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United States History Lesson Plans

Brown versus Board of Education: Rhetoric and realities
In this lesson, students will listen to three oral histories that shed light on political and personal reactions toward the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown versus Board of Education. Though the ruling itself is not mentioned, words like "integration" and "forced busing" refer to the social outcomes as perceived by the speakers.

Busing for Integration vs. Neighborhood Schools
This lesson plan will introduce students to the political, social, and economic issues surrounding school desegregation using oral histories from those who experienced it firsthand. They will learn about the history of the "separate but equal" U.S. school system, the 1971 Swann case which forced Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to integrate, and the recent decision to discontinue busing for racial integration in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Child Labor in Cotton Mills of the Early 20th Century
This lesson will provide students with a look into mill life and child labor in the South in the early 20th century, as part of the story of American industrialization. Students will examine a poster from a mill village as a focus and review activity and students will read a document calling for an end to child labor in Southern cotton mills, especially focusing on ending the employment of females under 14 years of age.

Comparing and Contrasting Political Change through Map Making
In this lesson, students will work in cooperative groups to compare and contrast the following presidential elections: 1876, 1896, 1948, 1964, 1972, 1980, and 2008 through the creation of political maps.

Conduct your own oral history project
In this unit for grade 8, students will research the experience of going to the movies by conducting background research on the moviegoing experience in the early 20th century, and conducting oral history interviews with contemporary student peers, and with family and/or friends representative of older generations.

Cotton Mills Seen Through Differing Perspectives: Critical Analysis of Primary Documents
In this lesson, students will read two primary source documents from Documenting the American South, a digital library collection sponsored by the University Library at UNC. One document is Child Labor in the Carolinas, a pamphlet published in 1909 by the National Child Labor Committee exposing the use of child labor in the cotton mills of North Carolina.

De Facto vs. De Jure Segregation
In this lesson, students will contrast and compare de facto and de jure segregation, listening to oral history examples of each from residents of Charlotte, North Carolina. Students will then brainstorm solutions to each type of segregation, and will discuss why de facto segregation can persist even after de jure segregation is eliminated.

Exploring First-Person Female Narratives Related to Sherman's March to the Sea
This lesson plan uses first person narratives from the Documenting the American South collection to demonstrate differences in perspective related to historical events, in this case, Sherman's march to the sea. It encourages students to compare the views of two southern ladies with that of a Union soldier.

Interpreting Diaries of the American South
Students will read diaries of individuals who lived in the American South from 1865-1917. After reading these diaries the students will use a visual means of displaying their interpretation. Visual presentations will be one of the following: shadow box, poster, PowerPoint using drawings done by the student, brochure, or presenting an item that would have been used during the time that their diary was written.

Interracial "Harmony" and the Great Awakening
The students will be introduced to two episodes in 19th century American history, around the time of the Great Awakening, that show glipses of some positive and negative consequences of interracial interaction in a religious context. The students will examine primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection to then be able to write a "sermon" from the perspective of a southern itinerant preacher during the Great Awakening arguing for or against religion as a cure for the social ill of racism and slavery.

Join Up
This lesson is designed to help students look more closely at the reasons why Paul and his friends from the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, along with other soldiers joined the armed forces in WWI. Through primary sources and the novel, students will have a better understanding of propaganda and how it affects people.

Labor unions in the cotton mills
In this lesson, students will learn about the labor union movement in the U.S., specifically the union influence on the cotton mills of North and South Carolina. Students will listen to oral histories from former mill workers explaining why they did or did not become involved with the union, and then will be asked to make that decision themselves. They will provide an explanation for their decision by giving a speech to convince their classmates to join or not join, drawing on the oral histories and what they've learned.

"Letters Back Home" World War I: A Soldier's Perspective
World War I traumatized many of the soldiers that participated in the war. It had a lasting effect on the political, economic, social, and cultural lives of Americans during the 1920?s. By reading letters that one soldier wrote to his family back home. Students can gain insight into the reasons why the "Great War" had such a profound impact on the United States in years foolowing the war.

Liberation and Deliberation: The North Carolina Ratification Debates of 1788
This lesson focuses on the deliberations over ratification of the US Constitution by the North Carolina legislators. In particular it traces the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-federalists found in the primary sources digitized in the Documenting the American South collection.

The Middle Passage According to Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano is perhaps one of the most well-known abolitionist writers and former slaves to live in America. His narrative has been digitized as a part of the Documenting the American South "North American Slave Narratives" collection. His vivid retelling of his trip onboard a slave ship bound for the New World illustrates the horrific and dehumanizing experience.

Outfitting a World War I Soldier - Teaching US History with Primary Sources
What do soldiers wear? Students will say a uniform and mention boots. However, many of the necessities of soldiers are often overlooked by civilians whether the items be standard issue or personal.This lesson gives students the opportunity to not only look at William B. Umstead's artifacts from World War I, but gain insight into how and why each item was used.

Native Americans and Jamestown
Using primary sources, students will investigate the role of Native Americans in the successes and failures of Jamestown. Students will identify and analyze inaccurate portrayals of Pocahontas and Powhatan by comparing historical facts with literary fiction.

Recording School Desegregation: Conduct Your Own Oral History Project
In this unit, students will research the history of school desegregation, and bring that history to life by listening to oral histories of North Carolinians who lived through desegregation. Students will then become historians, recording their own oral histories with relatives or community members, and reflecting on the experience through writing. The oral histories will be collected into a final project and placed in the school's library for students and teachers to study in the future.

School Desegregation Pioneers
In this lesson, students will learn about the challenges faced by the first students to desegregate Southern schools, such as racism, verbal harassment, and physical threats. They will hear oral histories telling the story of desegregation pioneers in Alabama and North Carolina, and critically analyze images of school desegregation. Students will then write a narrative from the point of view of a black student desegregating a white school, exploring how the student may have felt about the experience.

Socialization and the Traditional Role of Women in the South
Students will define traditionally accepted notions concerning behavior and expectations for women in the South using the investigation of oral histories, cultural institutions and methods of socialization pre-WWI.

Take Action: Working to Stop Child Labor Today
In this lesson, students will first learn about the use of child labor in the cotton mills of North and South Carolina from the 1880's through the 1920's by listening to oral histories from former child mill workers. They will also research the use of child labor in today's world. Students will then brainstorm and implement actions to stop child labor around the world, such as educating themselves and others about the issue, letter writing campaigns to governments and companies, and donating to organizations that work to stop child labor.

War Time Propaganda: American Posters of the Great War
This lesson correlates with students' study of the World War I period. In particular, students will examine war time propaganda, in the form of posters that appeared on the home front digitized in the Documenting the American South "North Carolina and the Great War" collection.

Welcome to the New World
This lesson provides students an opportunity to read and interpret writings of the late 1500's and to transfer the information provided in the writings into a visual medium as a means of understanding and interpretation. The lesson also provides students practice in persuasive techniques.

Where Have We Been? Tracing Family through a Timeline of National History
This lesson plan introduces students to examples of how wars and technological developments have impacted the movement of people throughout United States and world history. Students will learn about the effects of political, technological, and geographical issues on the population of one North Carolina community.

Who started the Civil War? Comparing Perspectives on the Causes of the War
This lesson plans presents the account of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a confederate spy during the Civil War. Students are encouraged to find confirming and disconfirming evidence of her perspective on what caused the Civil War by browsing the Documenting the American South Collection of digitized primary sources.

World War I and the changing face of gender roles
Students will assess the political, economic, social, and cultural effects of the war on the women's movement