toolkit

SYNOPSIS: Add original documents, letters, and dynamic lesson plans into your high school American history Civil War era curriculum.

Teaching the American Founding and the Constitutional Convention

Over the course of 100 days in 1787, American history would be made in a boisterous and sweltering Independence Hall. While the 55 delegates who showed up thought they were “just” going to revise the Articles of the Confederation, they ended up delving into so much more, eventually arguing for, and writing a final draft of, the U.S. Constitution.

These are the basics, of course, but they can seem so far removed from your students’ daily lives. In order to help them understand the intellectual and political depths of that historic summer, you need to help them see, hear, and feel the lively drama of the Founding of the United States. By exploring the core documents of that time, you can bring the Convention to life.

The TAH American Founding and Constitutional Convention Core Document Volume and Toolkit is designed to bring you and your classroom into Independence Hall alongside the spirited voices of those delegates. Imagine your students experiencing the Convention through these engaging resources:

  • Educational background, Continental experience, economic interests, and personal details of each delegate
  • The Convention organized as a four-act drama to help students understand how the story of the Founding unfolded
  • Correspondence among delegates and family members, linked to specific days throughout the “script”
  • Charts and tables, including an interactive Attendance Record that helps students visualize daily events and delegate attendance throughout the Convention
  • Menus, entertainment, and other fascinating “non-political” details that bring personality to the historical
  • Interactive maps and artwork
  • Multimedia resources, including videos corresponding with each of the acts.

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections, light bulbs going off as the Convention, in a way, teaches itself.

Accessing the Core Documents and Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring Philadelphia, 1787, into your classroom today!

American Founding & Constitutional Convention Core Document Volume and Toolkit

 

Talking Politics and Religion in the American History Classroom

In today’s national conversation, which lately seems more like a countrywide schoolyard brawl with citizens hurling insults and memes, it can be challenging to explore complex ideas. Politics and religion, especially, can raise hackles of anger where there should be openness and understanding. Many teachers try to steer clear of these “touchy” topics in the interest of keeping the peace. But ignoring and avoiding events that have formed–and continue to shape–our country’s history only postpones the inevitable debate. We need a way to discuss our history without rancor.

The American History classroom, rather, should be an engaging and robust place to explore these ideas. And when teachers introduce primary sources into the conversation, the dynamic changes dramatically.

When structuring conversations around primary documents, teachers allow students to use their critical thinking skills to draw their own conclusions. While contemporary opinion pieces, satire, and viral social media phenomena can teach us a lot about our culture, foundational historical documents lead us to the roots of our national identity and should be at the core of any student’s education about religion and politics in the United States.

Imagine the impact these primary sources, unfiltered by social media and news outlets, can have on today’s students:

  • Sermons, poetry, and artwork that chronicle the diverse religious experiences of immigrants and religious liberty.
  • Excerpts of colonial law that grapple with the relationship between religious establishment and toleration.
  • Excerpts of founding documents that set the stage for the American political experience with religion.
  • Court cases that document the revolutionary, and often tenuous, separation of church and state.
  • Documents, addresses, and sermons that address the political-religious relationship with morals, evolution, communism, fundamentalism, liberalism, philosophy, education, and the Bible.

By studying primary documents, students will learn that while the United States was founded on the separation of church and state, politics and religion have been closely intertwined. They will also learn that it is not just acceptable to discuss religion and politics in the classroom but appropriate and timely, given our history.

As an instructor, you may feel somewhat ill at ease with addressing these documents, but TeachingAmericanHistory.org offers plenty of support so that you can feel empowered to provide your students with the resources they need to develop informed opinions and grow into thoughtful, engaged citizens.

Register for our Religious Freedom Seminar in July to immerse yourself in this subject or download the 25 Core Documents in American History and Politics for adaptation in your classroom. You can also find more resources on Politics and Religion in America at https://religioninamerica.org/.

SYNOPSIS: Using primary documents in your American History classroom lesson plans can help you break through the buzz of fake news and introduce challenging conversations at the heart of politics and religion.

