Sample Lesson Plan 1
Students will be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources
Before class, or on an earlier day, arrange to have a fake "argument" with a student in the class about their cheating on a recent exam. As students are entering the room on the day of the lesson, make the announcement that you recently overheard some students talking in the hallway about your pre-selected student cheating on one of your quizzes. Accuse the student in front of the class and allow an argument to ensue.
After several minutes of argument, instruct the class to freeze, and immediately and silently write down on a piece of paper what:
A) They perceived the argument to be about
B) How each person involved reacted
C) The result of the argument
After they have had sufficient time to write, share out the responses and compare and contrast the varying interpretations of a singular event in this class. Explain that multiple perspectives are the biggest challenge for historians, and how one event can have multiple meanings.
Introduction to New Material:
Introduce the concept of a "secondary source." Explain that, in our example, the varying perspectives of the class constituted secondary sources because they were all
commenting on what they saw. They were, in effect, outside of the actual action. Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, the History Channel, and any other outside or later comment or interpretation on an event.
Introduce the concept of a "primary source." Explain that, in our example, if the student or the teacher were to write down
interpretation of the events that transpired, that would be a primary source because it is a person who is living through history, commenting on the history that is happening to them. Examples of this often include journals, court documents from bygone ages, and other events that transcribe events from the age it was written.
Give students a series of passages in a packet that are clearly discernable to be either primary or secondary. Read through the first two passages together on an overhead transparency. One should be primary and the other secondary. Make sure to ask students
they believe each passage to be primary or secondary, and have them list characteristics that lead them to believe that to be true.
Students will read through a series of passages for the rest of the period, identifying them as either primary or secondary, with a short explanation for why they believe that to be true.
Sample Lesson Plan 2
Students will be able to explain how bias can influence historical understanding.
Display a picture of a close-call at home plate between the Red Sox and the Yankees (or your local rivalry - for New Haven, this works great) on the overhead. Read the students the following scenario:
"It is the top of the 9th inning of the 7th game of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Yankees. There are two outs and the bases are loaded and the Red Sox are down by one run. The ball is hit, and a runner on third comes flying home just as the ball makes it back to the plate and this close play is made. The whole crowd is on their feet waiting for the umpire to make the call and. . ."
Give students five to finish the story and make a note at the top of the page as to which team they support in real life. Have students share out their responses with the class, making a point to announce at the beginning of each response which team they personally root for. Invariably, those students who support the Red Sox will have the Red Sox win in the story, and those students who support the Yankees will have the Yankees win. Have students hypothesize why this is.
Introduction to New Material
Explain to students that just like we perceived a bias in our initial writing prompt, based upon whom each student personally favored, similar problems exist with history. Many times writers who transcribe history in primary sources are
, meaning that they have a particular way of viewing the world that influences their opinion.
Distribute copies of two current events news articles on the same event from one historically conservative newspaper and one historically liberal newspaper. Ask students to read through the two articles, and identify the perspective of the author who is writing the article. Important things to ask include: "Who does this author side with?" "What important details does one author include that the other does not?" "How do these pieces of information affect how we view the piece and reflect that authors' position?"
Distribute copies of the primary sources the students will use for their projects. Ask students to read through these primary sources and identify any biases that they believe the author may have possessed when writing their historical account. You may put a questionnaire in worksheet format if it would be appropriate for your students.
Sample Lesson Plan 3
Students will be able to use Google Earth to plot their explorer's route.
Establish expectations for computer lab use that are tailored to your district and school policy.
Introduction to New Material
Ask students to load Google Earth on their computers. Walk them through the following functions.
Rotating and spinning the Earth
To spin the earth, simply click and hold on the model globe, then rotate it as if you were to rotate a globe in real life. You can also use the controls on the top right to angle and zoom it.
Finding a specific place on the Earth
To find a specific city or town, use the search box in the upper left-hand corner of the program to type in a city place or name (for example, New York, NY) and then click the magnifying glass. The program will automatically zoom in for you.
Putting a "placemark" on the Earth
To put a placemark or landmark on the globe, simply click the pushpin button at the top of the window. A box will appear asking you for specifics about what you wish to name that placemark. Students should name their placemarks after the names of the locations visited by their traveler. When they have dragged their placemark to the correct location, and named their placemark, they may click "ok" to save and keep it.
Give students a series of locations to find and "placemark" on the planet. Make sure that your selection of locations is diverse in format, so that students may glean a better understanding of how flexible the search engine for the program is. A good list might include: New York, NY, The Rocky Mountains, The Eiffel Tower, and Tokyo, Japan. Each of these samples is formatted differently and includes both cities in the United States, as well as in other countries, and includes landforms and landmarks. You may tailor the list to your liking.
After students have mastered the basics of Google Earth, ask them to use their primary source to located three major places that their explorer visited when they were traveling. Supervise and monitor as needed.