8th Grade U.S. History

2012-2013 Assessment Pacing and Instructional Resources

Below are the major units and pacing for the 2012-2013 school year.  Also included are this year's two writing assessment questions, the implementation windows, and dates for distrrict wide scoring sessions. 
Instructional support materials that can be used to help students build the types of historical understandings, historical thinking skills, and academic language stressed on the assessments are also included.  These instructional resources were developed by OUSD teachers through their participation in the district history writing assessment program, their participation in efforts to put the district's historical thinking standards into practice, and through their participation in three OUSD Teaching American History grants. 
This slide show is designed to preview many of the important events, ideas, and people students will encounter as they study the 8th grade U.S. history curriculum.  The intention is to provide students a sense of what they will be studying so they can begin to develop an historical narrative of this significant time period in American history. 




Instructional Resources and Writing Assessment Information

I.  Review – Early Exploration and
Settlement to the American Revolution
(August 29 – October 5)

Beginning the School Year: A Focus on Working with Historical Evidence

Investigating the Boston Massacre - Were the British Soldiers Guilty of Murder or Was it Self-Defense?

Boston Massacre investigation - answer key

In this activity students take on the role of a colonial American jury.  Their task is consider the historical evidence and decide whether the British soldiers involved in the Boston "Massacre" were guilty of murder, or whether they were acting in self-defense.  

II.  “A New Nation”
– Articles of Confederation
through the Adams Presidency
(October 8 – November 16)
A focus on the Constitution
1)  “The Constitution, as adopted in 1789, was a vast improvement over the Articles of Confederation.”  Defend or refute (agree or disagree with) this statement.
The following link below contains additional resources to support the previous questions and additional Constitution questions.
OUSD 8th grade U.S. History writing assessments and instructional support materials -http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=763##
2)  In this lesson students will work with census data from 1790 to determine the impact of the 3/5 Compromise on the number representatives each state had in the House of Representatives.  They will then evaluate a set of thesis that address the historical significance of the 3/5 Compromise and its impact on American history.
III. “The New Republic”
 – The Jefferson Era through
the California Gold Rush”
(November 19 – January 25)
1)  Nat Turner's Revolt - In these two activities students consider the inquiry questions of whether Nat Turner is a hero, or whether his revolt was a success.  In activity #1 students, before writing a response to one of the inquiry questions, examine historical evidence with on eye on reliability and making historical inferences.  In activity #2, before wriring a response to one of the inquuiry questions, students consider historical evidence and how different historians interpreted the evidence to develop an historical argument about Nat Turner's Revolt. 
Fall Assessment Topic and Question,
Implementation Window, and Scoring Session

Topic:    Indian Removal in the Age of Jackson


By 1838, which would have been better for the Cherokee Indians: to finally accept or to continue to resist the U.S. government’s demand they move to new tribal lands west of the Mississippi River?
Implementation Window:  December 3 - 25, 2013
Scoring Session: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Instructional Support Materials:
  • Hook Activity - This activity is designed to get students thinking about some of the key issues they will be grappling with as they develop their response to the assessment question.
  • Slide Presentation - Historical Overview - This slide presentation is designed to provide students an introduction to the Cherokee and the historical context in which they were forced to make a difficult decision.
  • Point of View Study Guide - This activity is connected to the 8th grade history textbook and is designed to help students gather additional background information for developing a thoughtful response to the assessment question. It asks students to interpret how individuals and groups mentioned in the book might view or respond to a specific historic event or individual. 
  • Cherokee Removal Assessment - Learning Targets - These learning targets were developed to assist Oakland teachers in articulating the specific goals and objectives of these assessment materials.
  • Possible Student ResponsesPossible responses to questions and activities on the scaffolded version of the assessment.
IV. “The Nation Expands”
– Early Industrialization
through the Beginnings of the Civil War
(January 28 – March 8)


V. “The Nation Breaks Apart”
– The Civil War and Reconstruction
(March 11 – May 10)
1)  Is John Brown an American Hero?
This set of lessons is asks students to consider and develop criteria for what makes an American hero. Using that criteria and historical sources they then decide whether John Brown should be considered an American hero.
The following link below contains additional instructional resources to support the John Brown question.OUSD 8th grade U.S. History writing assessments and instructional support materials -http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=763##
2)  Reconstruction
In this document based question students consider the historical context and question that follow.
Context - Imagine that you are a young African American man or woman living in the South in 1878.   A cousin of yours who escaped slavery with his family is living in the North.  The cousin, who doesn’t really like living in the North and misses his family in the South, has written you a letter asking if it would be a good idea to return to live in the South to experience the freedom that came with the end of slavery and the end of the Civil War.
Question - What advice would you give your cousin?  Should he stay in the North and do the best he can, or should he return to the South with the hope of building a new life of freedom with his family and the larger community of former slaves?
Spring Assessment Topic and Question,
Implementation Window, and Scoring Session

Topic:  Civil War        


On January 1, 1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Was the Proclamation issued for humanitarian reasons or military necessity?
Implementation Window:  April 1 - May 23, 2013
Scoring Session: TBD
VI.  “Westward Expansion
and the Industrial Revolution”
(Mid-May – June 14)

Last Modified on November 8, 2012