Fourth Volume of Core Documents Collections – World War II Now Available!

The fourth volume of the American History and Government Core Documents Collections – World War II – is now available!

Get your copy on iTunesKindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each – email dmitchell@tah.org if you would like a copy, or you can buy it on Amazon!

Sign up for early access to each upcoming volume!

This volume begins its story – focused on the experience of the war in America, but not neglecting the experience of Americans who fought – in 1935, as Americans expressed their wariness of involvement in another European war by passing a neutrality act. It recounts the debate over neutrality as conflict approached and then overwhelmed Europe. All such debate ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, but new issues arose as the war churned on, including internment of Japanese Americans; the treatment of African-Americans in the United States and in its Armed Forces; the role of women in the war effort and how this might change their lives after the war; and the principles that should shape the post-war world. These issues and the two events with which the collection ends – the Nuremberg trials and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – foreshadow the world the war helped bring about.

As in the other volumes, each Core Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story. We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

Please contact Daniel Mitchell if you have any questions or would like more information about using the Core Documents Curriculum in your classroom.

Thank you for all that you do!

Core American Documents – Sign Up for Early Access to New Volumes!

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is excited to share another resource for American history,  government, civics, and social studies teachers. While you may be familiar with our 50 Core American Documents book, we are launching a new 35-volume document collection.

Each Core American Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

The documents are all about this – the still unfinished American experiment with self-government. In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story. We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

SIGN UP and receive early access to each volume!

Third Volume of Core Documents Collections – The Constitutional Convention OUT NOW!

The third volume of the American History and Government Core Documents Collections – the Constitutional Convention – is now available on iTunes and PDF. Hard copies are also available for $10 each – email dmitchell@tah.org if you would like a copy, or you can purchase it directly from Amazon.

Sign up for early access to each volume!

This collection of documents on the Constitutional Convention is part of our extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. This is the second of four volumes that will cover the Founding of the United States. The American Founding, already published, is the capstone of the four. The others – this collection, and volumes on the ratification of the constitution and the Bill of Rights, which will follow it – tell aspects of the founding story in more detail.

The documents in this collection explain why the constitutional convention was held and illustrate the ideas of government and politics that the delegates carried with them to Philadelphia, ideas wrung from their reading and, more important, from the extensive experience of self-government the colonists had enjoyed. Its pages recount the Convention’s critical debates over the purpose and powers of government, the nature of representation, and the relation between the states and the central government. They recount as well the way that slavery and the interests of the various states shaped those debates. Together, the four volumes on the Founding provide the essentials for understanding the Founding as the Founders understood it.

As in the other volumes, each Core Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story. We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

Please contact Daniel Mitchell if you have any questions or would like more information about using the Core Documents Curriculum in your classroom.

Thank you for all that you do!

Second Volume of Core Documents Collections Now Available – The Great Depression and the New Deal!

Recently, TeachingAmericanHistory.org launched the first volume in the new 35-volume document collection.

The second volume of the American History and Government Core Document Collections – the Great Depression and the New Deal – is now available on iTunes, Kindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each – email dmitchell@tah.org if you would like a copy, or you can purchase it directly from Amazon.

Sign up for early access to each volume!

This collection of documents on the Depression and New Deal is the second volume in an extended series of document collections from the Ashbrook Center that will cover major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. The series began with a collection on the Founding. This volume follows appropriately, because it makes clear the reasons why and the degree to which Franklin Roosevelt intended the New Deal to be a re-founding of the American republic. In presenting the words that Roosevelt spoke, the collection shows us not only his arguments but his masterful rhetoric, which presented the New Deal as only an updating of the Founding. The collection presents as well the arguments of those who opposed the New Deal — Democrats as well as Republicans — and those who thought it did not go far enough. Taken together, the documents in the collection are an enlightening guide to one of the most consequential periods in American history.

