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Our New Nation Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History
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.
Below are my weekly lessons for weeks 18 - 19: Our New Nation. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. Please 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.
Week 18: Day 1 (Day after Winter Break): George Washington
What happened during George Washington's presidency?
HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How much did America pay for the Louisiana Purchase? (*You can have double the prize/extra credit if you can tell me how much they paid per square acre.) [Answer: The 1803 purchase from France of 828,000 square miles of land, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, cost $15 million. This put the price of each acre of land at about 3 cents.]
This famous African-American accomplished amazing things by teaching himself math and science using textbooks from a Quaker mill owner. He was a brilliant astronomer, creating six almanacs. In 1791 Thomas Jefferson recommended this man for the job of planning the lay-out for Washington, D.C. Who was this man? [Answer: Benjamin Banneker]
Note: Unit IV: Our New Nation and Unit V: The American Industrial Revolution will be combined into one exam. The notebook will also not be graded until the end of Unit V.
Objective: What happened during George Washington's presidency?
1. Write about a time when you were expected to set an example for someone else. How did you feel? What did you do differently that you might not have done otherwise? (Teacher explanation: George Washington had to set an example for the country and for future Presidents.)
2. ***For "Celebration" time every single person says one thing they did during winter break and one thing they got.***
3. Milling to Music: Play music and have everyone walk around. Whenever the music stops, each student stands next to the person closest to him/her. I call out 1 of three questions repeatedly: "What did you do over the break?," "What was the best gift that you got?," "Who did you see that you normally don't get to see?" After a minute of chatting, I start the music again. They walk around again and stop to answer the question I call out when I stop the music again.
4. Make Unit IV: Our New Nation cover page
5. Powerpoint slide lecture & timeline. Have students create an illustrated time line of all the major events from 1789-1823. They draw a line down the middle of their page. Put the first event on the left side of the time line and the second event on the right side of the time line. Continue to switch back and forth. Whenever I say a year, they must put a dot on the line, write the year, and then what I said happened that year. (I repeat myself a few times to let them know they need to write something down.) Show powerpoint slides, ask students questions so they are looking at the pictures (What's happening in this slide? Who's the man on the horse? What is he doing? etc.), and then lecture with INTERESTING tidbits. In order to keep the lectures interesting, I did a lot of extra reading and added in extra facts and trivia. One of the best places I found was reading the "Points of Interest" at POTUS.com .
Tell the students exactly what to write down:
1789- Washington takes oath of office in New York City
1789- Start of French Revolution
1794- Washington sends troops to suppress Whiskey Rebellion in Western PA
6. Read and discuss Washington's Farewell Address (p. 312)
7. WRAP-UP: Next to each of the events on the time line, sketch a drawing to help you remember that event.
Best Resources from Teaching About George Washington
This has great historical re-enactments that really bring George Washington and his times to life. I show short snippets of the historical reenactments from this DVD.
This is great for ESL students and any students who have lower reading levels. It is historically accurate yet is presented in a comic book format. My students LOVE these...and learn just about as much as they would from the textbook! Also look for the books from this series about Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Star Spangled Banner.
My Favorite Resources for Lecture Information
Many students actually pay attention and remember what I say during my lectures because I include stories about the daily lives of the famous people of American History. Much of the material included in textbooks is less than exciting. Many of the stories I include come from books written for children such as these.
This talks about what life was like during Washington's time. I have gotten lots of interesting information from it that I have added to my lectures.
This provides plenty of interesting information about George Washington that is fun to include in your lectures to keep it interesting and memorable.
Week 18: Day 2: Adams through Louisiana Purchase
How did our country get so big?
Objective: How did our country get so big?
Homework: Get agenda signed
1. In 5+ sentences, write about a time you did something because you thought it was right but it made you unpopular with others OR write about a time you did something you thought was right to do but someone else thought was wrong to do.
