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Fight For Knowledge

Download Common Core Adaptable Lesson Plans

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“What’s Past is Prologue”
-William Shakespeare

Critical thought and informed debate are essential to the preservation of democracy. It is the duty of each generation to teach the next how to analyze and interpret history—and how to come to terms with the past, warts and all, to shape a better and more equitable future for people across the world.

Untold History of the United States was designed with those imperatives in mind. The series critiques U.S. foreign policy and domestic politics while paying close attention to history’s “unsung heroes,” people like Henry Wallace and Vasili Arkhipov who all too often fly under the radar of general history curriculum.

At a time when historical instruction is being deemphasized in favor of other, more “testable” disciplines, we have committed ourselves to resisting that unfortunate trend. In doing so, we jettison the well-worn “dates and names” approach to teaching history that so many students abhor. Instead, we believe that historical instruction should allow students to experience, as best they can, the same conflicts that earlier generations had to grapple with.

We believe that students must sympathize with historical actors, that they must put themselves in the shoes of those who came before them in order to better understand the decisions they made and the times in which they made them.

The Untold History Education Project is our attempt to expand upon the narratives that we established throughout the twelve episodes of Untold History of the United States and to elicit critical thinking and debate about them. With the input of educators and historians, we have put together a curriculum guide for the series that expands upon many of the topics covered in the documentary.

The lesson plans contained within the guide are designed to explore in-depth the complex issues raised by the series. They are also designed to focus on certain topics that typically fly beneath the radar, but that are really crucial to understanding the trajectory of twentieth and early twenty-first global history.

Using California eleventh grade U.S. history standards as a guideline, the lesson plans can be easily tailored to fit the standards of any other state curriculum. They can also be adapted for college and university instruction. Each plan contains primary source documents that give context to various topics and voices to the people spotlighted in the documentary. They also contain suggestions for interdisciplinary instruction and dynamic culminating tasks designed with all types of learners in mind. They are designed to get students excited about learning history!

Though each lesson plan does inform the next, it is not necessary to teach each plan in succession. Cognizant of the time constraints that all teachers face, we have designed these plans to be decoupled from the larger guide. As a result, teachers can choose which episodes they wish to share with students and which plans they wish to teach.

We deeply value the feedback and input of teachers, and encourage you to submit suggestions about how we might refine this guide to better address your individual pedagogical philosophies and styles. With this guide, we can work together to deliver students a more textured, dynamic and critical understanding of our collective history.

 

Download lesson plans

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CHAPTER 1: World War II * UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: WORLD WAR II - BLOODIEST WAR IN HUMAN HISTORY * ZINN EDUCATION PROJECT LESSON PLAN: TEACHING THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF JAPANESE LATIN AMERICANS DURING WORLD WAR II
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CHAPTER 2: Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: 1943 DETROIT RACE RIOTS, DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS
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CHAPTER 3: The Bomb * Untold History Lesson Plan: ATOMIC BOMB - HEROIC, TRAGIC AND APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVES; JAPANESE INTERNMENT * Zinn Education Project Lesson Plan: Haiku and Hiroshima-Teaching About the Atomic Bomb REACT to FILM Unit
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CHAPTER 4: The Cold War * UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR - TWO DIFFERENT VISIONS * THE NATION LESSON PACK: THE HISS-CHAMBERS CASE
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CHAPTER 5: The ’50s: Eisenhower, The Bomb & The Third World *UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: REMEMBERING EISENHOWER - A CONFLICTED LEGACY *ROAD TO LITTLE ROCK LESSON PLAN: "LITTLE ROCK NINE"
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CHAPTER 6: JFK: To the Brink * UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: KENNEDY, KHRUSHCHEV AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS * THE NATION LESSON PACK: THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
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CHAPTER 7: Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal Of Fortune * UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: MLK'S "BEYOND VIETNAM" SPEECH * Zinn Education Project Lesson Plan: Rethinking What We Know About Vietnam * THE NATION Lesson Pack: The Roots of the Vietnam War
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CHAPTER 8: Reagan, Gorbachev, & Third World—Rise of the Right UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: FAIRNESS DOCTRINE, HISTORY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY
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CHAPTER 9: Bush & Clinton: Squandered Peace—New World Order * UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: SELLING DOMESTIC POLITICS AND FOREIGN POLICY, WILLIE HORTON AD AND NAYIRAH TESTIMONY CASE STUDIES * THE NATION LESSON PACK: WHO OWNS THE MEDIA?
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CHAPTER 10: Bush II & Obama—Age of Terror *UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: GEORGE W. BUSH'S 2003 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS *ZINN EDUCATION PROJECT LESSON PLAN: WHOSE "TERRORISM?"
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PROLOGUE – CHAPTER A: World War One, The Russian Revolution, & Woodrow Wilson: Roots Of Empire UNTOLD HISTORY LESSON PLAN: President McKinley’s Rationale for U.S. Imperialism and The Untold History of Anti-Imperialism
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Prologue – Chapter B: 1920–1940: ROOSEVELT, HITLER, STALIN: THE BATTLE OF IDEAS *ZINN EDUCATION PROJECT LESSON PLAN: UNEARTHING THE SILENCED VOICES OF THE TULSA RACE RIOTS *THE NATION LESSON PACK: FDR'S FIRST HUNDRED DAYS