8th Grade Course of Study
Text: Creating America, 2001, McDougal Littell
Units of Study:I. The Creation of the American Legal SystemII The Young Nation and the Constitution
II. The Constitution Expands in the 19th Century
The 8th grade course in American history will cover the years 1660 to the present. Obviously, it is impossible to cover every aspect of American history in those years. In order to make the topic more manageable, the emphasis will be on the issues of racism, industrial development, transportation, social history, and constitutional developments. In order to understand where we are and where we are going, we must first come to grips with the past.The course begins by briefly introducing the US Constitution and the manner in which it was tranformed during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's. This continuation of the 7th grade course of study then allow the students to begin to examine the roots of the American legal system. By tracing English legal tradition from 1066 through the 1600's, students learn how our society is based in a series of contracts that evolved into law.
Our course continues with the legal conflicts between Great Britain and the colonies that led to the American Revolution. After reviewing the Revolution, students, the course picks up with the first term of George Washington in 1789. Almost immediately, the new nation must confront the existence of slavery - a situation predicted by Benjamin Franklin during the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. We will examine how every development in American history during the first 80 years of our history had to deal with the institution of slavery in one way or another.
Jacksonian Democracy was important in expanding the rights of the Constitution to more individuals within American society. This led to the women’s movement and the abolitionist movement that led our nation into the Civil War.The course will necessitate an engaged reading of the assigned text. To insure that the text is read, daily quizzes based on the reading might be given the day after a section of reading is assigned. Class time will be spent analyzing the information read for homework and working on a variety of exercises that will clarify the nature of the questions we will be asking.
At no time should a student feel as though they have reached an absolute truth in this course. While the rote memorization of important names, dates, and events are important in the study of history, this course will emphasize an analysis of the events in the American past. Critical writing is an absolute must in order to accomplish this goal.
A student's grade will be based on their performance on quizzes, tests, brief research projects, class participation, classroom activities, and homework. I will also maintain a journal folder for each student in the class that will collect their written class work throughout the year. The completion of daily homework assignments is essential in attaining a satisfactory grade. All assignments worked on in this class are important. To help students organize their materials, I require each student to use an assignment sheet that I provide for each chapter. Each assignment is given a number and must be written down on the sheet. At the completion of each unit, the assignment sheet and the completed assignments themselves are turned in by the students. The keeping of an organized notebook will permit students to be better prepared for tests and brief research projects.