US History Through Digital Storybooks


Statement of Intent

Seventh grade social studies students will meet course objectives through the creation of Digital Storybooks that portray United States history.

Needs Assessment

The Instructional Problem

The students need to meet curriculum objectives provided by New York State. Unit 5 Section III: Life in the New Nation, the Preindustrial Age: 1790-1860s - New York State Core Curriculum pages 59-61. The students must be prepare for jobs and careers in the service sector, which is ever-changing and requires familiarity with technology.

What is to be Learned

  • The American Journey (Glencoe/McGraw Hill 2006): Chapter 13 North and South 1820-1860, and Chapter 14 The Age of Reform 1820-1860.
    • The North's Economy and People (Chapter 13)
    • The South's Economy and People (Chapter 13)
    • Social Reform (Chapter 14)
    • Abolitionists (Chapter 14)
    • The Women's Movement (Chapter 14)

About the Learners and the Instructional Context

This course is designed for a seventh grade social studies class. My class this year is particularly gifted intellectually and artistically. I want to engage them according to these abilities and help them to take better ownership of their learning. So far this year, we have completed three unit exhibit projects that involve writing a paper, creating a visual, and presenting their work to the class. I have received some great work, but I want to implement another form of assessment for the final unit, which covers the Preindustrial Era and causes of the Civil War. The students have already completed seven months of a two year United States History course and have a basic understanding of United States history up to the Age of Reform 1820-1860. Half have also completed a semester of technology and are able to create videos using computer software and upload the videos to Youtube. The students come from a socioeconomically stratified community with a great majority being middle or lower class. Roughly 10% of the class come from "wealthy" families. The averages of the class so far this year have reflected a basic curve around 80%. Attendance is not a major issue with most students, but there are a few that may struggle during the course of this project, simply because they're not in school. These same students also have inconsistent access to the internet, and because most of the class lives in the mountains, internet access for a significant number is dial up. Because they are below the driving age, they will not be able to coordinate easily on this project outside of class. Consequently, no computer work will be assigned for homework. Rather, research and development of their stories will be homework if not completed in class. This will be a group project, with each group being assigned a specific topic from the curriculum. The groups will contain members that are both experienced and inexperienced with Microsoft Moviemaker and Youtube, so that responsibility may be divided fairly and so that the students can help to teach each other.

The Instructional Problem and Solution

  • The students must meet curriculum objectives provided by New York State. Unit 5 Section III: Life in the New Nation, the Preindustrial Age: 1790-1860s - New York State Core Curriculum pages 59-61.
  • The students have shown great intellectual and artistic ability. Because half already have experience with movie-making software, the students will be split into groups to collaborate in making Digital Storybooks according to the demands of the NYS Core Curriculum. The videos will then be posted to Youtube.


  • Have students work together in groups.
  • Have each group cover a portion of the core curriculum.
  • Provide general instruction on curriculum topics.
  • Give students ownership of learning
  • Provide instruction on creating a storybook.
  • Provide instruction on using Microsoft Moviemaker.
  • Provide instruction on uploading videos to Youtube.
  • Have the groups work independently in creating a Digital Storybook based on the NYS Core Curriculum and post the video to Youtube.
  • Have the students retain the material in the core curriculum.

Task Analysis


At the conclusion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Recall key material from US History
  2. Collaborate together in groups
  3. Create digital storybooks about US History
  4. Post digital storybooks to Youtube

Performance Objectives

At the conclusion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the nature and effect of changes on society and individuals as the United States began to move from an agrarian to an industrial economy.
  2. Describe historic events through the eyes and experiences of those who were there.
  3. Explore the meaning of American culture by identifying the key ideas, beliefs, patterns of behavior, and traditions that help define it and unite all Americans.
  4. Describe the relationships between people and environments and the connections between people and places.
  5. Use a number of research skills (e.g., computer databases, periodicals, census reports, maps, standard reference works, interviews, surveys) to locate and gather geographical information about issues and problems.
  6. Collaborate with classmates in a group setting to research a provided topic.
  7. Create a digital storybook with classmates using Microsoft Moviemaker.
  8. Post a digital storybook to Youtube.

Procedural Task Analysis

It is important to note that this unit is designed to provide students with the maximum amount of time for research and development. Therefore, the first two lessons, which lay the foundation for the project, cover a great deal of information. It is critical that the classroom be organized and efficient. Students must understand that failure to cover the necessary information in the allotted time will result in less time for research and development which can affect the quality of their final products.

  • Lesson 1:
    • Students will gain an understanding of the objectives of the Digital Storybook project.
    • Students will demonstrate how to create storyboards.
  • Lesson 2:
    • Students will discuss key concepts from Chapter 13 in their text.
    • Students will discuss key concepts from Chapter 14 in their text.
  • Lessons 3-5:
    • Students will break into their assigned groups.
    • Students will research an assigned topic using the internet and literature in the school library.
  • Lesson 6:
    • Students will demonstrate a basic ability to create videos using Microsoft Moviemaker.
  • Lesson 7:
    • Students will demonstrate a basic ability to post videos to Youtube.
    • Students will submit completed storyboards.
  • Lessons 8-13:
    • Students will create their digital storybook videos and upload them to Youtube.
  • Students will present their videos for two days.
  • Students will review the content from Chapters 13, and 14 for one day.
  • Students will complete an exam File:SS7 Unit V Exam.doc on the last day of the unit.



Prior to beginning this unit, students must be able to:

  1. Divide responsibility among group members.
  2. Access computer accounts.
  3. Take notes from their textbook independently.
  4. Take notes during a class discussion on US History.
  5. Describe the economy of 19th century United States as capitalism.
  6. Explain the social and geographic differences of the Northern and Southern United States during the early 19th century.
  7. Understand the geographic impact on the trend toward sectionalism in the United States during the 19th century.
  8. Create a bibliography


During this unit, it is important for students to be able to:

  1. Sympathize with characters of history to help understand their motivation.
  2. Understand the impact of culture on different regions of 19th century United States.
  3. Search required topics using Google.
  4. Identify reliable and unreliable sources on the internet.
  5. Access and use Microsoft Moviemaker.
  6. Access and use Youtube.

US History Digital Storybook Curriculum Map

US History Digital Storybook Curriculum Map.jpg

Mike Porter

ETAP 623 Spring 2010