This literature-based history class integrates American history with English for middle school students: a “two-for-one” approach that fulfills requirements for both English and social studies in one class. Rather than relying on a traditional history text, students will read numerous biographies, historical fiction, and nonfiction works, along with an engaging reference work from National Geographic. Lessons will begin with Columbus and other early explorers and continue through the 20th century to World War II. English grammar will be covered so that this is a complete English course; some vocabulary will also be covered and parents have the option of purchasing a Wordly Wise vocabulary workbook for additional lessons.
- Learn the people and events important in American history from Columbus to World War II.
- Write four essays: descriptive (eyewitness report), narrative (recalling a historic moment), expository (compare/contrast), and persuasive (defending a position).
- Complete four major projects: a visual project (such as a power point presentation or display board); a creative short story; a research report; and an informative speech).
- Read fourteen books (biographies, historical fiction, or nonfiction) covering various people and events in United States history, including three novels all students will read.
- Identify the elements and techniques of literature through novels read.
- Appreciate poems and song lyrics about American historical events, analyzing the elements of poetry; also write one historical poem.
- Take regular tests covering historical content, as well as English concepts.
- Improve skills in English grammar including the parts of speech, the functions of nouns, sentence structure, punctuation, and “using the right word” (homonyms and word usage).
- Learn historical vocabulary and vocabulary words in context from our three novels read together.
- Optional: learn additional vocabulary words through the Wordly Wise vocabulary curriculum.
Students spend 2-3 weeks on each novel, with a history lecture, passage from the text, and review exercise each week. Three shorter essays and a creative (visual) project are done during the first 8 weeks; then students complete three major projects (research paper, creative story, speech or oral presentation). We end the year with a persuasive essay. Grammar and vocabulary exercises are assigned each week (optional).
Who should apply?
No course prerequisites are required, but students that previously have taken English Foundations 1 or 2 or an equivalent English class are ready for this course. Guidelines for new students include being able to read a 200-300 page novel in 2-3 weeks, able to write a strong paragraph with an opening and closing sentence, and a basic understanding of English grammar. Students should expect to spend more time completing assignments each week than in Mrs. Graybill’s English classes since we are covering two subjects in one class, but certainly less time than what would be spent on two separate subjects.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- headset and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
- Microsoft Word and Power Point is very helpful. If a different word processing program is used, students will need to save or export documents to a pdf.
Evaluation and Feedback
Canvas will automatically grade history review exercises as well as vocabulary quizzes. Rubrics are provided for all writing assignments and extensive feedback is given with an option to further revise all compositions. Communication with students takes place through Canvas and during the live class time. I give challenging unit tests so that students can get a sense whether they might be able to do AP American History in high school, but my tests are just a small percentage of the overall grade so they won’t prevent a student from doing well in the class if everything else is done with good effort.
Parents are welcome to contact me before registering with questions. Once I know a student has registered, the family will receive a welcome packet with additional information about the course. I will contact parents if there is a concern with students not keeping up with the work or frequently turning in late assignments.