Inquiry-Based Lessons in U.S. History: Decoding the Past provides primary source lessons that focus on teaching U.S. history through inquiry to middle school students. Students will be faced with a question to answer or problem to solve and will examine primary sources for evidence to create hypothetical solutions. The chapters focus on key chronological periods (e.g., the Age of Exploration to the Civil Rights era) and follow the scope and sequence of major social studies textbooks, with activities linked to the U.S. History Content Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies. The three lesson plans in each chapter begin with an essential question that sets the focus for the primary sources and teaching strategies that follow. The lesson plans include differing types of primary sources such as photographs, speeches, political cartoons, historic maps, paintings, letters, and diary entries.

Grades 5-8

chapter Chapter 1|7 pages


chapter Chapter 3|13 pages

1607-1650 Settling in

chapter Chapter 4|19 pages

1650-1750 Colonial Development

chapter Chapter 5|14 pages

1750-1783 The Path to Independence

chapter Chapter 6|16 pages

1783-1800The New Nation

chapter Chapter 7|16 pages

1803-1850 Westward Expansion

chapter Chapter 8|14 pages

1850–1865 Sectionalism and Civil War

chapter Chapter 9|12 pages

1863-1877 Reconstruction

chapter Chapter 10|11 pages

1840–1914 A Nation in Transition

chapter Chapter 11|16 pages

1840-1900 Industrialization and Immigration

chapter Chapter 12|12 pages

1914-1945 The Era of World Wars

chapter Chapter 13|11 pages

1940-1970 Civil Rights