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US History Through Cultural Artifacts: Foundations of America (Unit 1/4)

New on Outschool
Unit 1 of 4 unveils the foundational narratives of America by exploring the rich cultures of Indigenous Peoples and the era of Exploration and Colonialism, through a multi-perspective journey enriched by cultural artifacts.

Class experience

US Grade 7 - 9
Beginner Level
16 lessons//8 Weeks
 Week 1
Lesson 1
Diversity of Pre-Contact Indigenous Cultures
Learning Objective: Understand the diversity and complexity of indigenous societies prior to European contact. NCSS Standards: Culture; Time, Continuity, and Change.
Lesson 2
The Impact of First Contacts
Learning Objective: Examine the initial encounters between indigenous peoples and Europeans, focusing on the immediate impacts. NCSS Standards: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; Global Connections.
 Week 2
Lesson 3
Land Appropriation and Building Colonies
Learning Objective: Analyze how European settlers claimed and utilized indigenous lands, including the justifications they used. NCSS Standards: People, Places, and Environments; Power, Authority, and Governance.
Lesson 4
Indigenous Resistance and Adaptation
Learning Objective: Explore indigenous resistance to European encroachment and strategies of adaptation. NCSS Standards: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; Civic Ideals and Practices.
 Week 3
Lesson 5
Cultural Exchanges
Learning Objective: Investigate the cultural exchanges between indigenous peoples and Europeans, highlighting both positive interactions and appropriation. NCSS Standards: Culture; Global Connections.
Lesson 6
Escalation of Conflict
Learning Objective: Examine how initial encounters evolved into conflicts, focusing on key battles and their artifacts. NCSS Standards: Time, Continuity, and Change; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions.
 Week 4
Lesson 7
The Motivations for Exploration
Learning Objective: Understand the motivations behind European exploration and the means by which it was accomplished. NCSS Standards: Time, Continuity, and Change; Science, Technology, and Society.
Lesson 8
Encounters Between Europeans and Indigenous Peoples
Learning Objective: Scrutinize the encounters between Europeans and indigenous peoples, focusing on the immediate and long-term impacts. NCSS Standards: People, Places, and Environments; Culture.
 Week 5
Lesson 9
Establishing Colonies
Learning Objective: Explore the formation of colonial societies and the introduction of the transatlantic slave trade. NCSS Standards: Production, Distribution, and Consumption; Global Connections.
Lesson 10
Life in the Colonies
Learning Objective: Students will investigate daily life in the colonies, considering the roles and experiences of various groups, including settlers, indigenous peoples, and enslaved Africans. NCSS Standards Covered: Time, Continuity, and Change; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions.
 Week 6
Lesson 11
The Impact of Colonialism
Learning Objective: Students will analyze the long-term effects of colonialism on indigenous populations, the environment, and the development of societies in the Americas. NCSS Standards Covered: People, Places, and Environments; Science, Technology, and Society.
Lesson 12
Narratives of Resistance and Adaptation
Learning Objective: Students will explore how indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans resisted colonial policies and adapted to new realities, highlighting their agency and resilience. NCSS Standards Covered: Power, Authority, and Governance; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions.
 Week 7
Lesson 13
Colonial Grievances
Learning Objective: Identify and analyze the series of grievances that led to colonial unrest and the desire for independence, with a focus on how these grievances were influenced by issues of race and slavery. NCSS Standards: Civic Ideals and Practices; Power, Authority, and Governance.
Lesson 14
The Boston Tea Party and Acts of Rebellion
Learning Objective: Students will explore the Boston Tea Party and other acts of rebellion as responses to British policies, analyzing how these acts escalated tensions and united the colonies against British rule. NCSS Standards Covered: Civic Ideals and Practices; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions.
 Week 8
Lesson 15
Emerging Ideals of Liberty
Learning Objective: Explore the emerging ideals of liberty and democracy in the context of a society that included slavery and indigenous displacement, questioning how these ideals applied across different races and classes. NCSS Standards: Civic Ideals and Practices; Individual Development and Identity.
Lesson 16
The First Continental Congress and Calls for Unity
Learning Objective: Students will investigate the formation and outcomes of the First Continental Congress, focusing on the colonies' initial attempts at unity and peaceful resolution of grievances with the British Crown. The session will also cover the shift towards considering more radical solutions, setting the stage for the Revolutionary War. NCSS Standards Covered: Power, Authority, and Governance; Civic Ideals and Practices.
The overarching aim of this course is to provide middle school students with a comprehensive, critical, and engaging exploration of American history through the lens of cultural artifacts. By aligning with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) standards, the course is designed to achieve the following learning goals:

  -  Historical Inquiry and Analysis:
        Develop the ability to ask significant questions about the past and examine historical sources and evidence, including cultural artifacts, to understand historical events and perspectives.

  -  Critical Thinking and Reflection:
        Foster critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret the significance of events, ideas, and movements in the history of the United States, considering multiple perspectives, especially those often marginalized in traditional narratives.

  -  Cultural Understanding and Appreciation:
        Gain a deep appreciation for the rich cultural diversity of the United States, recognizing the contributions and experiences of various groups throughout history.

 -   Empathy and Ethical Reasoning:
        Cultivate empathy by exploring the human stories behind historical events and artifacts, encouraging students to consider ethical questions and the impact of history on individuals and communities.

 -   Civic Knowledge and Engagement:
        Enhance understanding of civic ideals and practices, including governance, citizenship, and democracy, through historical context, preparing students for informed and active participation in civic life.

  -  Geographic Reasoning:
        Utilize spatial concepts and geographical perspectives to analyze historical phenomena and understand how places, environments, and regions have shaped and been shaped by historical events.