As in the American Founding volume, each Core American Document volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – America’s presidents, labor leaders, farmers, philosophers, industrialists, politicians, workers, explorers, religious leaders, judges, soldiers; its slaveholders and abolitionists; its expansionists and isolationists; its reformers and stand-patters; its strict and broad constructionists; its hard-eyed realists and visionary utopians – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story.

We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

Please contact Daniel Mitchell if you have any questions or would like more information about using the Core Documents Curriculum in your classroom.

Thank you for all that you do!

TAH.org Feature Change: Standards Search Tool

For the last few years, TAH.org has incorporated a search tool into our documents library that has enabled teachers to search for documents based on state academic standards, or identify documents related to their standards. With changes to many states’ standards over the time, and the move away from the Common Core ELA standards in many states, we have decided to take a different route to helping teachers meet their standards-based lesson needs, and in so doing will end support for this website function by the end of December, 2017.

In a few months we will roll out a series of new website features and functions that will make the work of finding documents for your lessons easier and more accurate.

In the meantime, take a look at our American History Toolkits, which combine Essential Documents lists with curated website resources on several must-teach topics in American history and government.

Find Free Resources for Your American History Classroom!

If you’re like most teachers, you can’t help but put your students first. In fact, during lean budgetary times, you may even make sacrifices with your wallet. According to AdoptaClassroom.com’s 2015-2016 survey of 1,800 teachers, the average teacher spent $600 of their own money on supplies. When expenditures extend beyond pens and pencils to cover books and resources, that amount can easily go into the thousands. Many new teachers are told that if they want their students to be fully engaged with the curriculum, they’ll be spending personal money (and countless hours).

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Teachers of American History can cut their resource spending by 100% by accessing free resources that also happen to be the best for their students.

The Power of Primary Documents

TeachingAmericanHistory.org believes in the power of our country’s rich heritage of original documents–declarations, speeches, letters, and other materials that tell the complex story of the United States better than any textbook or worksheet. While these public domain works can always be searched and accessed for free, TAH saves you much more time and money by curating the documents for you, writing associated guiding questions, and providing multimedia resources in American History Toolkits that can be taught as self-contained units:

  • The American Founding
  • Expansion & Sectionalism
  • Civil War & Reconstruction
  • The Progressive Era
  • The Great Depression & World War 2
  • Civil Rights

What’s more, you can align your free curriculum to state and Common Core standards by using a simple Standards Search Tool that allows you to search from standard to document or document to standard, ensuring that your resources are not only engaging, but on target for your instructional requirements and goals.

Professional Development That Won’t Break the Bank

Think you have to spend your own money on classes and professional development, too? TAH.org believes in providing American History teachers with free opportunities to learn, grow, and get inspired. We offer seminars to K-12 teachers in public, independent, parochial, and charter schools. These half and full-day events, offered at no cost to the participant, model sound and engaging teaching by using primary documents as the foundation for learning. At the end of the program, you will receive certificate for the hours you spend with us for the day. You also have the option to earn one graduate credit from attending a seminar and creating your lesson plan based on documents and ideas discussed in the program. Provided in partnership with Ashland University, this option costs just $200.

Good teachers don’t have to empty their personal bank accounts in order to engage their students. With TAH resources, you can work smarter, not harder, and spend nothing in the process.

Bill of Rights Anniversary

The Bill of Rights was adopted on 15 December, 1791, and is made up of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. Originally made up of 12 amendments, two of which would be ratified later – one much, much later – the Bill of Rights we think of today was in part a compromise between the earliest political camps in America, as came out of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and refined during the Ratification Debates across the 13 states from 1787 to 1788.

Take a moment and look over Professor Gordon Lloyd’s exhibit on the origins, politics, and ratification of the Bill of Rights, and explore the English and Colonial roots of these most precious rights; the ideas borrowed from existing state constitutions; and examine the lineage of each right within each amendment.

Additionally, TAH.org has the following resources to help you understand, and more effectively teach, about these fundamental rights enjoyed by all Americans.

50 Documents That Tell America’s Story

Required reading for students, teachers, and citizens.

Access Now

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