Before or after studying the United States' territorial expansion, students will want to have a good idea of the sequence of events and the steps America took to increase their land holdings. Using a timeline, students will be able to visualize each event and see how it fits in the narrative of westward expansion.
Students should begin with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and note and explain major acquisitions between 1803 and today, such as Florida, Texas, the Mexican Cession, Oregon, and for connective purposes, include the modern acquisitions of Hawaii and Alaska (both of which became states in 1959). Students will be able to analyze and explain major concepts such as manifest destiny, war, foreign relations, and culture.
For an alternative to the timeline layout, have students create a timeline poster to incorporate into a presentation or gallery walk. You can add more than one template to this assignment to give students lots of options, and update the instructions accordingly.
Have students create a timeline storyboard on post 1850s land acquisitions to exemplify America’s imperialist period. Students should include acquisitions of territories, protectorates, and wherever else America has held influence. Places that could be included: Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines.Hawaii and Alaska could also be re-introduced and explained.
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Timelines
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a timeline outlining the United States' major land acquisitions from 1803 to 1959.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
Events and Dates
The events chosen for the timeline are significant and important to the overall understanding of the time period. The dates provided are correct.
Most of the events chosen for the timeline are significant and important to the overall understanding of the time period. Most of the dates provided are correct.
Some of the events chosen for the timeline are significant. There may be missing events, or events that are irrelevant. Too many dates may be incorrect.
The explanations or descriptions provided for each event are accurate and provide insight into the significance of the events.
The explanations or descriptions provided for each event are mostly accurate and attempt to provide insight into the significance of the events.
There are several glaring inaccuracies in the explanations or descriptions of the events. There may be little or no insight int the significance of the events, or the information provided may be too limited or missing.
There are 0-2 mistakes in spelling, grammar, and mechanics.
There are 3-4 mistakes in spelling, grammar, and mechanics.
There are 5 or more mistakes in spelling, grammar, and mechanics.
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