US History and the Constitution

Content, Methods, and Resources for Teachers

Teaching American History in South Carolina

Ben Franklin at Florence County Library
Ben Franklin having tea
Ben Franklin

Syllabus for PEE DEE Summer Institute – June 14-25, 2010

Instructions for Applying for Graduate Credit via Clemson University

Schedule for Summer Institute (PDF file)

Pee Dee PowerPoint Presentations

The 2010 Pee Dee Summer Institute includes 30 hours of content instruction, 15 hours of methods instruction, and 15 hours of cultural institution programs and resources.  Content instruction will take the form of a compressed survey-level American history course.  Methods instruction will demonstrate teaching methods that encourage higher-level thinking (analysis, evaluation, and creation) and active student involvement with primary source material.  In addition, students will have opportunities to learn about and access the resources of many of the Pee Dee’s cultural institutions:  libraries, archives, museums, and historic sites.  Each day, class will meet at a different institution.  All activities utilize local primary sources or objects relating to the periods or themes being studied.  Participants will conduct primary source research to create original lesson plans. 

Course Schedule     

Summer Institute:      June 14-25, 2010 at various locations in the Pee Dee

Fall Meeting:                 Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 5pm at Florence Library

Midyear Retreat:          February 18-19, 2010 at White Oak Conference Center

Summer Institute Daily Schedule           

9:00 a.m. – 11:45a.m.             Master Scholar Content Instruction
10:30 a.m.– 10:45 a.m.          Break
11:45 a.m.– 12:15 p.m.           Lunch
12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.            Cultural Institution Programs and Resources
1:45 p.m.– 2:00 p.m.               Break
2:00 p.m.– 3:30 p.m.              Master Teacher Methods Instruction
3:30 p.m.– 4:00 p.m.              Wrap-up/Reflection

Required Reading
Ellis, Joseph.  Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.  Vintage Books, 2002.

Plessy v. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents.  Edited with an introduction by Brook Thomas. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

Selected readings of Treasure Trove materials provided with course binder.

Course Description (Content Sessions by Kevin Witherspoon)
Turn on the television today, and within minutes you are likely to find a program or commercial discussing the importance of our Constitution and form of government. “Our government is moving in the wrong direction,” one advertisement says. “It’s time to take our government back!” shouts another. “The Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves,” declares one expert. In today’s society, we are bombarded with such clichés and truisms. But, how often do we truly stop and think about what is being said? More important for our purposes, how often do we attempt to teach our students how to properly consider such statements?

One of the hopes of the organizers of this institute is that you will come away from it with a stronger ability to make sense of many of the discussions taking place in our nation today. As proponents of history, it is also our intention to simply convey a more thorough grasp on the nature of our Constitution and its evolution through time. By reinforcing your understanding of this cornerstone document, it is our goal that you will be better able to teach your students about it.

In studying the history of the Constitution, we will explore several core themes:

  • Federal versus state and local government
  • Who were the “Founding Fathers” and what was their vision of our government?
  • The separation of powers; checks and balances
  • The protection of individual liberties versus the needs of the nation
  • The changing role (and definition) of the federal government over time
  • The changing nature of citizenship. Who is (and who is not) a citizen?
  • The role of the Supreme Court in shaping the Constitution
  • The necessity of amendments

In addressing these and other themes, we will focus our study on a number of topics and/or events, including:

  • The American Revolution and the nature of government
  • The “Great Debate”: Federalists versus Anti-Federalists
  • Shaping the new government in the presidencies of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson
  • The extension of democracy in the Jacksonian Era
  • The Civil War as a Constitutional crisis
  • The Reconstruction Era and the status of the freed slaves
  • The federal government and big business
  • Progressivism and the limits of reform
  • The New Deal and the changing nature of the federal government
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • The Constitution in the modern age
  • Selected items from the TAHSC Treasure Trove of Primary Sources