The ``National Standards for United States History'' divide US history into 10 eras from ``Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)'' to ``Contemporary United States (1968 to Present).'' They suggest goals in two areas: historical thinking skills (that ``enable students to evaluate evidence, ... and construct sound historical arguments'') and historical understandings (that ``define what students should know about the history of their nation and the world'').The following are excerpts from the standards: Era 1. Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)

Standard 1C

Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the characteristics of West African societies in the era of European contact by:

Grades 5-12. Describing the physical and cultural geography of West Africa and analyzing its impact on settlement patterns and trade.

Grades 5-12. Locating the political kingdoms of Mali, Songhai, and Benin, and urban centers such as Timbuktu and Jenne, and analyzing their importance and influence.

Grades 9-12. Describing how family organization, gender roles, and religion shaped West African societies.

Grades 7-12. Appraising the influence of Islam and Muslim culture on West African societies. ERA 3. Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

Standard 3B

Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the new government it established by:

Grades 5-12. Analyzing the factors involved in calling the Constitutional Convention, including Shays's Rebellion.

Grades 7-12. Analyzing the alternative plans considered by the delegates and the major compromises agreed upon to secure the approval of the Constitution.

Grades 9-12. Analyzing the fundamental ideas behind the distribution of powers and the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution.

Grades 9-12. Comparing the arguments of Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the ratification debates and assess their relevance in late 20th-century politics.

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