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Lay a strong foundation for your U.S. History course with this kick-off project-based unit that examines the FORE American values (Freedom, Opportunity, Representation, and Equality) by exploring the ideas and contributions of the Founding Fathers as well as activists throughout the 1700s and 1800s who have all contributed to America’s thriving story of liberty, democracy, and success.
Featuring the voices of
Puritans & Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine
Women’s rights activists Abigail Adams and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
African American rights activists Frederick Douglass and W.E.B Du Bois
The societal questioner, Henry David Thoreau
The peace-offering Chief Joseph
>>> 20 voices total to create a custom pick-and-choose unit!
By the end of this unit, your students will be able to
- Analyze written and art primary sources using two effective methods
- Utilize source-based evidence to support a claim in a DBQ essay
- Evaluate uses of ethos, logos, and pathos to write own persuasive letters
- Locate and analyze current news media sources to make thematic connects between historical and current events
>>> Highly scaffolded, basic historical and source skill building, perfect for the first unit of the school year!
Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit-At-A-Glance.
Or try out this FREE Art Analysis Lesson from the Representation section of this unit.
Greatness is realizing a goal is useless without a detailed plan and committed actions.
The small collection of white, upper-class men of the late 1700s who make up the “Founding Fathers” seem to get all the glory of founding this exceptional nation. While their work is worthy of considerable recognition, is it at the expense of the brown, the female, and otherwise disenfranchised Americans? The men and women who took that original goal and fought to turn it into a real action plan of democracy to which the rest of the world looks to for guidance?
Take your students on a quest through our foundational first century (Independence through the late 1800s) exploring various spotlights on visionaries and activists while asking students to decide, “Who really then deserves the credit for founding America’s values?”
Leave the boring chronological textbook behind and head straight to the compelling sources that make this question central to our pride and identity as Americans.
Also, empower your students to develop their value-based SMART Goal and Action Plan Project for themselves using the lessons learned from Founding Fathers who struggled to implement their vision and the persuasive appeal, committed words of activists who accomplished those ideals.
The beauty of a thematic unit is your freedom to mix-and-match, add-and-subtract: each activity is self-contained, allowing for complete customization to meet local standards, time restraints, and interests.
This unit can be done well in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
Included in this complete unit:
>>> Teacher Materials <<<
- 2-Page Unit-At-A-Glance to provide your administrator or parents
- Unit Overview & 11 pages of Daily Lesson Plans from the unit hook to the final assessment
- Answer keys and rubrics (both CCSS-aligned and generic)
- 75-slide editable PowerPoint slideshow with portraits, links, and student directions
>>> Student Materials & Activities <<<
Focused Skill Mini-Lessons and Handouts
- Annotating a text
- Categorizing sources as Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary
- Writing appositive clauses sentences
- Maximizing various search databases
- Creating annotated citations
Note Taking & Schema Building Activities
- Log Notes graphic organizer sheet for deeper unit-long understanding
- Concept Definition sheet to develop a nuanced understanding of "value"
- Unit Hook analysis of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spring 2017 speech
6 Historical Spotlights
- Current Day group brainstorm and discussion activity to introduce the FORE American values / News research and analysis activity to connect values with current events
- Foundational Visionaries Puritans / Thomas Paine / Thomas Jefferson / Constitution Conventioneers
- Freedom Fighters Benjamin Banneker / Frederick Douglass / Jourdan Anderson / W.E.B. Du Bois
- Opportunity Fighters Molly Wallace / Mary Lease / Russell Conwell / Emma Lazarus
- Representation Fighters Abigail Adams / Dorothea Dix / Henry David Thoreau / Terence V. Powderly
- Equality Fighters: Michel-Guillaume-Jean De Crevecoeur / Elizabeth Cady Stanton / Lucy Stone / Chief Joseph
- Document-Based Essay, supported by outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics (CCSS-aligned and generic), answering the not-so-simple question, “Who really founded America's values?"
- SMART Goal, Action Plan, & Reflective Persuasive Letter Project project directions, template, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic) based on your students' own core values
Note to Homeschoolers
Though the included teacher lesson plans and PPT slides are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this unit is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:
- the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized sources are included; nothing needs to be purchased to supplement
- this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Want the mini version of this?
U.S. History PBL Mini-Unit: SMART Goals in America's Foundations include student notes sheets, two Visionary documents, one of each FORE value documents, and complete project. Makes a fantastic beginning-of-the-year project!
Want more U.S. History PBL Units?
Six Degrees of Separation: kick off a study of our country’s political and physical features with a “Flat Stanley” style project
1900s American Immigration: explore the American story of diversity and hard work through the words and statistics of immigrants, Ellis Island to Angel Island, to create and preserve an oral history of their own
1900s Protest Movements: be inspired by Silent Sentinels to Alcatraz Occupiers to develop one’s own statement of protest or support
1900s American Heroes: explore what it means to be a hero from Madam CJ Walker to John Glenn in order to nominate one’s own hero for recognition
What to go entirely PBL?
U.S. History PBL Course Mega Bundle: get all posted PBL resources in one download and save big!