Teaching High School History at Home


I am homeschooling two students in high school, and it is difficult to find decent home school materials. Both of my students are "science types" rather than art/literature types. I have looked at The History of US, but most reviews put it at the pre-high school level. Can you help? If I order a traditional text, written for schools, I will need access, of course, to all the teacher materials.


Unlike most history textbooks, Joy Hakim’s A History of US, has a single narrative voice and tells a clear story. It is, however, targeted at a lower reading level than you may have in mind. One straightforward solution is to look for a college-level textbook. Works like The American Nation or The American Spirit are designed for an advanced high school or college-level audience. If you do decide to go this route, remember that there are downsides to relying on textbooks. Check out our resources on Teaching with Textbooks for some good tips on how to navigate this terrain. Another option is a digital textbook. There are several good choices available online, but the real upside here is that you’ll have the ability to pick and choose from them as you see fit. A good place to start this exploration is with our answer to the question “Do you know of any good online U.S. History textbooks?” A third option is to cobble together your own materials. This isn’t as hard as it may seem, and it will allow you to go as deep as you wish into historical materials. To start, you might rely upon a textbook, digital or otherwise, for an outline. But you’ll lean heaviest on primary documents—the use of which will allow you to investigate historical questions the way historians do. There are millions of free, high-quality primary sources located in online repositories like the Library of Congress’s American Memory collection, all searchable and organized by topic. (Also see this entry that lists more useful collections.) There are also hundreds of topic-specific sites that you can search through our website. Finally, if you’re looking for something in print, there are several good document readers available for purchase, like The Boisterous Sea of Liberty, edited by David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, or Richard Hofstadter’s Great Issues in American History—a three-volume set that covers 1584–1981. Make sure to browse our resources for using primary sources and you may find this entry particularly useful. Don’t forget to check out our lesson plan reviews section to find some great (and free) online resources. Of course, if you want prepared curriculum that spans the traditional U.S. history course, there are some choices available. The Annenberg Foundation offers an online course—America’s History in the Making—that includes video, online text, and activities. HippoCampus, a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, also offers a full course in U.S. History, as well as a course designed for students planning to take the Advanced Placement test. Each comes with multimedia lessons, readings and resources, and assignments like document-based questions and map activities. Please let us know how things turn out.

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Teachinghistory.org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom.