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American Literature Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

Updated on November 7, 2015
Legend of Sleeping Hollow
Legend of Sleeping Hollow | Source

Need some help with your American History lessons? Take a peek at my lesson plans and ideas.

My first year teaching I was dying to see other teachers' plan books, but most of them were either blank or didn't seem suitable for our students ("high-risk" with poor reading skills). After teaching American history to 8th graders for a few years, I've developed this webpage in the hopes that it can help first year teachers get an idea of what to do, or help out some experienced teachers freshen up some lessons. Just to let you know, my "at-risk" students have the same passing rate on the history portion of the state standardized exam as the "advanced" students.

Included below is my lesson for Week 17: American Literature. This is the lesson I used the week before Winter Break. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. You can visit my Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History to see my classroom set up, procedures, grading, use of textbook, exam ideas, etc.

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson | Source

Week 17: Day 1 (Week Before Winter Break): American Literature

What have American authors written about?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Who was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House? (find the answer at [Answer: Franklin Pierce]

Objective: What have American authors written about?

Homework: Bring snacks to share

1. If you were living in America during the time of George Washington and the creation of our new government, what are 5+ things you might write about if you were an author?

2. Review exam

3. Literature notes: students highlight information pages 210-211 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation). (I tell them what to highlight.)

4. Summarize and show pictures from Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, Evangeline, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and poems from Emily Dickinson. I used "Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson" by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin and Chi Chung and "Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle" by Ashley Foehner.

5. Literature crossword puzzle

Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson
Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson

This is the book I used to show illustrations as I read a few of Emily Dickinson's poems. Each poem has complimentary illustrations.

Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle
Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

There are a number of illustrated versions of Rip Van Winkle. This was my favorite and was the one I flipped through as I summarized the story. Another version, "Rip Van Winkle's Return" by Eric A. Kimmel, also has good illustrations.


What do you think is the most important work that should be studied in American Literature?

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Last of the Mohicans movie
Last of the Mohicans movie | Source

Week 17: Day 2 (Day Before Winter Break): Last of the Mohicans

What was it life like living on the frontier?

Objective: What was it life like living on the frontier?

Watch "Last of the Mohicans" movie. Students take 5 notes, and can take more for extra credit. (Fast forward through first 15 minutes of movie.) I do allow for students to bring in food to share with the class and eat during the movie.

Watch the trailer for "The Last of the Mohicans"

Table of Contents for My Lesson Plan Book

Would you like to see the rest of my lessons?

Weeks 1-2: First Week of School & Geography Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

Weeks 3-8: Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plans

Weeks 8-13: American Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 13-16: Constitution Lesson Plans

Week 17: American Literature Lesson Plans (this set of lessons)

Weeks 18-19: Our New Nation Lesson Plans

Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 23-26: Westward Expansion & Roads to Freedom Lesson Plans

Weeks 26-30: Civil War Lesson Plans

Are you a history teacher?

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