Teaching Authentic U.S. History


Last night I hosted a live Instagram where I discussed how I teach history. I’ve started to realize that my strategy for teaching history is not as common as I had previously thought. Definitely watch the video above (with all of my “ums”), for some background information (it’s only available for another 8 hours or so). UPDATE: I was able to add the audio to this post. For some reason, I couldn’t add the video. So, listen in?

Here are some of my favorite resources for the school year.

A Class Divided – This is the documentary that was filmed by a teacher (Jane Elliot) in 1968 who decided to divide her kids by eye color. The full video is available right online. What I didn’t mention was that Oprah had this teacher in the 1990s, and Oprah did the same thing with her audience. The audience was not happy! Both of the videos are enthralling. (NOTE: I’m not suggesting that you conduct the same experiment with your own students, the video is enough for them to learn the lesson.)

Hamilton Documentary – This is the documentary that was filmed by PBS in combination with the Hamilton musical. Unfortunately, the documentary isn’t currently available online. My students really love Hamilton and grow quite attached by the end of the school year. I’m at the point where students are entering my classes having already learned Hamilton from their older brothers or sisters. You can definitely use some of the lyrics with younger students.

The Abolitionists – This is one of the videos I show in my class during the school year. It chronicles the lives of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. It is just fantastic. The dialogue is difficult for middle schoolers, so I have questions that we answer, and I pause the video quite a bit. I suggest watching the video just for your own background knowledge. Manisha Sinha (one of the historians in the videos) has recently published a new book on this topic – A Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. Haven’t gotten a chance to read this yet, but it would be great read for more background information on the topic.

Slavery by Another Name – This is the video that I show at the end of the year. This is a story that most students are not familiar with – how slavery was turned into convict labor. There is also a companion book, also titled Slavery by Another Name, that I would suggest checking out for background information.

There are many topics, lessons, and ideas that I didn’t mention in this video. I’d like to do more of these little lessons, so I’m saving them for future videos.

I will note that some of the lessons I mentioned in my video are available on TpT. I won’t link them here (because that feels awkward), however, you can visit my TpT store to see more. I did include affiliate links on some of the books. I’m hoping to do a giveaway with some of these books in the future and I would use any money earned there towards that giveaway.

Thanks again for watching, and again, remember to follow my instagram feed for future topics!




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