In 8th grade this year, we study US history beginning with the French and Indian War (1754) through the Reconstruction of the Civil War (1880). The textbook for this course, America: History of Our Nation Beginnings through 1877, is “user friendly.” The captions help guide the reading and the pictures provide a vivid reality to the world around us. Students are issued books to take home. It is important that students have a text at home for reference and homework assignments. I also have a class set for students to use at school. The textbook is used as only one of many resources that help lead the students into a deeper understanding of the history of the United States. I frequently draw on other resources and authors. For example in the ALPS class I use Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Environmental Movements by Timothy Doyle. In the regular US History class we will read Captured! A Boy Trapped in the Civil War by Mary Blair Immel and sources from A History of Us by Joy Hakim.
Eighth grade US history provides each student an excellent chance to explore their own natural curiosity about the history of our great nation. At the same time, students develop skills to research topics and compare their ideas to facts and real events. The various units the students study in 8th grade include a brief review of United States geography and a study of the various time periods including establishment of a new nation, growth and expansion, the Civil War and reconstruction. For each unit, students learn about topics and issues by reading various sources of information (textbook, new articles, reference materials, etc.), reviewing and reinforcing this information through practice exercises such as activities, journal writing, and quizzes and demonstrating their understanding of the material through group activities, presentations and traditional tests.