National Center for History in Schools Publishes Four New Teaching Units

AHA Staff, March 2001

The National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA is announces the publication of 4 new teaching units. Each unit is based on primary sources, taken from government documents, artifacts, journals, diaries, newspapers, magazines, literature, contemporary photographs, paintings, and other art from the period under study. Within each unit you will find: Teaching Background Materials, including Unit Overview, Unit Context, Correlation to the National Standards for History Unit Objectives, and an introduction to the unit with background historical information, a "Dramatic Moment," and Lesson Plans with Student Resources. Each unit focuses on certain key moments in time and should be used as a supplement to your customary course materials. Although each unit is recommended for certain grade levels, they can be adapted for other grade levels. For more information please check out our website http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs or call (310) 825-4702.

The Atlantic Slave Trade. 70 pages, Grades 7–12. This teaching unit, complete with student readings and maps, examines the origins of the Atlantic slave trade, the role of both Europeans and Africans, the Middle Passage, and the differences and similarities between slavery in the Americas and Africa. Students examine 17th- and 18th-century documents supporting and opposing the slave trade. These include a 1612 proposal to the King of Portugal regarding slaver, readings from Olaudah Equiano's classic description of Middle Passage experience, and the work of British reformers seeking to outlaw the trade. Students engage in debates over the legality of slavery using documents from the historical era. A role-playing activity involves them in a mutiny during the Middle Passage.

Avenging Angel? John Brown, The Harpers Ferry Raid and the "Irrepressible" Conflict 109 pages, Grades 9–12

The lessons in this unit explore Brown from both perspectives. The unit includes two readers' theater scripts drawn from primary sources to relate the Harpers Ferry raid and its aftermath. Scripts incorporate the words of John Brown members of the "Secret Six" who financed Browns' abolitionist crusade, and remarks by prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Frederick Douglass. Other documents in this unit include excerpts from Robert E. Lee's report on the capture of John Brown, the Mason Senate Committee report investigating the Harpers Ferry raid, and an exchange of letters between Lydia Maria Child and the Governor Wise of Virginia. The unit also has students examine photographs, engravings, and artwork depicting John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid.

Kongo: A Kingdom Divided. 65 pages, Grades 7–12. The story of the meeting between the Kongo Kingdom and strangers from distant Portugal is both riveting and tragic. Located in West Central Africa, Kongo was a large and prosperous state when the first Portuguese ships arrived in 1483. Relations between the king of Kongo and Portugal started out well but later degenerated as both European and African profiteers turned their attention to the Atlantic slave trade. This unit investigates one of the most engrossing cases of first encounter between two peoples in early modern times. In addition to vivid primary source documents and a simulation activity, the unit includes short pieces of historical fiction that the authors, both high school teachers, wrote to accompany five of the six lessons.

Asian Immigration to the United States. Forthcoming, Grades 9–12

This teaching unit consists of five lessons that examine laws regulating Asian immigration, including the landmark 1965 act, global forces affecting immigration, and anecdotal accounts of motivations of immigrants. Students work with charts and graphs showing the ebb and tide of immigration and participate in a simulation formulating a sound immigration policy for the 21st century. The unit sets the experience of Asian immigration in the wider context of the general immigrant experience. It is designed to augment other chapters in recent American history by both presenting information and by engaging students in activities that help them understand factors which affect migration, bring about social change, and influence United States policy. The unit raises issues about diversity and democracy, capitalism and economic opportunity, racism and discrimination, property rights and citizenship rights, all of which are critical to full and broad understanding of our common heritage as Americans.