American History Lesson Template - Kate Ambrose

This is intended to address the student. Delete the text describing each section and enter your lesson accordingly.


Enter the title here. Be creative!


With the student as the intended audience write a short, overview paragraph of your American history lesson. Include the pivotal Essential Question around which the entire lesson is focused.
If there is a role or scenario involved (e.g., "You are a detective trying to identify the mysterious poet,” etc.) then here is where you'll set the stage. If there's no motivational intro like that, use this section to provide a short advance organizer or overview. Remember, the purpose of the introduction is to both prepare and hook the reader.


Describe clearly and concisely the goal of the task through which students will process and transform the information that they have gathered. The goal of the task could be to:

  • solve a problem or mystery;
  • formulate and defend a position;
  • design a product;
  • analyze a complex situation or issue;
  • articulate a personal insight;
  • create a summary;
  • craft a persuasive message or journal account;
  • produce a creative work.

If students are required to use a specific tool(s) (e.g., PowerPoint, the Web, video) to complete a task, mention it here. Remember, the purpose of the task is to describe the end result of student activities only. The steps for successful completion of the task will be described in the process of the lesson (below).

Lesson Process

What specific classroom activities will students engage in that allow them to grasp the subject matter at hand? Tasks should encourage students to interact with each other and with the primary sources and other materials being used.

List the documents and/or artifacts you will be using with students. Include the source (i.e., Boston National Historic Park, Boston Public Library).

List the steps required for learners to complete the task successfully. Describing this section well will help other teachers to see how your lesson flows and how they might adapt it for their own use, so the more detail and care you put into this, the better. Remember that this is addressed to the student, however, so describe the steps using the second person, as follows:

1. First you'll be assigned to a team of 3 students...
2. Once you've picked a role to play....
3. ... and so on.

Learners will access the primary and secondary source documents and any on-line resources that you've identified as they work their way through the lesson. You may have a set of links that everyone investigates as a way of developing background information, or not. If you break learners into groups, embed the links that each group will explore within the description of that stage of the lesson. For an example see the Process and Resources section of Tuskegee Tragedy.

You might also provide some guidance on how to organize the information gathered. This advice could include suggestions to use flowcharts, summary tables, concept maps, or other organizing structures. The advice could also take the form of a checklist of questions to assist in analyzing the documents and information, or things to notice or think about. If you have identified or prepared guide documents that cover specific skills needed for this lesson (e.g. how to brainstorm, how to prepare to interview an expert, how to analyze documents, etc.), include them here (they will be converted into PDF documents and linked to this section by your TLCD).


Write a couple of sentences (addressed to the student) that summarize what students will have accomplished or learned by completing this activity or lesson. You might also include some rhetorical questions or additional links to encourage them to extend their thinking beyond this lesson.


We will use a separate wiki page to develop additional criteria for the SIW content rubric. The original Jan 2006, SIW Content Evaluation Rubric will not be modified.


Describe the resources/materials needed to implement this lesson. Some of the possibilities might include:

  • Primary source documents and/or artifacts
  • Worksheets/handouts used in the lesson
  • Any Document Analysis Worksheets on National Archives site:
  • Class sets of books
  • Specific reference material in the classroom or school library
  • Video or audio materials
  • E-mail accounts for all students
  • Specific software
  • Specific hardware (what kind? how many?)

Potential Resources

If the lesson makes extensive use of specific websites, list them, describe them, and give the URL (http://….).

Describe also the human resources needed. For example: How many teachers are needed to implement the lesson. Is one enough? Is there a role for aides or parents in the room? Do you need to coordinate with a teacher at another school? with a university partner or a museum, national historic site, or other entity? Is a field trip designed as part of the lesson?