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What happens when an 8th grade English class and an 8th grade US history class is merged and both teachers? present history and language arts side by side? The arrangement allowed the teaching of an understanding of the history of the United States through the writing of persuasive and informative papers, play acting, researching historical documents, and observing/questioning a variety of guest speakers, all the while reaching an understanding of a formula that drives the success of our democracy. We embodied a specialized formula for teaching an understanding of American history in the Ten Historical Principles That Power the United States of America. In addition, every language arts lesson, from grammar/vocabulary to essay construction to poetry to dramas put on in the laboratory, revolved around understanding and commenting on early U.S. history. These comments were derived from the rich literature available to our students and us. Our purpose, as language arts and history teachers, was to present what we felt were the ten historical principles that are best articulated from literature as to what makes the United States the powerful nation it is today. We both felt that history could be more readily understood when it was seen in the clear, hard light of modern concepts derived from historical literature. Since we were both trained as language arts and history teachers, we have strong views on the relationship of literature and its use in teaching history. After having our students put on the plays, The Man Without a Country and The Devil and Daniel Webster, most of them commented in essays how history had "come alive" for them. Finally, we use the ten principles to encourage students to examine other nations and former empires to see if they will continue to succeed or why they failed. We teach that violating 8 of the 10 principles is a receipe for dissolution.
This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2009-08-15.
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