Delaware Recommended Curriculum This unit has been created as an exemplary model for teachers in (re)design of course curricula. An exemplary model unit has undergone a rigorous peer review and jurying process to ensure alignment to selected Delaware Content Standards.
Designed by: Fran O’Malley, Delaware Social Studies Education Project Research Assistant: Mark Degliobizzi
Content Area: Social Studies
Grade Level: 5
Summary of Unit
This unit uses the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr as a case study in which students explore historical thinking and the question why might there be different (competing) accounts of the same event?
Summative Assessment (page 4): Students write and illustrate an “Upside Down” or “Flip Over” book that describes a single event from two different points of view.
Lesson 1 – Mean or Misunderstood?: Students analyze competing accounts of the Three Little Pigs to advance understanding of point of view and evidence.
Lesson 2 – Dueling Sounds: A bell ringing contest that simulates a duel allows students to experience an event in which point of view may impact interpretations of who won.
Lesson 3 – Tragedy at Weehawken: Students read a partial account of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton that sets the stage for a historical investigation (who fired first?).
Lesson 4 – Dueling Documents: Students unknowingly engage competing eyewitness accounts of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
Lesson 5 – Weighing the Evidence: Students weigh the evidence relating to the question, did Burr or Hamilton fire the first shot?
Lesson 6 – Dueling Images: Students use a historical thinking tool to analyze competing images of the duel, and then use the images to corroborate or refute the documentary evidence and their own interpretations.
In the 4–5 cluster, History Standard Three introduces students to the concept that historical accounts of the same event may differ because of either the differences in the evidence cited to support that historian or because different historians are different people with different ways of looking at something. A historian’s point of view influences the sources used to answer questions, which in turn affects conclusions. Students at this level will quickly get the point if you ask them if parents ever get the same story from two siblings about what started an argument. Who was the last person to use the milk and why is it sitting out on the counter? Or, who left the toothpaste out? Whose turn is it to take the trash out?
The American Revolution provides many possible opportunities to illustrate this aspect of history. On numerous occasions, the British and the Americans disagreed. An account of an event that happened before or during the war would be different depending on which side of the ocean the author lived on. Or, which side the author preferred to emerge victorious, the British or the rebels. The vocabulary used in different accounts often betrays the author’s feelings and personal bias. Alert students to look for such words. Historians may try to write unbiased history, but they can never be completely free of the personal factors that influenced their lives.
This unit addresses a number of preconceptions and misconceptions that research involving elementary students suggests are common, for example:
History is “just a bunch of facts.”
There is a single truth that we can uncover about past events.
History textbooks contain factual, authoritative accounts of the past. They also contain the “correct” answers.
Author grants permission for not-for-profit educational use in Delaware schools.
Stage 1 – Desired Results
What students will know, do, and understand
Delaware Social Studies Standards
History Standard Three 4-5a: Students will explain why historical accounts of the same event sometimes differ and will relate this explanation to the evidence presented or the point-of-view of the author.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.6 Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.