Accelerating Student Learning and Motivation in Your U.S. History Classroom

Leading Questions in U.S. History

Why Study U.S. History?
Using the Standards
Standardized Exams
Developing Themes in U.S. History
Historical Stories and Unit Hooks
Using Primary Sources in the Classroom
General Strategies
Alternative Assessments
Rubrics and Scaffolds
Long Term Projects
Additional Resources
Kevin Williams: Contact and Information
Below you will find a chronological/thematic list of leading questions for units in U.S. History.
The list is by no means exhaustive.  I hope this will be a collaborative effort.  If you have a leading question that has worked for you, please email it to me.  I will, of course, give you full credit!  My email:
Colonial America
a. Were the roots of sectionalism, so brutally seen during the American Civil War, planted during the colonial era of America?
b. Did American Colonial society lay the groundwork for the U.S. Constitution?

The American Revolution
a. At what point was the American Revolution inevitable?
b. Is it fair to state that the American Revolution was most significantly a movement toward self-government?
c. Was the American Revolution a "revolution" for all the participants? Why or why not?

The U.S. Constitution
a. Was the U.S. Constitution a necessity?
b. Did the Founding Fathers create the conditions that led to the Civil War?
c. Do federalism and separation of powers promote the principles found in the Declaration of Independence?

The New Nation
a. To what extent did the early Presidents of the United States (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe) make the United States safer - both domestically and internationally?

Jacksonian Democracy (Note: Historians often like to refer to the Jacksonian Era as 1820-1840)
a. Did Andrew Jackson leave a positive mark on the United States? Consider social, political and economic conditions?
b. In what ways did the United States begin to move to an industrial society during the Jacksonian Era (1824-1848)

Era of Expansion
a. Was United States continental expansion simply related to the need to spread slavery?
b. Did abolitionists speed the coming of the American Civil War?

a. To what extent did the following groups see the era of Reconstruction as a success (by their own standards)?
     1. White Southerners
     2. Freed slaves
     3. Northerners

The American West
a. In what ways is it fair to call the American West a "Geography of Hope"? (Note: This question came as a result of watching PBS'; The West: A Geography of Hope)

Industrialism and Immigration
a. Why did the American Industrial Revolution occur when it did, where it did and how it did?
b. What were the social effects of the American Industrial Revolution?

Foreign Policy at the Turn of the Century
a. What factors led the United States to become a more imperialist nation during the latter half of the 19th century?
b. What were the effects of American imperialism on American society?

Progressive Era
a. Which progressive policies had the most lasting political, economic and social impact on the United States?
b. In what cases was Progressive change initiated by individuals?

World War One
a. How did World War One affect the American Homefront?

The 1920s
a. Is it fair to refer to the 1920s as The Roaring 20s?

Great Depression and New Deal
a. How effective was the New Deal in helping bring an end to the Great Depression?

World War II
a. Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech in 1941 entitled The Four Freedoms. How well did the United States defend the Four Freedoms at home during World War II?

The Cold War
a. How could the use of the first atomic bomb be considered a turning point in United States history?
b. How did the policy of containment change the nature of war?
c. In what ways did the Cold War affect people’s lives in the United States?

The Era of Civil Rights
a. To which group does the Civil Rights Movement owe its successes - grassroots level or national level?
b. In what ways did the successes of the African American Civil Rights Movement lead to civil rights movements among other oppressed groups?
c. In what ways did the Supreme Court and the Great Society aid in the struggle for civil rights?
d. What events in the 1970s show a disenchantment with the continuing struggle for civil rights?

Post Cold War Foreign Policy
a. How did the United States' experiences in Vietnam change the nation's attitudes and strategies toward war?