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The ``National Standards for United States History'' divide US history into 10 eras from ``Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)'' to ``Contemporary United States (1968 to Present).'' They suggest goals in two areas: historical thinking skills (that ``enable students to evaluate evidence, ... and construct sound historical arguments'') and historical understandings (that ``define what students should know about the history of their nation and the world'').The following are excerpts from the standards: Era 1. Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)

Standard 1C

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Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the characteristics of West African societies in the era of European contact by:

Grades 5-12. Describing the physical and cultural geography of West Africa and analyzing its impact on settlement patterns and trade.

Grades 5-12. Locating the political kingdoms of Mali, Songhai, and Benin, and urban centers such as Timbuktu and Jenne, and analyzing their importance and influence.

Grades 9-12. Describing how family organization, gender roles, and religion shaped West African societies.

Grades 7-12. Appraising the influence of Islam and Muslim culture on West African societies. ERA 3. Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

Standard 3B

Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the new government it established by:

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Grades 5-12. Analyzing the factors involved in calling the Constitutional Convention, including Shays's Rebellion.

Grades 7-12. Analyzing the alternative plans considered by the delegates and the major compromises agreed upon to secure the approval of the Constitution.

Grades 9-12. Analyzing the fundamental ideas behind the distribution of powers and the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution.

Grades 9-12. Comparing the arguments of Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the ratification debates and assess their relevance in late 20th-century politics.

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