WBA Inquiry Units

Since the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the United States has transformed from a small, agricultural, slave society—based on the rights of the few—into a large, industrial democracy based on the ideal of freedom for all. Who Built America (WBA) units ask teachers and students to examine the role of ordinary people in these social, political, and economic changes and to think about how this past matters to us today. We believe that students are most motivated to learn history when they see people like themselves and their family members in the past, and begin to understand its relevance to the present and to their own lives. 

Each WBA inquiry unit addresses one of four essential questions about ongoing efforts of Americans to build a nation:

  • How should the United States treat other nations and their people?
  • How do ordinary people change society and government?
  • What are fair working conditions and how have workers fought for them?
  • How do communities help people survive injustice?

WBA units are designed to help teachers and students effectively bring Common Core into the History Classroom. In every unit:

  • Each lesson is aligned to specific content objectives called historical understandings, as well as to historical thinking skills and concepts and to Common Core standards.
  • The Inquiry Introduction lesson engages students with the essential question (in addition, some units include a Setting the Stage lesson that builds student understanding of the historical context).
  • Making Sense of Evidence lessons feature close reading of documents; not all lessons are required. Some lessons include different High School and Middle School versions of procedures or documents.
  • The Writing Task lesson consists of both teacher and student instructions for the unit writing tasks, and include a High School and Middle School version.
  • Lesson 6 is an optional concluding lesson designed to further deepen students’ historical understandings and/or Common Core skills.

To earn a Journeyman Builder badge, select a unit to study, plan, teach, and then revise. WBA History Educators will be on hand to provide feedback and answer questions.