Category Archives: US History 2

Slavery, Then and Now

Note for APUSH students: I’ve made and used this post before to help my other students research slavery. I know it will help you as well. Let me know if you have any questions. Please feel free to comment.

Note for US2 students: In order to understand racism, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement, let’s look at how it started – with slavery. Now think: which came first, racism or slavery?

Slavery is one of the worst chapters in American history, but understanding it – or attempting to – helps us learn more about ourselves and the world we live in today.   In US History I, we’ve taken a good, hard look at slavery – then and now.  We’ve learned that there were over 35,000 recorded slave voyages, that slave women had all of their children forced into slavery, and that slavery still exists in the world today for over 27 million people.  There’s so much more too.  We’ve learned about slavery through the personal stories of Harriet Jacobs, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Louis Hughes, and more.  These real stories make the story so much more personal.

More than memorizing facts and dates, we’re learning as a class to ask deep questions about then and now.  Why did the majority of presidents before Lincoln own slaves?  Why did Thomas Jefferson father slave children?  Why did George Washington not free his slaves while he was alive?  What is the relationship between slavery and racism?  Which cam first?  How did it end?  How cane racism end?  What keeps people in slavery today?  Who is fighting to free people from slavery today?  What can we do about it today?

Here’s some of the sites we’ve used so far.  Click on the picture to go to the site, and let me know what you think about the information inside, or any questions you have.  Thanks.

Harvard Anyone? WW2 Class

Yes, this is a free online course that I discovered from Harvard University!  If you’ve ever wondered if your high school teachers were lying to you about all of those ‘…when you get to college…’ and ‘…you will need this in college…’, well, check it out.

This website is one of many that I discovered on a VERY cool blog called, Open Culture.  On their site was, among other really cool things, a list of free courses.  Scrolling down the page brought me to a video lecture series on World War 2.  How cool!  We’re going over that right now!

So about the site…

It’s called the Open Learning Initiative from the Harvard Extension School.  The lecturer is Charles S. Maier, PhD, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University.  He offers 24 lectures on World War 2.  If you love the stories and details of this war, then this is the site for you.  What’s very innovative and useful about the lectures is that while the video appears on the left of the screen, there’s a PDF viewer on the right with all of the notes, images, graphs, charts, etc. that the professor refers to, as he refers to it.  You can read his notes and follow along while listening to his lecture.  It’s awesome and FREE!

Let me know what you think.  If anyone wants extra credit for viewing these lessons, who am I to say no?  Hm.  Harvard lectures for extra credit at New Bedford High School… I like the sound of that.

NAZI’s Given ‘Haven’ in US

As students, history is made each day around us – although we often don’t notice or reflect on it.  Now we have a chance…  The New York Times reported today that NAZI’s were given ‘Safe Haven’ in the US.   This shocking assertion follows previous reports and histories conducted by the CIA exposing their potential involvement. The article begins…

A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

This ‘secret history’ is a 600 page report from the Department of Justice titled, ‘Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust’ that the New York Times obtained and published on their website today.  The Times also published an interactive viewer that compares the full version of the report with a previous edited version.  With scrolling side-by-side windows, you can look at what was omitted and why.

To get to the heart of the matter, Chapter 5 of the report, titled, ‘Alleged US Support for NAZI’s Entering the US’, begins with these extremely important questions:

Whether the United States helped persecutors enter the country has implications for our nation in terms of the values it may reflect. Did we knowingly permit major or even minor Nazi persecutors to enter, and if so, what justification was given? At what level within the government was there legal and moral authority to advance such a policy? And have efforts made to conceal such activities from the public in order to advance some perceived higher national good?

These questions have a great deal of weight, especially for high school students learning about the US role in World War 2.  The beginning paragraph continues:

OSI did not originally conceive its mission as including the need to answer these questions. But it was inexorably drawn to the issues when subjects argued that they were in the country at the behest, or with the knowledge, of the United States – allegedly in return for information or services supplied to the government during or after the war. OSI learned that some persecutors were indeed knowingly granted entry. America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well. Some may view the government’s collaboration with persecutors as a Faustian bargain. Others will see it as a reasonable moral compromise borne of necessity.

These last two sentences form an essential question.  Which side do you take?

Civil Rights Movement

More often than not, it has been the people of this nation, not it elected representatives, generals, judges, etc. to elevate our nation above the mistakes of its past.  The Civil War ended slavery, but did not end racism and inequality.  For almost 100 years later, that struggle continued.  Now we are learning about it in US History 2 class.