 -   Economic Understanding:
        Introduce economic principles and processes, such as production, distribution, and consumption, as they relate to historical developments and the growth of the American economy.

 -   Integration of Technology and Media:
        Equip students with the skills to critically assess and responsibly use technology and media to explore historical content, conduct research, and present their findings.

  -  Collaboration and Communication:
        Promote effective communication and collaboration skills through group projects, discussions, and presentations, enabling students to articulate their ideas and arguments about historical issues clearly and persuasively.

  -  Personal and Intellectual Growth:
        Encourage self-directed learning and intellectual curiosity, motivating students to continue exploring history beyond the classroom and apply their understanding to real-world situations.

These learning goals are crafted to ensure that students not only acquire factual knowledge of American history but also develop the critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and civic engagement skills necessary to become thoughtful, informed, and responsible citizens.
With over a decade of teaching experience in the realms of social sciences, humanities, and the arts, I've dedicated my career to guiding middle and high school students through the rich landscapes of the International Baccalaureate curriculum. My expertise spans across critical analysis of media, cultural studies, politics, and the arts, emphasizing the importance of interpreting and understanding our world through various lenses. Integrating social-emotional learning into my teaching approach, I aim to nurture not only the intellectual but also the emotional development of my students. In the last five years, my journey has evolved into the online teaching space, where I've successfully leveraged digital platforms to foster interactive and immersive learning experiences. My teaching philosophy is centered on creating an inclusive, supportive, and dynamic educational environment, encouraging students to critically engage with a wide array of cultural and political contexts, and inspiring them to appreciate the profound impact of the arts on societal development.
Homework Offered
- Type and Frequency of Homework: Homework assignments will be diverse, designed to enhance understanding of class topics and promote independent exploration of American history through cultural artifacts. Assignments may include short readings, interactive online activities, reflective journal entries, and analysis of specific artifacts. Homework will be assigned at the discretion of the teacher in order to complement a specific class, corresponding with the current unit of study. - Checking for Correctness: Homework will primarily focus on engaging students with the material and encouraging critical thinking, rather than on right or wrong answers. Assignments that require specific factual responses or analysis will be reviewed for understanding and feedback will be provided. For projects and written assignments, rubrics will be used to assess criteria such as comprehension, insight, and effort. - Requirement and Flexibility: While all students are encouraged to complete weekly homework to fully benefit from the course, flexibility will be provided to accommodate different learning styles and outside commitments. Students facing difficulties in keeping up with assignments are encouraged to communicate with the instructor to discuss adjustments or alternative assignments. - Objective: The goal of homework in this course is to deepen students’ engagement with the material, foster a personal connection to historical topics, and develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Homework is not intended to be burdensome but rather an extension of classroom learning that supports students’ intellectual curiosity and growth. This homework policy is designed to support students’ learning journey through "Artifacts of America: A Cultural Journey Through History," balancing the need for independent study with the recognition of each student’s unique circumstances and learning needs.
0 - 1 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Assessments in this online class are designed to enhance understanding rather than to evaluate performance strictly. They will be integrated into class time, providing students with various options to demonstrate their comprehension in a way that makes them comfortable. These assessments, not mandatory, aim to reinforce learning and ensure students grasp the course material. Their flexible, inclusive nature allows students to engage with the content confidently and on their terms, fostering a supportive and adaptive learning environment.
Grades Offered
Grading Options Offered: This course will not utilize traditional letter grades to assess student progress or achievement. Instead, students will receive feedback on assignments and projects that focuses on their understanding, engagement, and improvement over the course of their learning journey. Provision of Grades: Given that no letter grades are offered, there will not be an option to request grades. However, students and parents seeking to understand a student's progress more quantitatively can request a meeting with the instructor to discuss the student's engagement, accomplishments, and areas for growth based on the course's learning objectives. Role of Grades in This Class: Without traditional grading, the emphasis shifts towards holistic learning experiences, personal growth, and mastery of content. This approach encourages students to explore topics deeply, take intellectual risks, and engage with the material without the pressure of achieving a specific letter grade. The primary goal is for students to develop a comprehensive and empathetic understanding of America's complex history through active participation, project completion, and reflection on feedback. In "Artifacts of America: A Cultural Journey Through History," grading is centered around a culminating project due at the course's end, evaluated according to a detailed rubric that measures levels of development across various competencies. While traditional letter grades are not a focus of our course, feedback will emphasize growth, understanding, and engagement. However, recognizing the diverse needs of our learners and their families, we offer the option to request a formal grade based on this project's evaluation. This approach ensures that all students receive meaningful, personalized feedback that supports their learning journey, while also accommodating those who require a grade for external purposes. The role of grades in this class is to facilitate learning and reflection, rather than to serve as the primary measure of student success.
Our class embraces multisensory learning and provides materials in multiple formats to cater to all students. There are also varied ways for students to showcase their understanding in ways that adhere to their learning needs/styles.
No previous requirements. This is a full curriculum on American History.

-    Library of Congress' Students Page (loc.gov/students): Educational resources and primary sources tailored for younger audiences.
-    Smithsonian Learning Lab (learninglab.si.edu): Interactive resources on American history, culture, and artifacts designed for educational purposes.

Other Sources

-    Khan Academy: Offers comprehensive lessons on U.S. history with age-appropriate content and interactive exercises.

Digital Platforms for Interactive Learning

-    Google Arts & Culture: Features virtual tours and online exhibits from museums, with sections specifically curated for educational use by younger students.

These sources aim to make the exploration of American history through cultural artifacts both enlightening and enjoyable for middle school students, encouraging active participation and a lasting interest in the subject matter.
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Classes That... 
Group Class


weekly or $320 for 16 classes
2x per week, 8 weeks
50 min

Live video meetings
Ages: 12-15
2-10 learners per class

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