• Lesson 3: James Madison: Raising an Army: Balancing the Power of the States and the Federal Government

    James Madison.

    Not everyone in the U.S. supported the War of 1812. What events during Madison's presidency raised constitutional questions? What were the constitutional issues? Where did Madison stand?

  • "Esperanza Rising": Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over

    Mexican woman farm laborer picking tomatoes in a California field, 1938.

    In this lesson students will look behind the story at the historical, social, and cultural circumstances that help account for the great contrasts and contradictions that Esperanza experiences when she moves to California. The lesson also invites students to contemplate some of the changes Esperanza undergoes as she grows from a pampered child into a resourceful and responsible young woman.

  • Mission Nuestra Señora de la Concepción and the Spanish Mission in the New World

    Mission Nuestra Señora de la Concepción de Acuña, San Antonio, Texas, 1755.  Convento and church at dusk.

    In this Picturing America lesson, students explore the historical origins and organization of the Spanish missions in the New World, and discover the varied purposes these communities of faith served.

  • Lesson 2: Slavery's Opponents and Defenders

    Idyllic cartoon of slaves thanking their master for taking care of them

    This lesson plan will explore the wide-ranging debate over American slavery by presenting the lives of its leading opponents and defenders and the views they held about America's "peculiar institution."

  • Lesson 1: The Monroe Doctrine: U.S. Foreign Affairs (circa 1782–1823) and James Monroe

    Portrait of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States, by Gilbert  Stuart.

    What was the Monroe Doctrine? What principles of foreign policy did this Doctrine establish? What were the significant events in U.S. diplomacy before 1823? What diplomatic roles had James Monroe played before he became president? Here, a careful examination of the document anticipates what is to come.

  • Pioneer Values in Willa Cather's "My Antonia"

    Portrait of Willa Cather from the Carl Van Vechten collection,

    Students learn about the social and historical context of Willa Cather’s My Antonia and work in groups to explore Cather's commentary on fortitude, hard work, faithfulness, and other values that we associate with pioneer life.

  • Metaphorical Gold: Mining the Gold Rush for Stories

    Bound for the Klondike gold fields. Chilkoot Pass, Alaska.

    Explore the Alaskan Gold Rush by "mining" EDSITEment resources for primary texts and period photographs. Just as writer Jack London discovered "metaphorical gold" in the Yukon, students can search several online databases for period details that will enhance their own narratives based on the Gold Rush era.

  • Lesson 1: From the President's Lips: The Concerns that Led to the Sedition (and Alien) Act

    John Adams.

    What conditions provided the impetus for the Sedition Act? Partisan animosity was strong during Adams's presidency. The first two political parties in the U.S. were in their infancy—the Federalists, to which the majority of members of Congress belonged, and the Democratic-Republicans, led by former vice-president Thomas Jefferson and four-term Congressman James Madison, who had left the House in 1796.

  • Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask

    Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)

    In this lesson, students analyze Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson’s Harlem Renaissance poem “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s late-nineteenth-century poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896), considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration.

  • Mapping Colonial New England: Looking at the Landscape of New England

    A Dutch Map of the English colonies in North America around 1685 with an inset  view of New Amsterdam.

    The lesson focuses on two 17th-century maps of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to trace how the Puritans took possession of the region, built towns, and established families on the land. Students will learn how these New England settlers interacted with the Native Americans, and how to gain information about those relationships from primary sources such as maps.