Grade 8 – U.S. History II

I: Reconstruction

Following the Civil War the United States had to find a way to once again, well, become "united" - learn how new policies and social inequalities rose from the ashes of the fighting.

II: The Gilded Age

Mark Twain called the late 19th century the "Gilded Age." By this, he meant that the period was glittering on the surface but corrupt underneath. 

III: American Industrialism

Spreading to the US from Europe, industrialism put the country on a new path to prosperity for many and for others it proved to be a trap.

IV: The Progressive Era

Corruption was addressed during this era of immense change and social reform.

V: The Great Depression and New Deal

Learn about the legislation that was passed by FDR during the Great Depression. This unit sets a strong foundation for economic principles that will certainly come in handy in the future!

VI: The Great War

Discover the effects of WWI on the United States and how it forever changed America's stance on foreign policy.

VII: The Struggle for Equality

The Civil War resulted in the enfranchisement of African Americans - learn how women also gained the right to vote and begin the feminist movement for the equality they deserve. 

VIII: World War II

Learn about the United States' participation in World War II and how the Cold War and Nuclear Age began.

IX: Cold War and Counter Culture

Learn about the United States' participation in World War II and how the Cold War and Nuclear Age began.

X: The Civil Rights Movement

The struggle for racial equality in America continues today and has changed in many ways. Learn about the different ideologies behind the movement with a focus on leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

XI: The New Millenium

The United States continues to face adversity both foreign and domestic. Discover the history of current wars and the threats that we may face tomorrow unless we change today.

SYLLABUS (Click here to download)

Mr. Shinski
Class website:
8th Grade American History

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
-Robert Kennedy

Welcome to eighth grade social studies! This class is the second installment of American History for junior high students. We will be picking up where you left off last year with a quick review then heading straight into the Reconstruction Era. We will explore the “rebirth” of America and its quick route to becoming a world power while analyzing the accomplishments of the country and the sacrifices and struggles made along the way. Major units include the Industrial Revolution, Progressive Era, World Wars, the Cold War Era, Civil Rights movement and modern issues. Our goal is to go well beyond the facts and seek connections to our past! We will be following the NYS Social Studies Standards, Common Core Standards (ELA), and the NYS Common Core ELA Shifts.

Target Skills to Develop:
Writing – Expository writing, creating claims, justifying statements with factual evidence from texts.
Reading – Critical analysis, text coding and annotating.
Social studies literacy elements – Maps, tables, charts, graphs, diagrams
Character – The mental and moral qualities of an individual. Tolerance and empathy will be developed through out study of human history including tragedies and great acts of kinds and sacrifice.

Methods of Instruction:
Throughout this year we will be exploring social studies through many forms. Social studies is a multi-media experience and I intend to utilize a vast array of literature, video, and audio on multiple platforms including but not limited to online tools, SMART lessons, and good old fashioned books! I do my best to keep the class entertaining and lively and hope you will all be active participants in the classroom! Collaboration is key!

Key Classroom Policies:
1) Be respectful of everyone in the classroom (peers, aides, substitutes, guests, administrators, myself, and yourself as well)
2) Come prepared.
3) Go to the restroom between periods. You may sign out but if data shows you’re leaving “often” I will be forced to investigate the issue further.
4) Don’t cheat! It’s just not worth it. If you’re honestly struggling, let me know, we will get through it together!

Attendance and Make Up Work:
Students that are absent should do their best to contact me using the class website, email, or phone (call the school!) in effort to find out what assignments they are missing and where they can find the course materials. To begin the year, overdue work will be accepted with no penalties until the fifth late assignment is turned in. After the fifth assignment, overdue work will receive point deductions and ultimately result in phone calls home. This policy is under my discretion and extenuating circumstances are considered as they occur. While homework and content may be completed outside of class I believe the majority of learning comes from in class participation and group activities.
-Chronic absenteeism will be reflected by the school’s policy

Course Requirements:
The grading system used will follow the same schedule as noted in your student handbook as determined by the district.
The class will be graded on a 0-100 scale and assignments are weighted as shown below:
Exams: 25%
Papers: 20%
Projects: 15%
Homework: 20%
Notebook Checks: 10%
Participation*: 10%
*Participation is shown by completing bell ringers, exit slips, and participating in discussions.

Academic Integrity:
Any plagiarism and/or academic dishonesty will be handled in accordance to the school handbook.
Please see me if you have any questions about academic dishonesty including plagiarism.

Course Resources:
Several supplemental resources for students can be found on the class website,, to help improve literacy skills and organizational skills.

Required and Recommended Materials:
-Bound Composition Book (Ex. marble style Mead)
-2” binder, D-Ring
-Binder dividers with labels
-Loose leaf paper (college or wide ruled)
-Black/Blue pens
-Pencils (#2 and colored)
-2 Pocket folder

Notebook Checks:
Each student is responsible for maintaining a notebook in class. Every day there will be a short set of notes to copy – in a way it’s like creating a miniature and condensed notebook. Not only does it begin to develop note-taking skills, this will also serve as a great quick reference guide for studying throughout the year. Everyone is free to doodle related drawing, tape relevant images, or write additional notes in their books. Just remember, I WILL BE CHECKING THESE! It’s a “free” 10 points!