Identifying America: Analyzing Representations of the American Identity

Deanna Kurtz, Civics/Economics, South Mecklenburg HS

Curriculum Units (pdf)


The “American Dream” is an ever-evolving ideology that drives many American families, the economy, and society. With this American Dream comes an American Identity that formulates is continuously changing. This curriculum unit encourages students to push the boundaries of commonly accepted themes within the definition of the American “Identity” to understand how and why it has evolved over time. This unit will begin with a lesson in the history of the basic American dream ideology and its origins. It will then move into having students conduct research to gain a deeper understanding of the social and economic changes that have occurred over the decades and have led to the evolution of the ideology. Students will be tasked with presenting a researched explanation of their interpretation of the evolution of the American Dream ideology and conclude with their own interpretation of the current American dream and American identity. Students will also create a monument that encompasses their personal ideologies. The methods used within this unit will move from direct instruction, towards group, and eventually individualized instruction through use of lecture, annotated readings, jigsaw readings and research, and eventually individual research. Use of these methods will allow students to learn how to do effective research, including how to find informative and educational resources, how to interpret new research findings, and how to effectively communicate a position regarding a subjective topic with supportive from beneficial resources.