Publication Date: October 13, 2017
This book offers the tools teachers need to get started with an innovative approach to teaching history, one that develops literacy and higher-order thinking skills, connects the past to students' lives today, and meets Common Core State Standards (grades 7–12).
The author provides over 60 primary sources organized into seven thematic units, each structured around an essential question from U.S. history. As students analyze carefully excerpted documents—speeches by presidents and protesters, Supreme Court cases, political cartoons—they build an understanding of how diverse historical figures have approached key issues. At the same time, students learn to participate in civic debates and develop their own views on what it means to be a 21st-century American. Each unit connects to current events and dynamic classroom activities make history come alive. In addition to the documents themselves, this teaching manual provides strategies to assess student learning; mini-lectures designed to introduce documents; activities to help students process, display, and integrate their learning; guidance to help teachers create their own units; and more.
Rosalie Metro is an assistant teaching professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught U.S. and world history at the middle and high school levels.
"This is an indispensable guide for any teacher looking to bring serious intellectual engagement to the history classroom."
—Sam Wineburg, Stanford University
"Written from a practitioner’s perspective, Rosalie Metro provides a wealth of suggestions for structuring a year-long U.S. history course based on themes rather than solely on the timeline. Full of thought-provoking essential questions, engaging primary source documents, and an impressive array of classroom activities, Teaching U.S. History Thematically is the must-have resource for history teachers looking to stay relevant in our modern learning landscape."
—Diana Laufenberg, lead teacher and executive director, Inquiry Schools, Philadelphia, PA
" Teaching U.S. History Thematically provides teachers a practical yet compelling response to problems in history education. Metro’s approach to providing historical study through themes, primary sourcing, inquiry, and current topics combines what educational researchers and policymakers denote as best educational practices. The book is a useful resource for novice and experienced history teachers, social studies teacher educators, homeschooling, and community educators. I am excited to use in my college classes; this is required reading!”
—LaGarrett King, University of Missouri
“A remarkably thoughtful and engaging aid to teaching U.S. history. Using carefully chosen primary documents, Metro raises pointed questions that will help teachers and students alike wrestle with the place of the past in the present.”
—Jill Lepore, Harvard University
Introduction: Why Use a Thematic, Document-Based Approach for Teaching U.S. History?
Meeting Common Core and High-Quality State Standards
What Do We Mean When We Say "We"?
Structure of a Unit
Structure of a Lesson
Accounting for Grade Level and Differentiating Instruction
Designing Your Own Thematic Units
1. American Democracy: What Is American Democracy, and What Should It Be?
Lesson 1.1: How Do Ordinary Americans Define Democracy in the 21st Century?
Lesson 1.2: How Did Native American Traditions Influence American Democracy?
Lesson 1.3: How Did Thomas Paine Argue for Independence from Britain?
Lesson 1.4: What Was James Madison’s Argument for Representative Democracy?
Lesson 1.5: What Did Thomas Jefferson Believe Were the Main Responsibilities of Government?
Lesson 1.6: How Did Andrew Jackson Represent the "Common Man"?
Lesson 1.7: How Did Frederick Douglass Criticize American Democracy?
Lesson 1.8: How Did Abraham Lincoln Define Democracy?
Lesson 1.9: How Did Susan B. Anthony Interpret the Constitution?
Lesson 1.10: What Did John F. Kennedy Believe the United States Should Do for the World?
Lesson 1.11: Why Did Ronald Reagan Believe America Was Great?
Lesson 1.12: Why Did Barack Obama Think the United States Was Not Yet a Perfect Union?
2. Diversity and Discrimination: What Does Equality Mean?
Lesson 2.1: What Was the Supreme Court’s Argument for Allowing Same-Sex Marriage?
Lesson 2.2: What Did the Constitution Say About Slavery?
Lesson 2.3: How Did Native Americans Argue for Equal Rights?
Lesson 2.4: How Did Sojourner Truth Define Equality?
Lesson 2.5: What Was the Supreme Court's Rationale for Denying Black People Citizenship?
Lesson 2.6: Why Did John Brown Think Violence Was Justified to End Slavery?
Lesson 2.7: What Was the Supreme Court’s Reasoning for "Separate but Equal" Facilities?
Lesson 2.8: Why Did Elizabeth Cady Stanton Believe Women Deserved the Same Rights as Men?
Lesson 2.9: What Was the Supreme Court’s Argument for Excluding Chinese People from U.S. Citizenship?
Lesson 2.10: What Was the Ku Klux Klan’s Argument for White Supremacy?
Lesson 2.11: How Did the Supreme Court Explain Its Decision to Overturn the "Separate but Equal" Doctrine?
Lesson 2.12: How Did Malcolm X Think Racial Equality Could Be Achieved?
3. States’ Rights and Federal Power: How Should Power Be Distributed Among Local, State, and Federal Governments?
Lesson 3.1: On What Basis Did the NAACP Argue That North Carolina Law Violated the Voting Rights Act?
Lesson 3.2: What Was the Balance of Power Between the States and Congress in the Articles of Confederation?
Lesson 3.3: How Did the Constitution Compare with the Articles of Confederation?
Lesson 3.4: How Did George Washington Explain His Decision to Suppress the Whiskey Rebellion?
Lesson 3.5: How Did States’ Rights and Federalist Interpretations of the Constitution Differ?
Lesson 3.6: Who Is Responsible for Protecting Native American Nations: State or Federal Governments?
Lesson 3.7: How Did Daniel Webster Argue That States Couldn’t Nullify Federal Laws?
