This literature-based history class integrates the study of 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- Take regular tests covering historical content, as well as English concepts.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.
A suggested schedule of assignments is given each week, but students are welcome to adapt the schedule to what works best for them. Students usually have two-three weeks to read each novel. In the beginning of the year, students write three shorter essays (two weeks for each) and prepare a visual (creative) project (eight weeks total). Later, they have 6-7 weeks to work on the major projects (research paper, speech, and short story). Several grammar exercises are assigned each week, and parents also have the option of including vocabulary exercises from Wordly Wise each week, too.
Who should apply?
There are no course prerequisites are required, but students that previously have taken Middle School Tools A or B are ready for this course. Guidelines for new 7th-8th grade students include being able to read a 200-300 page novel in 2-3 weeks, being able to write a strong paragraph with an opening and closing sentence, and a basic understanding of English grammar (especially parts of speech and some punctuation and capitalization). 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
Rubrics are provided for the essays and major projects so that students know exactly what is expected. Canvas will automatically grade the history review lessons and vocabulary quizzes; other assignments will take a few days for me to grade. On the essays and major projects, students are given the option of improving them based on my feedback and re-submitting the work for a better grade. Communication with students take place through Canvas and during the live class time.
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.