Introducing Units for U.S. History

Introducing Units for U.S. History

We’re excited to announce Units, a new resource built into Newsela PRO. Our debut collection, U.S. History, includes 41 Units. Attached to each Unit is an overview, instructional suggestions and guiding questions. Within each, you’ll find familiar texts alongside current and unique content that you won’t find in textbooks, all grouped into three key Subtopic areas. At the Subtopic level, you’ll find a suggested sequence of articles and activities. Each activity comes with instructions so you can easily assign lessons. As with all assignments you make on Newsela, it’s easy to track student progress online so you can get all that paper clutter off your kitchen table.


So what will this look like in practice? It looks like engaged students reading historical and contemporary texts that challenge them to grow their understanding of historical events — and their nonfiction literacy skills.

Take our Unit on World War I. Inside the Subtopic called “Road to War” and many of our other Units, students will start with a “hook.” These are fascinating articles and documents that will draw a student reader into a topic whether they were initially interested or not. When students start the Unit, they are dropped right into the shoes of a foot soldier via a first-person account of trench warfare and its muddy miseries. Like all texts on Newsela, this letter is published at five levels, allowing you to teach with a century-old primary source document that all your readers can approach with confidence.

Now that you’ve got them curious about the subject, have them dive deeper with a thorough overview of the Great War from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Students will go back in time with original newspaper dispatches recounting the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the sinking of the Lusitania. They’ll read a short biography of President Woodrow Wilson as well as his famous “14 Points” document to end the war. Later in the Unit, they'll explore the often untold perspective of WWI sparking an artistic movement in Black America. Our signature news content also plays a role in Units. You’ll find an article on chemical warfare in Syria with instructions for an assignment about how WWI changed the world’s view of such deadly weapons.

We created Units because we know a lot is demanded of social studies teachers. You have to find content that 1) aligns to standards, 2) meets the students reading abilities, and 3) engages students. A textbook can generally cover 1, but what about 2 or 3? Meeting all these criteria sometimes takes more time than even the most dedicated teacher can spare. Our aim is to help you to do all three, with content that spans a range of sources and genres and exposes students to perspectives that were not represented in traditional history texts.

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