Lesson 3.8: How Did the Southern States Explain Their Decision to Secede from the Union?
Lesson 3.9: Why Did Dwight Eisenhower Enforce Desegregation?
Lesson 3.10: How Did Orval Faubus Argue for Segregation as a "State’s Right"?
Lesson 3.11: Does the State or Federal Government Protect Individuals from Environmental Harm?
4. Government, Business, and Workers: What Role Should Government and Business Play in Promoting Citizens’ Well-Being?
Lesson 4.1: How Did Donald Trump Think the Government Should Promote a Strong Economy?
Lesson 4.2: What Were Christopher Columbus’s Economic and Social Goals?
Lesson 4.3: Why Did John Calhoun Define Slavery as a "Positive Good"?
Lesson 4.4: Why Did the Lowell Mill Women Go on Strike?
Lesson 4.5: How Did W. E. B. Du Bois Think That the Government Succeeded and Failed in Helping Former Slaves?
Lesson 4.6: What Was Andrew Carnegie’s Argument for Social Darwinism?
Lesson 4.7: How Did the "Other Half" Live in Jacob Riis’s Photos?
Lesson 4.8: How Did Upton Sinclair Want to Change the Meatpacking Industry?
Lesson 4.9: What Was Henry Ford’s Plan for Ending Poverty?
Lesson 4.10: What Were the Aims of the New Deal?
Lesson 4.11: Why Did Lyndon Johnson Launch a War on Poverty?
Lesson 4.12: Why Did Cesar Chavez Believe Farmworkers Should Unionize?
Lesson 4.13: What Was Reaganomics?
5. Foreign Policy: Under What Circumstances Should the United States Intervene in World Events?
Lesson 5.1: How Did Donald Trump Explain His Decision to Bomb Syria?
Lesson 5.2: Why Did George Washington Believe the United States Should Stay Neutral?
Lesson 5.3: How Did the Monroe Doctrine Change U.S. Foreign Policy?
Lesson 5.4: How Was the Idea of Manifest Destiny Used to Justify Taking Over Foreign Lands?
Lesson 5.5: Why Did Mark Twain Oppose U.S. Colonization of the Philippines?
Lesson 5.6: How Did Woodrow Wilson Try to Convince Americans to Stay Neutral in World War I?
Lesson 5.7: How Did Franklin D. Roosevelt Explain His Decision to Involve the United States in World War II?
Lesson 5.8: How Did Eleanor Roosevelt Explain the Purpose of the United Nations?
Lesson 5.9: How Did the Truman Doctrine Change U.S. Foreign Policy?
Lesson 5.10: Why Did Martin Luther King Jr. Oppose the Vietnam War?
Lesson 5.11: On What Basis Did Henry Kissinger Advise Richard Nixon to Oppose Chilean President Salvador Allende?
Lesson 5.12: How Did Bill Clinton Explain His Decision to Intervene in the Genocide of Bosnian Muslims?
Lesson 5.13: What Was George W. Bush’s Strategy in the War on Terror?
6. Civil Liberties and Public Safety: Under What Conditions, If Any, Should Citizens’ Freedoms Be Restricted?
Lesson 6.1: What Was Barack Obama’s Plan to Reduce Gun Violence?
Lesson 6.2: How Did the United States Explain Its Decision to Declare Independence from Britain?
Lesson 6.3: What Does the Bill of Rights Guarantee?
Lesson 6.4: How Did John Adams Restrict Freedom of the Press?
Lesson 6.5: What Was Abraham Lincoln’s Argument for Suspending Habeas Corpus Rights During the Civil War?
Lesson 6.6: Was Carrie Nation’s Temperance Activism Protected by the Constitution?
Lesson 6.7: How Did Herbert Hoover Explain His Decision to Disperse the Bonus Army?
Lesson 6.8: How Did Franklin D. Roosevelt Justify the Internment of Japanese Americans?
Lesson 6.9: How Did Paul Robeson Defend Himself Against Joseph McCarthy’s Accusation That He Was a Communist?
Lesson 6.10: How Did COINTELPRO Justify Its Surveillance of U.S. Citizens?
Lesson 6.11: What Rights Did the Black Panther Party Demand, and Why?
Lesson 6.12: How Did the U.S. Government Defend the USA PATRIOT Act?
7. Identity: What Do We Mean When We Say "We"?
Lesson 7.1: Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, 1776
Lesson 7.2: Our Hearts Are Sickened, John Ross, 1838
Lesson 7.3: Declaration of Immediate Causes, South Carolina Legislature, 1860
Lesson 7.4: On Women’s Right to Vote, Susan B. Anthony, 1872
Lesson 7.5: Appeal for Neutrality, Woodrow Wilson, 1914
Lesson 7.6: The Klan’s Fight for Americanism, Hiram W. Evans, 1926
Lesson 7.7: Day of Infamy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941
Lesson 7.8: By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X, 1964
Lesson 7.9: Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
Lesson 7.10: A Shining City on a Hill, Ronald Reagan, 1974
Lesson 7.11: The War on Terror, George W. Bush, 2001
Lesson 7.12: A More Perfect Union, Barack Obama, 2008
Appendix A: Quick Reference Guide
Appendix B: Course Entry Survey
Appendix C: Course Exit Survey
Appendix D: Unit Entry Survey
Appendix E: Biographical Research Paper Instructions
Appendix F: Summit Research Worksheet
Appendix G: Unit Exit Survey
Appendix H: Current Issue Letter Instructions
Appendix I: Designing Your Own Thematic Units
Appendix J: Discussion Guidelines
Appendix K: Online Content
About the Author