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Monday, October 6, 2014

More on Columbus Day--and Favorite Lessons

Cheyenne Aldrich of Billings had this great idea in response to my recent Columbus Day post. "I turned the table around and asked my 11th grade US History students to prepare a lesson plan on how they thought Columbus should be taught. They got to decide what age they wanted to "teach" and what would be appropriate for that age to learn."

She also sent in some lesson suggestions in response to Favorite High School Lessons

Multiple Perspectives: One of my favorite lessons that I have students do is to look at multiple perspectives of the Battle of Little Bighorn. My "hook" is to have the students look at the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company's depiction of the Battle. I usually begin the discussion with something like "what does a beer company have to do with Custer's Last Stand?"  It seems to be a fairly nice way to get seniors to talk about perspective, biases, agendas, intentions (all of the words history teachers love) without them even realizing it. Then I have the students complete the Multiple Perspectives Assignment using the resources found on this website: http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listmultipleca.html 

After a couple days of looking at the different resources we usually end up with a nice discussion of the Battle but also about the idea "What is history?" if every event has at least this many (most are left out) different perspectives, biases, agendas, intentions, etc. how do we know what really happened? And if we don't know what "really" happened what's the point in studying history at all?

One lesson that never disappoints: This one could be used for any era, but I usually use it in relation to allotment, homesteading, the Dawes Act, etc., is to have the students write a reverse poem. Here is the example that I show the students:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA 
This poems seems to resonate strongly with students and sets the bar high...these are really hard to do! Try it with your students! For homesteading it might read dreams one way and realities the other. Another idea my be to read one way for the Dawes Act and another way against the Dawes Act. We share our poems together in class and discuss the historical significance behind each poem. Each time that I have done this in class there has been a "goosebump" moment. I think students realize how hard it is to do, so when it is done well by another student they have some appreciation. Here is an example of one that a student did pertaining to the Battle of Little Bighorn. Can you tell the two different perspectives? (Read it forward. Then read it backwards.) Oh and because I try to "practice what I preach" here is mine. When you read it down it is meant to be the perspective of  Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) to his son Inmatóowyalahtq̓it (Chief Joseph) and then, reading up, it is son to father.

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