This course thematically combines U.S. History and English 10 curricula by leading students through questions of power in the construction and deconstruction of society. Anchored by the Massachusetts State Curriculum frameworks for ELA and Social Studies, this course also aligns with Plymouth South’s cross-curricular literacy initiative. Through the intentionally paired texts and aligned assessments, students make authentic connections between ideas and questions across subject areas. In its pilot 2010-2011 year, this project successfully constructed a bridge between both curricula and demonstrated to students that the underlying themes are relevant to both core subjects and their lives.

Essential Questions:

• What constitutes a society? How is it built? What causes it to unravel?

• What does our society look like to different individuals?

• Who has the power to change society? In whose interests?

• How and why does society constantly change / How and why is it constantly changing?

• What kind of society do you (or don’t you) want to live in?

(This curriculum is a work in progress - please share ideas, suggestions, comments & questions. Thanks!) 

Unit I: Transformation of Society & Construction of Society

Guiding Questions:

* What are cornerstones of society? How do they shape the people?

* How and why do people rebel? Why is their rebellion successful/unsuccessful?

* What is the difference between a radical and a terrorist?

* What role do including and excluding play in forming a society?

Core Ideas:

Control, Leader, Outcast, Society

Content                                                Skills                                                Assessments


- Native Americans

- Puritans & Colonists

- Rise of the 13 Colonies

- John Locke


- Brave New World

- Pledge of Allegiance & Declaration of Independence

- The Children’s Story by James Clavell

- 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson

- 'Harrison Bergeron' by Kurt Vonnegut


Socratic circles

Change details of short story to incorporate history

Short essays on core ideas & BNW

iSearch paper on unit notebook & short essay answering one of the guiding questions using notebook

Unit II: A New Nation / “Liberty is Always an Unfinished Business”

Guiding Questions:

* How does the way a society communicate affect its construction and its people?

* How is social control achieved and maintained?

* What is the role of the dissenting individual in a society?

Core Ideas:

Control, Medium, Leader, Responsibility

Content                                Skills                                        Assessments


- US Constitution

- Bill of Rights

- Alien & Sedition Acts

- McCarthyism

- USA Patriot Act


- Fahrenheit 451

- 'Social Networking' by Mike Keefe

- Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation

- "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

Public Speaking

Research Skills

‘Firebook’ journal compiling notes on novel, current events, historical connections, images, etc

Six Degrees of Searching iSearch research paper on history topic

Group presentation based on history topic & guiding questions

Short essays on three Parts of F451 using guiding questions

500 word essay/speech based on how a quotation from F451 applies to the past, present, and how it should inform the future

Unit III: The Rise and Fall of a Hero

Guiding Questions:

* What makes a good leader? An effective leader?

* How does power change a leader?

* How much of a leader's decisions are based on free will (agency) v. fate (uncontrollable situations/societal affairs)?

Core Ideas:

Power, Leader, Bystanders, Culpability  

Content                                Skills                                        Assessments


- Andrew Jackson

- Trail of Tears


- Macbeth

- "Studies in Shakespeare: Introduction to Macbeth" Ian Johnston (Text)

- "Approaching Shakespeare: Macbeth" Emma Smith (Audio)

Public Speaking

Socratic Circles

Trial of both leaders based on their culpability

Photos/drawings of each scene

Photo/drawing essay based on thesis derived from guiding question that combines two leaders

Unit IV: Reforms and Reformers

Guiding Questions:

How does an economic system affect society?

How does an economic system affect the individual?

How do economic systems affect humanity?

Core Ideas:

Power, Change, Individual, System


- Frederick Douglass

- Market Revolution

- Reform Movements


- MCAS Review

- A Christmas Carol




History Research Paper

Narrative story of dissenting individual

Unit V: Collapse of Society

Guiding Questions:

* How and why does a society collapse?

* What are the relationships between humanity, violence, and bystanders?

Core Ideas:

Humanity, Violence, Bystanders, Power

Content                                Skills                                        Assessments


- Road to the Civil War

- The Civil War


- Lord of the Flies

- 'Keep It Together' by Guster

- ‘The Creation of Whiteness’ by Tim Wise

- The Common Elements of Oppressions by Suzanne Pharr

- Bully, Bullied, Bystander... and Beyond by Barbara Coloroso

- The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty

- Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Socratic Circles

Journal books detailing the events of LotF, the intersections of key ideas and characters, and historical connections

5pg paper with a thesis anchored by at least two of the three guiding terms arguing how these ideas shaped the events of the Civil War and Lord of the Flies

Unit VI: A New Beginning

Guiding Questions:

* How do History and English serve as lenses to understanding society?

Core Ideas:

choose from above

Content                                Skills                                        Assessments


- Reconstruction

- Review

English (choice of)

- 1984

- I am the Cheese

- The Bean Trees

- Secret Life of Bees

- Raisin in the Sun


Short Story Writing

Notes or Journal books detailing the events of the choice book, the intersection of guiding ideas, the construction of a main character, and connections to historical events

Historical Dossier

Short story with the main character traced through the choice book written into a historical time period we studied this year - based in historical reference of choice book author. Connects to essential question of course.