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Standardized Test Cram Sheet for 8th Grade American History

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

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Need some help with your American History lessons? Take a peek at state standardized test cram sheet.

I go over this overhead to my students just before they begin their state standardized test on American History.

Here's my story: My first year teaching I was dying to see other teachers' plan books, but most of them were either blank or didn't seem suitable for our students ("high-risk" with poor reading skills). After teaching American history to 8th graders for a few years, I've developed this webpage in the hopes that it can help first year teachers get an idea of what to do, or help out some experienced teachers freshen up some lessons. Just to let you know, my "at-risk" students have the same passing rate on the history portion of the state standardized exam as the "advanced" students.

Below is my cram sheet for our state standardized test for Texas. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. Please visit my Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History to see my classroom set up, procedures, grading, use of textbook, exam ideas, etc.

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How I Review for the State Standardized Text

I cram the entire year of American History in one week. I have the students fill in the blanks on worksheets that I have printed out as we go over the notes together on Powerpoint Slides such as colonial-beginnings-american-history-outline . I read the words on the slides, get to a blank, and then ask if anyone knows what to fill in the blank. As the students write in the missing words, I explain it a bit more.

The only reason why this is effective is because I never teach this way throughout the year. This would be a dreadful way to teach American History, but it works well as a "cram session review."

The day that the students take the history portion of the standardized exam, I have all the teachers on my team (who have my students taking the test in their classrooms) project the "Cram Sheet" below and read it to the students just before they take the exam.

I created this "Cram Sheet" using any definitive facts that were listed in the state standards. Each state has different standards, and the standards for Texas have probably changed since I was teaching. You might need to adjust your list to whatever your standards are currently.


Cram Sheet for State Standardized Test

Review this with students just before taking American History portion of TAKS

*Important Years:

1. 1607 - Jamestown settled - first successful British colony in New World (House of Representatives)

2. 1776 - Declaration of Independence/American Revolution

3. 1787 - Constitutional Convention

4. 1803 - Louisiana Purchase (doubled size of America)

5. 1861-1865 - Civil War

*Colonial America:

1. New England: Puritans; Shipbuilding and trading; Big cities next to harbors

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2. Middle: Melting Pot; William Penn and Quakers; Grains

3. Southern: Plantation owners - Tobacco - Cotton - Slaves

Mayflower Compact, Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and House of Burgesses led to growth of representative/self-government.

*Key People in American Revolution:

1. Samuel Adams - Led Sons of Liberty

2. Thomas Jefferson - Wrote Declaration of Independence; 3rd President (Louisiana Purchase)

3. Thomas Paine - Wrote Common Sense

4. King George III - King of England during American Revolution

*Key Battles and end in American Revolution:

1. Saratoga - led to French involvement in American Revolution

2. Yorktown - last major battle of American Revolution

3. Treaty of Paris (1783) - end American Revolution: England agrees to American Independence


1. Unalienable Rights - rights that can't be taken away, listed in Declaration of Independence as Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness

2. Compromises at Constitutional Convention: Great Compromise: - how to decide representation in Congress (VA plan [large states] + NJ plan [small states])

3. Bill of Rights - 1st 10 amendments of Constitution guaranteeing individual rights; 1st Amendment: freedom of speech, press, religion, and petition

4. First political parties over ratification (passing) Constitution: Federalists (Madison & Hamilton): want to pass Constitution as is vs. Anti-Federalists (Patrick Henry): not want to pass Constitution without addition of Bill of Rights

5. 13, 14, 15 Amendments: passed after Civil War to abolish slavery

Industrial Revolution:

1. Eli Whitney: Cotton Gin (makes cotton king in South) & Interchangeable Parts (led to mass production)

2. Robert Fulton invents Steamboat

3. Andrew Jackson as President = rise of common man in politics


1. Fredrick Douglass - black abolitionist

2. Elizabeth Cady Stanton - led women's right's movement (Senaca Falls)

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe - Uncle Tom's Cabin

Civil War Leaders:

1. Jefferson Davis - President of Confederate States of America (South)

2. Ulysses S. Grant - U.S./Northern General

3. Robert E. Lee - Southern General surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse

Help for Test Prep: The Two Books I Use for Helpful Visuals

I have posted my entire lesson plan book with the daily lesson plans for the entire year of 8th Grade US History. I posted each unit on a different page. You can see the lessons I posted for the first few weeks of school by clicking on the below links. After that, you can follow the links toward the bottom of each page in order to move to the next set of lessons.

Weeks 1-2: First Week of School & Geography Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

Weeks 3-8: Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plans

Weeks 8-13: American Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 13-16: Constitution Lesson Plans

Week 17: American Literature Lesson Plans

Weeks 18-19: Our New Nation Lesson Plans

Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 23-26: Westward Expansion & Roads to Freedom Lesson Plans

Weeks 26-30: Civil War Lesson Plans

Standardized Test Cram Sheet

This attempts to give an overview of American History in 15 minutes. It has nice visual clips.

How Do You Prepare Your Students for the State Test? - Or Just leave a comment. I love getting feedback from you!

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 05, 2013:

@esperonsa: Thank you so much for visiting! I'm glad you found it to be helpful! No, I haven't modified the lessons to the new STAAR tests and won't be doing that as I'm no longer teaching 8th grade American History. I would presume the standards would be similar. I made the cram sheet by simply going over the standards we had when I was teaching, and I listed any information that was specifically stated in the standards.

esperonsa on September 05, 2013:

I am a new teacher who is not a history teacher who is teaching history. I love your ideas! Have you modified this lesson any due to the new STAAR tests?

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