I have chosen to write a lesson on the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Studying Salem can lead to many aspects of New England colonial life (such as land disputes and religious controversy).Besides the ability to tie into other aspects of New England colonial culture, I chose the Salem Witchcraft Trials because it is a subject of extreme interest that I currently do not have a solid lesson plan on. Doing this lesson will give students a much better perspective on New England colonial life. Rather than focusing on the Middle Passage and slavery in the middle and southern colonies during my 13 Colonies unit, I can now tie in New England colonial life much better than simply teaching the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans. Our curriculum moves through colonization to the Revolution very quickly. This lesson will be a valued addition to my resources because it will be a good quick study of something students always ask about. In the past I have moved from Pilgrims and Puritans to a general study of the middle and southern colonial regions focusing on the Middle Passage and slavery. This lesson could also be used to teach primary and secondary documents.
I have used many websites to gather information for this lesson. It was difficult to stop myself from adding excessive documents. As a hook into the lesson I will probably use a Family Guy clip easily found on youtube to demonstrate the hysteria that swept Salem. From the hook I will move to a few documents that I have not created questions for because I want students to begin thinking and inferring about witchcraft. These background documents include a few bible verses from the Old Testament (Exodus 22:18 and Leviticus 20:27). What I want to use these for is to prove to students that witchcraft was not a random idea in colonial America but something that has been in society for thousands of years. My other background document is a picture of the court room during the trials. Discussion of this picture can go as far as the teacher wants it to. From there students will be introduced into the documents.
The documents I used were warrants, indictments, examinations, eyewitness accounts, and a drawing of Giles Corey being pressed to death. On Eyewittnesshistory.com I found a good introduction of the trials that also introduces Martha Corey. I was also able to find primary sources from Martha’s trial on etext.virginia.edu. I believe these sources will be valuable to the lesson because they will introduce students to the witchcraft trials and the students will also get a quick case study of one of the victims. To add to the story I included a picture and description of her husband’s, Giles Corey, death.
This lesson could be taught across many grade levels, I will teach it in 8th grade. I will teach this lesson in my Colonies Unit. This lesson will address Colorado History Standard #1 which reads “Formulate appropriate hypotheses about United States history based on a variety of historical sources and perspectives.” It will specifically hit the evidence outcome “a” which reads “Use and interpret documents and other relevant primary and secondary sources pertaining to United States history from multiple perspectives.”
All sources used are found online. I also plan to use a smart board to help students analyze documents.
Essential questions that applies to this lesson:
What were the Salem Witchcraft Trials?
Who were the Corey’s?
What did people do to be accused of witchcraft?
(depends a bit on students prior knowledge and where a teacher wants to take the lesson)
Goals/Objectives can include:
I will examine the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 and explain specific acts people were accused of.
I will analyze the case of Martha Corey to obtain a better understanding of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
My overall goal of this lesson is to give students a general knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials and to have a basic understanding of what type of behavior “witches” were accused of. To be fair, this lesson leaves out a lot of content (in large part of the amount of time I can commit to) and can easily be expanded by giving students information on Salem. Such as land, political, and religious disputes between families in Salem but I do think this less will reach my overall goal stated above.
Sequence of Activities:
Warm up (10 min.)- Why were people accused of Witchcraft?
What were the Salem Witch Trials of 1692?
-This might be a good time to explain some of the underlying social unrest in Salem. A good transition could easily be to introduce students to Witchcraft history quotes and image of Salem Witch Trials.(first page of document packet)
Class reading and discussion of Witchcraft History (20 min.)
All of these documents will be taught differently depending on class skill levels and what is best for the students. They can be used for a traditional jig saw activity, an “OUT” activity, or simply as an individual or group study. Any way they are used, a teacher will definitely need to go over and work with these documents with the students. It would be good idea to use a Cognitive Modeling activity with the Introduction and maybe the second. Students can be released to work on their own or groups pending on skill levels. I have had classes where I have had to go over every single document in a DBQ and then I have had some that after the first document students are confident and able to complete the DBQ on their own or working with peers.
Each document has its own set of questions to guide students through the document and lead students to give a general explanation of the Salem Witchcraft Trials and what type of behavior people accused of witchcraft were accused of. There are numerous questions that students could be asked to answer but perhaps, as with other disciplines, maybe the most efficient way to assess students’ knowledge is to ask open ended questions. For example, What do you know about the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692? Or Who were Martha and Giles Corey? Questions like these, I have found, allow students more freedom to write what they know rather than getting caught up on finding that one detail that they think the teacher wants to hear. I will, most likely, assess students’ understanding of the Salem Witchcraft Trials by asking students to write at least a paragraph answering an open ended question.
Bibliography: “A History of Witchcraft Persecutions,” http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/witchhistory.html.
I used this website to get some information on the history of witchcraft. This a great site that takes witchcraft from the Old Testament through the ages to the last witch executed in England in 1682. “Biography of Giles Corey,” http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/sal_bcor.htm.
This is as the title suggests and was used in the last document I included on Giles Corey. It gives a brief overview of who he was and how he died. It is much easier reading for students than court records. “The Salem Witch Trials, 1692,” http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/salem.htm.