Unit 6: Transcendentalism and Immigration

Below is my Unit vision and goals for Unit 6, which starts in January. History is so great to teach.

“Most of this year we have been looking at the successes of the American experiment. This unit, we begin to explore dissonance. In looking at Transcendentalism, students can begin to see that by having the freedoms given in the Constitution, many opinions can arise. The transcendentalists challenge the status quo of thinking as well as the actions that form out of that thinking. Here, I hope that students, too, can see that value in pushing back, challenging the status quo, and thinking for themselves (with evidence, of course!). As this unit is the first to kick off 2018, I hope it sets a good tone in critical thinking, questioning, speaking, and writing.

The Transcendentalists

The second half of the unit involves early U.S. immigration. Another area that amplifies dissonance within U.S. history, I hope that students can see and make parallels from early immigrant experiences to their own. In learning about the Irish and Italians in particular, conversations will center around questions like “What does ‘being white’ really mean?” “How can immigrants be seen as a threat?” Why can immigrants help a country?” and other thought-provoking questions. This unit will also illuminate one of our other C’s for my class: Complexity. In learning about varying viewpoints in thinking, as well as immigration, students can see that the past is a little more complicated that it is sometimes made out to be. During this unit, students will engage in Socratic seminar to further their discussion on complicated issues, students will create their own questions to push their own reasoning, and students will write extensively using primary source documents to push their understanding of the past as it were, not as we have made it to be.”