Before we begin, let’s take a look at race as a concept. There’s a lot people that think they know about race. Let’s look at science, actual historical evidence, and ourselves to learn about how race is an illusion and is socially constructed. That means racism and the concept of race is not born with us. It is taught.

But how has it been taught in America? To learn that, we need to learn the history of slavery and segregation. Two of the best sites on these topics are below.

Now, we begin with some context, and then heard the stories of the murder of Emmitt Till, the Little Rock 9, and the Nashville Sit Ins.  All of these stories were told from the perspectives of the people there – as documented in the award winning film, Eyes on the Prize.

Then, timed with the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides of 1961, we explored the issues, met the people, and felt the struggle for equal protection under the law concerning African Americans and white college students who volunteered to ride together on buses, as the Supreme Court allowed, into the deep south.  This powerful story was told by American Experience, as a documentary in May 2011.

Finally, we compared the incredible rhetoric and the persuasive methods of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in their response to the struggle for equality, justice and freedom.  When we examined Dr. King, we heard from his own words and actions about the need of nonviolence and love to be central to his position on integration.  From those who knew him, selections from the American Experience’s Citizen King were very moving.

Students quickly learned that Malcolm X was very, very different than Dr. King.  His ‘naked honesty’ concerning the oppression of African Americans and his segregationist position (when in the Nation of Islam) troubled many students, while they found his personality and rhetoric profoundly appealing.  The American Experience’s Malcolm X: Make it Plain allowed students to see and hear him in his own words.

Now we will prepare our debate between the message and methods of Dr. King, Malcolm X and the greater issues behind the Civil Rights Movement.



MFA Assignment 2011

We’re going! The Boston Museum of Fine Arts awaits us today! There are so many things to say about why museums are important to us and society, but I think I’ll save them for the bus ride. :) Here’s the assignment:

Note: If you did not go on the field trip, you have to complete the assignment online using the British Museum’s ‘History of the World in 100 Objects‘. Pick your pieces of art by scrolling through their timeline. Message me on Schoology or email me if you have any problems. Thanks.

MFA Field Trip 10/28

The field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts has been rescheduled, as you know, to October 28th, which is next Friday. I am going to submit all of my paperwork to the school by the end of this week. There is no cost to students. The MFA has offered to pay both your admission and your bus fee.

Please click here for a list of students who have turned in their forms so far.

Please fill out this survey


Learning from the Vietnam War

What lessons does the Vietnam War have for America today?  When studying the skills and values of leaders, what questions must we ask about the decisions and policies of this conflict?  Browse the sites below to gain an understanding of some dimensions of this complex undeclared war.  Let me know what you think, and feel free to suggest other sites for students to examine here.

Viewer discretion is advised for the video compilation below.  There is graphic depiction of war violence.

Unit Guides & Flip

Each week I hand out to my students these unit guides. For those who miss school, or for parents who may want to see what we are doing, I am posting them here.

The Format

Each unit guide has an outline set up by decade (mostly). Each decade has topics chosen for the class to address and these have been marked out in the textbook, as far as the pages are concerned. There are note terms for students to keep in their notebooks as we cover them in class.

The students then have ID terms to study, websites to visit for interactive information and research, RAFT (role, audience, format and topic) assignments to do for homework, and essay questions to prepare for when tests approach.

The Unit Guides (so far)

Please click on the images to go to the PDF version of the unit guides. Please also feel free to give me feedback on the setup, style and content for each one. I use this as a pacing guide for me as well as a work guide for students. It’s a continual work in progress. I’ve included unit guides for the 2000’s, 1990’s, 1980’s, 1970’s, 1960’s (war), and 1960’s (civil rights).

The Flip

This is how I used to deliver content in the past. This year, I am planning on doing things differently. I have been researching the flipped classroom method, and I believe I am ready to begin. This means that students won’t have me spend a significant part of class delivering content, but rather, they will have access to the notes online (and on their smartphones).

Here’s my post on the flipped classroom. You can see examples of the flip in my wife’s APBIO class here. This is my first attempt. My US2 additions are coming ASAP. :)


Becoming a 70’s Expert

Disco. Ugh. There’s a lot that’s really interesting about the 1970’s but disco is definitely not it. Besides that stuff, there’s a great deal of change going on in the nation. Let’s talk about some of them here. (By the way, continue your research far beyond these beginning links, please.)

Our task is to become an expert on three areas (five for Honors) of the 1970’s. You pick. You also pick how you want to demonstrate your mastery. Impress me. We’ll work on ways to be creative with this project in class.