History 8: Civics and Society


Unit Essential Questions Habits Of Mind Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources Multicultural Dimension Integrated Learning
Foundations: U.S. Civics

*What are the roles and responsibilities United States citizens?
*How are human rights defined and guaranteed in the United States?
*How does reading about human experience inform one's personal choices?
*What are the founding principles of the United States?
*How do citizens choose elected officials?




Habits of mind are at the core of learning. Students are asked to track assignments with care, read and analyze challenging texts, and express themselves in written and oral manner. Students are encouraged to think about who they are and how they fit into society. As they explore the themes of this early-in-the-year unit, they are challenged to explore and reflect on each assignment fully.

*Human Rights are universal; guaranteeing rights is an essential role of government.
*Original texts (Declaration of Independence and Constitution) guide our society.
*Citizens have important roles in governing the U.S.
*Personal history affects how one reacts to issues and voting in elections.
*The Founders' arguements and agreements led to decisions that affect us today.
*Limits on power, three branches of government, and citizen rights are core American ideals.

*Expository writing and critical comment, extending work on paragraphs. Essay writing in 5-paragraph format.
*Reading for meaning. Further development of critical thinking.
*Journaling, reflection, and creative response about all topics, including current court cases and current events.
*Discussion and listening skills.
*Recitiation skills.

*Peer Review
*Oral Presentations
*Paragraph and Essay Rubrics
*Nightly assignments
*One long term project associated with writing and debate concerns a legal controversy.
*Quizzes and tests

1- We the People, a constitution curriculum
2- The Declaration of Independence
3- The Constitution of the United States
4- Current Events; primarily court cases with constitutional issues as the focus.

*Human Rights are intrinsic human values; all world citizens are born with them. How this country has addressed individual rights has influenced others.
*Rights of minority groups and certain cultural groups were not guaranteed at the founding of the American Republic.
*Literature represents points of view of many groups of United States' citizens.

*Students look at iconic American art as a way to see how artists capture American themes.


Global Studies
  • What level of responsibility do Americans have to other cultures and peoples?
  • Who are human rights for and how did the nation's commitment to human rights affect U.S. policies in the 1950s and 1960s? 
  • How did the U.S. emerge as a world power in the 20th century?
  • How does one learn to make personal choices from reading about human experience? 

Habits of mind involve tracking assignments, being prepared for daily discussion, collecting notes in a well organized fashion, and presenting information to the class in a teaching format.

As a result of these studies, students will understand:

  • The roots of the Cold War conflict and its most memorable events.
  • How post-World War II realignments led to the post-Colonial Era and the increase of modern nations.
  • That ongoing issues of daily life in many parts of the world are integrally tied to daily life in the United States
  • How the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 affected world politics
  • Expository writing and critical comment, extending work on paragraphs.
  • Reading for meaning.
  • Journaling, reflection, and creative response about Case Studies. Incorporation of Human Rights work from Fall Term.
  • Discussion and listening skills.
  • Participating fully in Socratic Seminars.

*Peer Review
*Oral Presentations
*Paragraph and Essay Rubrics
*Nightly assignments
*Long term project leading to a class lesson

  • Kampung Boy by Lat ---memoir from Malaysia
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi ---memoir from Iran
  • The Wall by Peter Sis---memoir from Czechoslovakia
  • "A Force More Powerful" video series about the Gandhian motif in 20th century events
  • Global Studies, edited by Erwin Rosenfeld and Harriet Geller
  • Reading packets in preparation for Socratic Seminars

*Using texts from non-American writers
*Malaysian and Iranian text both have Islamic themes.
* Understanding that power can be defined and measured in many different ways.
* Understanding the affect of power on those without it.
* Giving voice to cultures that have been dominated politically/economically by another country.

*In 2011, this unit coincides with the reading of Animal Farm by George Orwell in English class. Orwell based his themes and characters on Cold War era politics as well as on issues around leadership, power, and human rights.

The Holocaust and Human Behavior

*How do people treat each other in a multicultural society?
*What is a government's role and responsibility in protecting human rights for all citizens?
*How does one learn to make personal choices from reading about human experience?
*What causes good government to go terribly wrong?

Students examine human behavior as it relates to the Holocaust during the World War II era. Journal writing helps them explore themes and emotional aspects of the unit. Nightly assignments llok at the history of Weimar period Germany. Each student adopted a Holocaust-related topic and produced a visula presentation for the class. Students were also challenged to recite a portion of a speech by a world leader of the era.

As a result of these studies, students will understand that:

  • European competitiveness in the wake of World War I kept Germany unstable through the 1920s
  • Targeting and stereotyping are commonly utilized forms of propaganda.
  • Antisemitism and other targeting of particular groups continues in the world today.
  • Hitler's rise to power was well coordinated by a passionate group of misguided followers.

*Expository writing and critical comment, beginning with paragraphs
*Reading for meaning and understanding
*Journaling, reflection, and creative response about human rights and personal decision making
*Discussion and listening skills

*Peer Review
*Oral Presentations
*Paragraph and Essay Rubrics
*Nightly assignments
*Long term project about a selected topic

The Holocaust and Human Behavior from Facing History and Ourselves
Self-selected memoirs and novels based on human rights themes
United States Holocaust Museum website
Oregon Jewish Museum and Holocaust Studies Center field trip

*Literature, self-selected by students, covered many ethnic and racial groups.
*Religious scapecoating of a minority faith.


  • English class read The Book Thief during this unit.
  • German Art of the Weimar period was used to illustarte how artists highlighted society's anguish.