Five Ways to Teach About Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson is one of the most important figures in US history. In fact he's the only person to have an era named for him: The Age of Jackson.

As a result, you want to make sure you cover the essential understandings students are going to need to know about the Andrew Jackson presidency based on your state standards, but also make your lessons engaging and hands on so students really connect with the material.

I spend about 2-3 weeks on the Age of Jackson in my American History classes. We look at the rise of the Common Man, Spoils System, the Indian Removal Act, Nullification Crisis, Jackson's war on the National Bank, and other important events of the period.

Here are five awesome activities that you might want to use to teach about Andrew Jackson:

1) Jackson & Adams Campaign Songs

Jackson and John Quincy Adams had two contentious presidential elections in 1824 and 1828.  In the 1828 election, each had a theme song that they used her campaign events. These campaign...

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Fake News Lesson Plan

One of the most important things kids need to learn now in social studies is about Fake News”. Obviously, you hear about Fake News all the time. It dominates social media and the news outlets.

Kids need to be able to recognize what is fake news, what is real news, and how can you tell the difference. This is a 21st century skill that every kid needs to learn in high school. It's so important for our society to teach these kinds of skills so that kids can graduate with the ability to be informed citizens.

I teach this lesson about fake news in both my US history and my American government classes.

I love this lesson because it connects students to fake news in history from the Yellow Journalism era of the late 1800’s early 1900s’ in American history and also the fake news of today.

The Lesson Plan

I start the lesson off with a warm-up cartoon from the yellow journalism era and ask students to interpret it. Then we look at for glaring examples of fake news from...

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Civil Rights Movement Timeline Activity

The Civil Rights Movement is one of my favorite eras to teach in US History. There's so many compelling stories and it's easy for students to connect with the young people advocating for change in American society.

There's also a lot of events to cover. A great way to either introduce students to the era or review the Civil Rights Movement as a whole is with a timeline. This gives students a broad perspective of what was going on and how long it took from Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks first refusing to give up their seats in Montgomery until the Civil Rights Act finally ended segregation. 

I use this set of timeline activities in my US History classes

First, students paste into their notebooks a 2-page timeline that covers the height of the Civil Rights era. Once completed, it will look like this:

Students respond to the prompts for each event after reading short overviews that are placed at stations around the room. The 10 events we cover in this timeline are:

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American Revolution Timeline Activity

Some of the most important concepts for students to understand about the American Revolution are the causes and events leading to the war and then the battles and key events that took place during the Revolutionary War.

Timeline activities are perfect to help students grasp the significance of each of these and are a great in-class activity. I combine activities that students complete in cooperative learning groups, digital timelines that kids work on with computers, and teacher-directed overviews of the most import events. This way, you ensure that students have a thorough understanding of each significant event of the Revolutionary War era. 

The first activity students complete is a cooperative learning activity where students read about and sort 10 events on a two-page interactive timeline. The activity includes PDF printable cards about each of the following events:

The Enlightenment, Salutary Neglect, The French & Indian War, Proclamation of...

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Analyzing Eisenhower's People to People Program for Peace

This great new lesson for a Cold War unit in US History covers President Eisenhower's People to People Program. I created it because I found I spent most of my unit on war, paranoia, & civil strife and wanted to a lesson on what America did to promote peace and positivity.  That lead to an Essential Question for this lesson of: “What did the US do to promote peace during the Cold War and what more can be done today?”

The download includes multiple primary source documents from different program committees on music, sports, books, business, education, and more. Students then work on a brief Project Based Learning (PBL) activity to develop their own plans to promote peace and cultural connections in the world today! 

In addition to a full lesson plan detailing how to conduct the whole lesson, you also get ALL of these great pieces as well:

Speech excerpt from President Eisenhower & analysis worksheet
Project introduction page
9 primary...

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Social Studies Interactive Notebooks

Among my favorite activities to do in all of my social studies classes are interactive notebook pages! I have used them successfully for years in Civics, World, and US History (you can download some free pages using the green download button to the right). 

History Alive was one of the early leaders in promoting the use of Interactive Notebooks in social studies classes. Now, they have grown to become a staple of many teachers' middle and high school classrooms. And for good reason - they work! 

Interactive Notebooks and journals are an amazing tool to help students engage with your history content and make better connections with the material. There's also lots of different ways they can be used based on your teaching style and your students' needs/ability levels. 

Some teachers like to use them as guided notes with their PowerPoints. Students cut and paste the pages into their journals and as you progress through the content in the presentation,...

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Social Studies Worksheets for Middle School

If you are a middle school social studies teacher, I have a TON of awesome worksheets and resources to use in your classroom! No matter if it's US History, World History, or Civics, our site is your "go-to" for engaging 21st Century activities! 

As I'm sure you know, middle school students need a variety of activities to keep them engaged. You can't rely on doing the same thing every day and expect students to stay interested. That's not to say that worksheets aren't effective, however. They are a great way to introduce primary sources, promote reading and writing, and gauge student understanding.

Our curricula include a variety of activities, so each day is a little different, even while you keep students on a routine to manage their behavior. For example, one day they might be going through a primary or secondary source in groups, the next day in mixed pairs, or individually.

All of our worksheets for our lessons are clear, with easy-to-follow directions and engaging...

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Civil War Timeline for Battles Project

One of the biggest topics in US History that you'll be covering is the Civil War. In my American History curriculum, I spend at least 10 block classes on it which comes out to about a month. 

Before we get into the battles of the war, students create an interactive timeline of the events leading up to secession. These include John Brown's raid, the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dred Scott Decision, and other key events.

Students read about each and decide if it pleased Northerners or Southerners and then place it above or below the timeline based on their analysis of it: 

Next, we'll spend several classes looking at the major Civil War Battles, especially Ft. Sumter, Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Sherman's March, and Appomattox. Students create a Civil War timeline of battles and events in their notebooks and also an annotated map of the war with notes about the key battles and events.  

The annotated map features a 2-page spread in their notebooks with...

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US History Textbook Activities

Do you use a textbook in your US history classes? If so, I have a TON of amazing resources that will work perfectly with your textbook but are far more interactive, rigorous, and engaging than any supplemental resources you may currently have. 

In 10+ years teaching American History, I created my own lesson plans and activities that engaged my students, had them critically analyze history, and were creative so they were never bored with regular textbook materials.

These resources are amazing for 8th grade United States History but also work well from 7th grade to 10th grade or 11th grade as well. 

Now, you can use ALL of these amazing resources in your American History classes! I have organized all of them perfectly into lesson plans and units for the entire school year in US History. You can download a PDF of free activities here and test them out for yourself!

The resources in our complete US History curriculum include: 

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Juneteenth History Lesson Plan

This awesome lesson on the holiday Juneteenth is an excellent resource to use in your classroom! It's perfect for a Civil War or Reconstruction unit, to help students better understand the African-American Holiday, or to use during Black History Month!  

The download features a detailed lesson plan, links to videos on Juneteenth, a worksheet, and both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include excerpts from interviews with former slaves, historical images of Emancipation Day and Juneteeth celebrations, and James Weldon Johnson's famous Black National Anthem.

In the lesson, students craft an essential question then gather evidence to support an answer to it. This can be done through a station rotation, in cooperative learning groups, or individually, or online with the included Google Docs version. Finally, there's also suggested food and drink options for a Juneteenth celebration! 

You can download this lesson here OR you can join Students of...

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