Unit Title: Interpreting the Past – The Case of the “Bloody Massacre” Designed by: Fran O’Malley Director, Delaware Social Studies Education Project



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Lesson One

Essential Questions


  • Why might historians disagree about the same historical event?

  • How might the use of sources and questions one asks influence the interpretations one arrives at?



Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1: Gathering Information
Think-Pair-Share


Project a copy of one perception illusion (e.g., Rubin Vase/Faces Illusion at http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/rubin.html or the Old Lady/Young Lady illusion at http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/womal.html). Ask students to think about what they see.

Then, have students pair-up with another student and share what each saw when they first looked at the image. Raise the following questions to the whole group:



  1. What did you see?

  2. Did anyone see something different?

  3. Ask for 2 volunteers to come up to the projected image and, using their finger or pointer, trace the outline of the image that they saw. Make sure the two volunteers arrived at different conclusions. How did each student use the source image differently to explain their conclusion?


Check for Understanding


Why might two people perceive the same thing differently? Offer an example other than the one presented in Strategy 1—be sure to highlight “how sources are used” when reviewing responses with the class.

Rubric


2 – This response gives a valid reason with an accurate and relevant example.

1 – This response gives a valid reason with an inaccurate, irrelevant, or no example.

Strategy 2: Extending & Refining
K-W-L and Jigsaw


Students should understand the historical context for the “Boston Massacre.” Have students complete the “K” column—what do they KNOW were causes of the tension that led to the Boston Massacre?

K-W-L Chart: Causes of the Boston Massacre




What I Know

What I Want to Learn

What I Have Learned










Then, ask students, “What do you WANT to learn about the Boston Massacre”? and fill in the W column of the KWL.

Jigsaw


Expert groups: Place students in 5 expert groups and assign each student to a letter A–E. Give each group one of the following to research:

  • Proclamation Line

  • Quartering Act

  • Stamp Act

  • Sugar Act

  • Stationing of British Troops in Boston

Expert group tasks:

  1. Date – find the date that each step was taken;

  2. Details – explain what each of the events involved;

  3. Effect – explain how each contributed to tensions between the colonists and British authorities.

Then, direct students to background materials regarding that time period. They may use their textbook and/or the following websites:

  • Prelude to Revolution http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/revolution/rev-prel.htm

  • A Chronology of 18th Century American History – Digital History http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/chron18.cfm

  • The Townshend Acts by John Hancock 1768 (annotated) – highlights the relationship between the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and the Quartering Act http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/documents/documents_p2.cfm?doc=281

Mixed Groups: have students move into mixed groups so that each group contains one person from the A–E expert groups. Have those in the mixed groups share and record their findings. Students can record their findings in a chart like that presented below.

Event

Date

Details: What Happened?

Effects - How Did This Contribute to Tensions?

Stamp Act










Troops Stationed in Boston










Sugar Act










Quartering Act










Troops Stationed in Boston










Then, ask the students to create a timeline of the events that they just discussed. Ask what trend developed over time [deteriorating relations between the colonists and British authorities].

After students complete their timeline, they should fill in the “L” column in their KWL charts. When students finish, lead a class-wide debriefing around the following questions:



  • Did you uncover any evidence in your sources that the colonists were responsible for the tensions?

  • Did you uncover any evidence in your sources that the British were responsible for the tensions?

  • How might the two questions just asked illustrate why historians might arrive at different conclusions [different questions might lead to different conclusions; sources could be used differently to support different conclusions]?

Content Note: You may want to discuss the colonists’ ideological (“republicanism”) suspicion of standing armies and their fears of imminent tyranny once standing armies were introduced. Historians Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood had convincingly demonstrated the fact that colonial radicals had a deep-seeded paranoia about standing armies. Some radicals believed that the British ministry was unraveling a well-designed plot to strip the colonists of their liberties. This anxiety helps to explain some of the colonists’ deep resentment toward the presence of British troops in America.
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