2. Define: XYZ affair, alien & sedition acts, states' rights, Marbury v. Madison, Judicial review, and Louisiana Purchase from textbook
3. Give a brief "tour" of Washington, D. C. using p. 174 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation).
4. Continue Presidential Timeline powerpoint lecture. Questions can include: Who is this man? Does he look like he has many friends? What type of man is this? Why would a Chief Justice who served for 35 years be so important? Who is this man? How might he feel about "common"/regular/not rich people ruling? etc.
1796- Federalist John Adams became second President
1798- XYZ affair when France refused to cooperate with America
1798- John Adams stayed neutral in war between France and England
1798- Alien & Sedition Acts passed by Congress to stop assaults on Adams
1800- Republican Thomas Jefferson became 3rd President
1800- John Marshall appointed Supreme Court Justice
1803- Marbury v. Madison established judicial review allowing courts to decide what is Constitutional
1803- Thomas Jefferson supported the purchase of Louisiana from France for $15 million
(*If you would like to see the video clips and links to free worksheets I compiled on John Adams and his presidency, go to http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/president-john-adams. If you would like to see the video clips and links to free worksheets I compiled on Thomas Jefferson and his presidency, go to http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/president-thomas-jefferson.)
5. Louisiana Purchase worksheet (5-10 minutes)
6. Sketch a small drawing for each event you added to your Presidential time line
7. WRAP-UP: VOTE FOR THOMAS JEFFERSON! It's 1804 and time to vote for the President again. Create a campaign poster for Thomas Jefferson. Include a visual aide, catchy slogan, and 3+ reasons people should vote for him based on what he did during his previous term as President.
Use These for Teaching About the Louisiana Purchase
This is a great place to find interesting tidbits to add to lectures to make them more interesting and memorable!
Week 19: Day 1: War of 1812
How did America get into a second war with England?
HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the name of the poem that later became the "Star Spangled Banner"? [Answer: The poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 to commemorate the battle for Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812, was called "Defense of Fort McHenry."]
What kind of rockets glared red in "The Star-Spangled Banner": Dynamite, Bouey rockets, or congreve rockets? [Answer: The rockets that the national anthem refers to were Congreve rockets, invented by Sir Thomas Congreve and used by the British in the War of 1812. The noisy, hissing missles, 42 inches long, were used throughout the British campaigns in Maryland in 1813-14. The rockets initially terrified the Americans but proved to be ineffective, killing only two men in combat and doing little property damage.]
Objective: How did America get into a second war with England?
1. You're the captain of an American ship, loaded with sailors and goods in the Atlantic Ocean. A British ship demands that you stop your ship so that they can search for dissenters from their navy. If you refuse their request, they will attach your ship by force. A) What are at least 2 ways you could response to this request? B) What will you do? C) Why?
2. Read pp. 337-345 and answer the following questions: a) Define "Embargo Act" and "Nonintercourse Act." B) What were the causes of the War of 1812? C) Who was Tecumseh? What did he want? Was he successful? Why? D) Who were the War Hawks? What did they want? Did they get what they wanted? E) How did the War of 1812 end? (Play Overture of 1812 as they read and answer questions.)
3. Continue President timeline powerpoint lecture. Verbal questions can include: What's happening in this cartoon? What does the turtle represent? Who is this man? What type of President do you think he'd make? What is happening in this slide? Where are the bombs coming from? etc.)
1807- Jefferson passed Embargo Act stopping all trades with other countries
1808- Republican James Madison became 4th President
1809- Madison passed Non-Intercourse Act allowing trade with all countries except France and England
1811 - Harrison defeated Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Americans realized Indians had been using British weapons.
1812 - Madison declared war on England . Lasts 3 years & ends in 1815.
1814 - England bombed Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key wrote "Star Spangled Banner"
1815 - War ended. No one won. England and US signed Treaty of Ghent.
(*If you would like to see the video clips and links to free worksheets I compiled on James Madison and his presidency, go to http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/president-james-madison.)
4. Show and discuss p. 243 from This is America's Story (Wilder, Ludlum, Brown) on the War of 1812.
5. WRAP-UP: 3 VIEWS OF THE WAR OF 1812: Draw the faces of a War Hawk, President Adams, and a Native American. Next to each face, include a thought bubble for each person explaining if they wanted to go to war with England and why or why not.
