American History Through Literature

From: $76.00 / month for 8 months

Grades: 7th–8th

Live class: Mondays 6:30–7:30 p.m. EST

Course dates: August 26th–May 1st

Price: $525

Instructor:  Beverly Graybill

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Course Description

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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.

Students will:

  • 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  • Take regular tests covering historical content, as well as English concepts.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.

Course Structure

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.

Technology Requirements:

  • 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.

Required Texts

Course Materials:

Parents must purchase:

  • The Making of America: The History of the United States from 1492 to the Present by Robert D. Johnston (National Geographic), Revised Edition, 2010. ISBN: 9781426306631
  • Rules of the Game (Grammar through Discovery), Book 2, by Mary Page, Peter Guthrie, Sloan Sable (Educators Publishing Service). ISBN: 9780838822395

Novels (Any version is fine):

(Parents may decide to purchase these or use your local library, if you can keep the book for at least 3 weeks and have it at the needed time.)

  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James and Christopher Collier
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • Code Talkers: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac

The other 11 books (biographies, historical fiction, or nonfiction) should be chosen from a list of suggested titles for each event or time period we cover. I will email this list to the parent once the student is registered for the class.  You are most welcome to use library books, rather than purchasing all of these books.

Optional: If you would like more vocabulary to be part of the English work, you may purchase ONE of the following:

  • Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book 7 Fourth Edition

Educators Publishing Service Fourth Edition, 2017      ISBN: 978-08388-7707-4


  • Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book 8 Fourth Edition

Educators Publishing Service Fourth edition, 2017      ISBN: 978-08388-7708-1




  1. Zainab Mohammed

    Taking this class has improved my knowledge of History and my writing skills. Mrs. Graybill has been a great teacher. She always responded whenever I needed help. When she came to my city, I had the great pleasure of meeting her. She is awesome in person and behind a computer screen. I would highly Recommend this class to other homeschoolers who are looking to take English and History.

  2. Kiersten Todd

    Mrs. Graybill is a very nice teacher. She cares about how I am doing on my schoolwork and helps me improve. I really enjoy having her as a teacher and would definitely recommend this class to other homeschoolers. Also, the assignments are doable but not too easy.

  3. Ying-ya Shey (verified owner)

    The above review is from Nicholas Shey.

  4. Ying-ya Shey (verified owner)

    American History through Literature is a very interesting class that I would definitely recommend to other students. It helped me with my grammar and my punctuation, and I also learned about literature. I especially enjoyed the papers, as I could learn how to write better while also learning history. Mrs. Graybill is very friendly and engaging. Overall, I am glad that this class exists so that I can learn several subjects in only one class.

  5. Rebecca Klabunde (verified owner)

    I love that this “2-for-1” class exists at AIM, allowing my student to cover two courses at once! Mrs Graybill is a very thoughtful, engaging teacher who really wants to see her students succeed. She is also very approachable and prompt in all communication. (I especially recommend her class for any students who are new to online learning as she is very understanding of her students’ needs and highly encourages them along the way!)

  6. Ligia Qahoush (verified owner)

    This is my 13-year-old son’s first on-line class and he is loving it. Mrs. Graybill is a great teacher and my son looks forward to attending her class every Monday. He wouldn’t even miss it when we were living overseas a couple of months ago and the class started at 11 pm for us because of the fall Daylight Saving Time. The class is rigorous and challenging but not overwhelming. She has been prompt in answering any questions that we had, especially when we registered for the class about one year ago. She was also flexible and helpful regarding our particular situation and I really appreciated that about Mrs. Graybill. It is wonderful that this class is literature based; I love to see my son reading all the books, and enjoying them and being challenged by them. He has also learned from the special projects and writing assignments that have been assigned throughout the year. This class has been a blessing to us and I definitely recommend it to others.

  7. Aaron Shey (student) (verified owner)

    This class expanded my knowledge of both history, vocabulary and grammar very much, and the live lectures were both educational and captivating. The quizzes helped me remember all the knowledge, and the creative assignments made this class much more then rote memorization of facts. Overall, I think American History through Literature prepared me very well for future classes and I highly recommend this class for other students.

  8. Ying-ya Shey (parent) (verified owner)

    This class is a true blessing to our family and contribute greatly to my son’s knowledge in both History and Writing. At the beginning of the class, he was having a challenging time adjusting to the rigor of the material. After some hard work and great support from Mrs. Graybill, he began to blossom and truly took pride of his work and learning. The lecture is always very informative and tests/quizzes enables the student to reach new height of his understanding. The assignments are creative and serves as a spring board for further studying such as the poetry assignment. He has since composed 70 poems more. We highly recommend this class, it is definitely worth the tuition and I consider it a bargain.

  9. Lynnea Hameloth

    Our family has been blessed by being taught by Mrs. Graybill for many years and she always makes the classes fun and also very “meaty” in what the kids learn. My kids have learned so much from her style of teaching and she does a fabulous job making history “come alive” and makes it interesting. She is great at communicating what needs done and what books you will need for the classes. Having a combined history and english together is just awesome.

  10. Carrie Clarke

    While my child has not taken this particular class through AIM, he has taken similar classes from Mrs.Graybill through a “live” co-op. In fact, my son has taken classes from Bev Graybill for four years in a row because we have found her teaching to be outstanding. Her classes are rigorous, but her explanations and expectations are clear and well communicated. The assignments are creative, and we love the fact that history and English are combined so effectively. She is one of our favorite teachers from our 20+ years of homeschooling experience.

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Instructor Bio

Bev Graybill

Beverly holds a B.S. in Special Education, a M.S. in Elementary Education, and a Reading Certificate from Millersville University.  She has taught in public/private schools for 6 years, has 10 years of experience teaching middle school English at a weekly homeschool co-op in Pennsylvania, and 20 years of experience home schooling her own four children, three of which have graduated.  Her passion is teaching middle school students that writing, literature, and even grammar can be fun!

Middle School Tools: A
Middle School Tools: B
American History Through Literature


All classes taught by Bev Graybill