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Industrialization and Urbanization in America

Grade Level Grades 6-8
Resource Type Article
Standards Alignment
Common Core State Standards


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Industrialization and Urbanization in America explores the significant demographic and economic shifts that took place in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as the rise of big business ushered in an era of industrialization and urbanization across the country.

During this period, the country became an industrial giant, with vast numbers of Americans moving to the cities for factory jobs, capitalist entrepreneurs becoming exceedingly rich tycoons of big business, and inventors changing the way ordinary people lived for the better. Students also learn, however, that the benefits of industrialization and invention were not shared by all. Unskilled workers in particular struggled to find work, and when they did, often worked long hours in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions. Eventually workers formed unions to fight for better pay and working conditions, and Americans tried to rein in the power of big business and stop corruption in cities, but these efforts initially only met with limited success. The material incorporates a rich array of civics-focused knowledge, questions, and activities. In choosing the specific content to call to teachers’ and students’ attention, we have been guided by the civics test developed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

This unit includes a Student Reader, Timeline Image Cards, and Teacher Guide, providing Guided Reading Supports and the following Additional Activities: domain vocabulary exercises; a series of activities that illuminate the inventions and entrepreneurship of Thomas Edison; videos about Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Rockefeller; a fiction excerpt from Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s A Gilded Age and a look at George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate; a cideo and discussion questions about child labor; and a Unit Assessment.


Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.


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