Beacon Unit Plan Library

America Gears Up

Richard Johnson
Beacon Learning Center (Bay District Schools)


Students work through a series of lessons on the Industrial Revolution in the United States in preparation for a presentation that answers the essential questions for the unit. The essential questions for this unit revolve around the idea that historical circumstances often create winners and losers and that, in some cases, a group can be both a winner and loser. Content is acquired through a variety of lessons. The lessons that make up this unit represent a wide range of learning strategies and methods. Students begin the unit by writing first-person letters that show empathy with early Americans dealing with the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society. Next, student groups use presentation skills in presenting information on Big Business industries that grew in the period after the Civil War. They continue the unit with an inquiry lesson involving the labor and social conditions of this period and see how special interest groups and public opinion can cause change in a society. Important inventions are explored in the final lesson. To conclude the unit, students conduct research and answer the essential questions in a Multiple Intelligence project suited to their individual learning styles, which is presented in an authentic setting.


-Can societies have winners and losers at the same time?
-Can societal groups win and lose at the same time?
-How are the winners and losers reconciled?


The planned duration of this activity is 22 days.

Associated Files

Unit Plan Overview     File Extension:  pdf

Diagnostic Assessment     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessment 1     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessment 2     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessment 3     File Extension:  pdf

America Gears Up Journal     File Extension:  pdf

Jeopardy Summative 2 Review     File Extension:  pdf

Lesson Plans

From the Farm to the Factory
Students practice listening, reading, and writing while focusing on the early part of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Empathy for the people of this period is shown through a series of letters that relate circumstances from the period.

Big Business Monkey Business
Students work in cooperative groups to provide presentations on business organization and “Big Business” during the second part of the Industrial Revolution (1860-1910) in the United States.

Labor Pains
This is an inquiry lesson where students read an account of the Chicago Haymarket Riot of 1886 and identify questions that need to be addressed to understand the historical circumstances surrounding the event. Student groups then research individual questions and present answers to the whole class, thus explaining the labor situation during this time.

Inventing a New Life
Students research information on selected inventions of the latter part of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. They then write persuasive essays on which invention they consider to be the most important. Using their essays as reference, students attempt to sway a talk-show audience toward their choices for the most important invention.
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