Using U.S. News Map

Chronicling America and the U.S. News Map site would be useful tools that might allow students to take a more broad view of societal issues during the period in question (1836–1922). I’m thinking that range would be great for a unit on Reconstruction, or racial tensions from the Civil War through civil rights. Students could be presented with the tools and prompted to search relevant vocabulary (perhaps reconstruction, lynching, or confederate) and see who was talking about it and when. This could largely be self-directed (after learning the vocab), with maybe an assignment sheet asking a few open-ended questions about what they learned. This would be a great introduction to historical research.

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I made a screencast showing how to export a document in Pages to either Word or PDF format. This might be useful to students who work on Macs but can’t submit work in Pages format.

Screencasting/slidecasting seems most useful for either tutorial videos explaining how to do something on the computer for students, or perhaps to deliver content in a flipped classroom model. Challenges might include the teacher not knowing how to perform the desired function either, distribution to students who may have difficulty accessing it, and recording, which is always stressful and frustrating for the teacher.

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Christopher Columbus

Instructional goal: Use sourcing and contextualizing to analyze primary sources, to determine motivation/causation of an event and to provide evidence for a historical argument.


Intro: Write one sentence summarizing what you think motivated Columbus to set out on his voyage.


Access the following selections from Columbus’s journal: here

Access the following selections from Columbus’s letters: here and here

In reading groups, discuss and answer the following questions for each selection:

  • When was this written?
  • To whom was this written/who was the intended audience?
  • What might have been Columbus’s purpose in writing this?
  • [Extension: what information/context/perspective is missing?]


Then, individually, add evidence from these sources to at least two different sections of your graphic organizers on what motivated Columbus’s voyage. [Extension: add evidence to another section.]


As a class: discuss whether we need to revise/expand/add to any of our arguments about Columbus’s character. (Ongoing project, recorded on a graphic organizer and updated with each lesson.)


Exit slip: Add one of your pieces of evidence to the appropriate poster on Columbus’s motivations in a gallery walk.


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