Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Oldies But Goodies-The Early United States, 1783-1814

The early years of the United States from around 1784-1814 were spent carving a new nation.
Prominent leaders like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington gambled that this new republic could be independent—and it was. The leaders helped these thirteen states unify into a new republic, despite the states' constant bickering. Then they formed a new government where the leaders were elected by the people—a radical idea.

Later the leaders wrote The Articles of Confederation, which was the first constitution for the United States, but it was too weak to control powerful state governments. Thus, a new constitution
was written and eleven of the thirteen states ratified it in 1787 and 1788.

This new country was able to expand its boundaries after signing a peace treaty in 1783. Some people lived in relatively large cities then, but not as large as cities in Europe, as is shown in the first U.S. census of 1790.

According to Alan Taylor a Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, in his essay published in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, more than 90 percent of the people lived in the countryside on scattered farms and plantations.

Students I taught researched what life was like for these citizens of the new United States of America. Some of the things they researched were how people earned a living; what they ate and wore for clothing; how they celebrated holidays; and what school was like. Some of the best books for this kind of research were written by Bobby Kalman. Her books have detailed illustrations showing what life was like; and the books use the vocabulary of those times, which is often unfamiliar to today's students. I believe these books would still be applicable for today's students whose learning is being shaped by Common Core and State Standards.

One standard in the History/Social Studies strand for Grades 6-12 asks that students, "Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies." 

We know that a class of students has a wide range of reading levels and abilities, thus introductory text as an image, as in Bobby Kalman's books, is invaluable to help build understanding and background knowledge in all students before reading complex, printed text. In other words, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

One prepared graduate competency that the Colorado History Standards stresses is that students be able to "analyze key historical periods and patterns of change over time withing and across nations and cultures." I'm confident that other states have this general standard too.

 I believe Bobby Kalman's books can be used to help students achieve history standards because the books are rich in vocabulary and illustrations, which are sources of information on their own.

Hopefully, these books are still used in the curriculum and are on the school library shelves. But, if a teacher/librarian is weeding non-fiction books, be sure to ask to see the cart and search for these wonderful books by Bobby Kalman to keep and use in your classroom.

Goodreads image

No comments:

Post a Comment