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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 22

Length: 30 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

Social Studies

Video on Demand
Web Resources


America’s History in the Making

This course for middle and high school teachers explores American history from the Pre-Columbian era through Reconstruction. The video programs are divided into three segments: Historical Perspectives, an overview of the historical era; Faces of America, in which biographies of individuals illustrate larger events; and Hands-on History, a behind-the-scenes look at how history is studied, documented, and presented.

Episode Guide

1. Pre-Columbian America This six-hour workshop focuses first on the Historical Thinking Skills, as developed by the National Center for History in the Schools. The second portion of the session introduces Pre-Columbian societies in North America.

2. Mapping Initial Encounters Columbus’s arrival launched an era of initial encounters between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans that continued for nearly 300 years. This unit examines how these contacts began the phenomenon now known as the Columbian Exchange.

3. Colonial Designs Charts the changing interactions between competing European powers and Native Americans, and the increasing reliance on the race-based enslavement of Africans.

4. Revolutionary Perspectives Traces the effects of those ideas and the impact on diverse groups such as British Loyalists, Revolutionary leaders, Native Americans, yeoman farmers, and enslaved blacks.

5. Classroom Applications 1 (Print Only Unit) Steps out of historical content to focus on the pedagogy of assessment techniques, revisiting the Historical Thinking Skills introduced in Unit 1.

6. The New Nation Following the War of Independence, Americans disagreed — often passionately — about the form and function of the federal government. This unit explores how those conflicts played out as the new republic defined its identity in relation to other nations.

7. Contested Territories The United States acquired vast territories between the time of the Revolution and the Civil War, paying a price economically, socially, and politically. This unit examines the forces that drove such rapid expansion.

8. Antebellum Reform Traces the emergence of reform movements instigated by the Second Great Awakening and the impact these movements had on American culture.

9. A Nation Divided Although the Civil War is viewed today through the lens of the Union’s ultimate victory, for much of the war, that victory was far from certain. This unit examines the uncertainty and horrible destruction in the war between the states.

10. Reconstructing a Nation Examines the successes and failures of Reconstruction

11. Classroom Applications 2 (Print Only Unit) Provides an opportunity for teachers to generate student assignments for use in their classrooms.

12. Using Digital Technologies Introduces procedures to develop or improve Internet research skills, as well as related copyright laws so teachers can effectively use and teach with historical primary sources.

13. Taming the American West Western settlers’ assumptions of an endless, bountiful frontier were tested when they moved to the Great Plains and attempted to cultivate the unfamiliar, arid landscape.

14. Industrializing America From factories in San Francisco to sweatshops in New York, productivity flourished. This unit explores how growing urbanism contributed to changing social norms, from the working classes to the elite.

15. The Progressives Overburdened cities led Progressives to agitate for reforms on political, economic, and social fronts.

16. A Growing Global Power Fueled by patriotism, capitalism, and religion, the U.S. extended its reach beyond national borders.

17. Classroom Applications 3 (Print Only Unit) This unit helps teachers develop a series of lesson plans that use primary sources and historical thinking skills, covering the content learned in previous units.

18. By the People, For the People Plummeting agricultural exports, the stock market crash, and environmental disaster all led to an unprecedented economic depression. Subsequently, a new relationship between individuals and the government arose, with a strong communitarian spirit drawing the nation together before World War II.

19. Postwar Tension and Triumph Examines the tensions of the Cold War era, reflected in divergent dichotomies. Individuals and groups raised their expectations for equality as veterans returned from the global conflict of World War II.

20. Egalitarian America Brown v. The Board of Education was one of the significant results of Americans demanding political, social, and economic equality.

21. Global America As the turn of the century approached, the pendulum of American politics and social structures began to swing back toward conservativism. With immigration from Asia and the Americas on the rise, the face of America changed rapidly.

22. Classroom Applications 4 (Print Only Unit) The emphasis of this unit is on the use of digital primary sources, writing biographical accounts, and planning for student-written biographies.

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