Fun Resources of Presidential Tidbits
This includes plenty of fun tidbits to add to lectures. It's a bit more of a challenge to find interesting information on some of the lesser known Presidents, so this in a helpful resource for those particular Presidents.
Week 19: Day 2: Monroe - Jackson
Why did we stay out of other countries' business until recently, and why do Presidents now try to appear like "normal" people?
Objective: Why did we stay out of other countries' business until recently, and why do Presidents now try to appear like "normal" people?
Homework: Get agenda signed
1. A) If you lost something really valuable, what would you do? B) In 3+ sentences, describe a time when this happened to you or to someone you knew.
2. Presidential timeline powerpoint lecture:
1816 - Republican James Madison because 5th president
1819 - America gained Florida from Spain because of Andrew Jackson
3. Read pp. 335-356 & discuss Florida
4. Presidential timeline powerpoint lecture:
1823- Monroe delivered Monroe Doctrine warning other countries to stay out of America and America will stay out of Europe
1824 - John Quincy Adams became 6th president
1828 - Democrat Andrew Jackson became 7th President
5. Show and discuss p. 248 from This is America's Story (Wilder, Ludlum, Brown) on the Monroe Doctrine.
6. Compare President Washington and President Jackson by comparings powerpoint slides. (Questions came from History Alive!)
a. Look at a painting of Washington & his cabinet and describe them in 5 words.
b. Look at a painting of people in the 1830's. Use 5 words to describe them. How do they differ from the people in the previous picture?
c. Look at a painting of Washington's inauguration. Describe the people who are there. Based on what they look like, what conclusions can you draw about the government during this time?
d. Look at the scene outside the White House after Jackson's inauguration. Describe the people. How is this different from what you saw at Washington's inauguration? List 3 conclusions you can draw about the government during the Jackson era.
e. Listen to "The President's March." How does the song make you feel? Describe the song in 3 words. What does the song tell you about our first President?
f. Listen to "Huzza! for General Jackson." (Click here for the lyrics.) How does the song make you feel? Describe the song in 3 words. What does the song tell you about President Jackson?
g. Based on what you have seen and heard, use 3 words or ideas to describe how did the role of President changed from the time of Washington to the time of Jackson.
(*If you would like to see the video clips and links to free worksheets I compiled on James Monroe and his presidency, go to http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/president-james-monroe. If you would like to see the video clips and links to free worksheets I compiled on Andrew Jackson and his presidency, go to http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/president-andrew-jackson.)
7. T- Chart Federalist Era vs. Jacksonian Era: Under Federalist Era write, "President came from Virginia or Massachusetts, Suffrage (people who can vote) = male, white, Christian property-owners, formal/aristocratic." Under Jacksonian Era write, "President came from out West, Suffrage = all white males, normal/noisy/informal." * To help students remember "suffrage," I tell them about an episode I saw on "The Man Show" when they set up a booth at the beach in California and had people sign a petition to end women's suffrage. They got thousands of signatures. It took a few hours before a woman walked up and was struck with disbelief when she saw what they were doing. She started yelling to all the people around that they were trying to end women's ability to vote. Wouldn't it have been scary had they not been doing this as a joke?
8. WRAP-UP: Next to each of the events on the time line, sketch a drawing to help you remember that event.
Fun Resources of Presidential Tidbits and Trivia
This DVD has some excellent footage (historical reenactments) on all the presidents and is perfect for showing for each president.
I keep this handy for when I have a few spare minutes. It has fun trivia covering the various presidents. I sometimes have candy for the first person or team who gets the correct answer.
End Women's Suffrage
This isn't the episode I saw on "The Man Show," but it's the same idea.
Previous Unit: Week 17: American Literature
- Week 17: American Literature
American Literature Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History
Next Unit: Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution
- Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History
My Lesson Plan Book Table of Contents
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
Weeks 18-19: Our New Nation Lesson Plans (this set of lessons)
Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans
Weeks 23-26: Westward Expansion & Roads to Freedom Lesson Plans
Weeks 26-30: Civil War Lesson Plans