Peter will also lead the class in some exercises exploring “Close Reading” in using historical documents. Close Reading Hand Out
Next week there will be no class on Oct 16th because of Fall break. Students will use the time to work on our Holocaust Memorial Project. You can follow our progress at our evolving website – Oregon Holocaust Memorial
Each student will design a lesson using one or more historical thinking skills. They are free to use hard copy delivery or a digital format. The lesson should be posted in accessible form in a blog post.
This lesson is meant to serve as a transition from the first cities of humanity and into the world of Ancient Mesopotamia. This lesson serves to teach students the value of artists renderings versus the use of tradition evidence.
A working knowledge of the origins of the first cities.
The lifestyles of nomadic peoples and city dwellers.
Learning Segment Goal:
Students will apply their precious knowledge of early humanity to answer questions that focus on the comparison between the Sumerian City Dwellers and the Nomadic Shepherds of the Middle East. Students will also begin to question what makes a primary source valuable and what place speculation has in history and archaeology.
Part 1: Shelter
Students will begin the class by looking at these two images that would be projected onto the board.
After looking at these two images, the students will be asked a series of questions that pertain to who lived in these societies and why they chose to live there. Possible questions could include:
What kind of people do you think lived in each?
What is the main difference you see between the two images to the side?
Why do you think some individuals decided to live in Image 1 and not Image 2?
Simply put these two images depict ways of life that have existed simultaneously since the Neolithic era: those of the city-dwellers and the nomadic peoples. Though more pronounced in the days of Sumer, these two groups have co-existed since ancient days. By looking at these pictures, the goal is to teach the students about function of architecture and how that relates to the way we choose to live our lives.
Part 2: Food
This section of the lesson is meant to teach the students about how the choice of food for a society can affect the way they live, beyond dietary and health reasons. Again the students will be called to look at a pair of images. This time however, the students will be asked to match the appropriate images from part one. On the projector, all four images should be displayed.
After the students match the images individually, they will present their choices to the class. Once the correct answers are established, the teacher will ask questions pertaining to what is in the image and how it pertains to the images of shelter in the previous section. Possible questions include:
What are pictured in the above images?
Why would the people in both images choose to live in either form of shelter? What are the advantages of moving? What are the advantages of staying in the same place?
The purpose of these questions should be to get the learner to examine the cause and effect relationship that is food and shelter.
Part 3: Contextualizing Sources
This final portion of the lesson is meant to serve as an introduction in to historical methodology by utilizing the images/sources we have just used. The teacher would open up the section by asking if the students have noticed anything about the majority of the images. The answer to this is that most of the images are not photographs but drawings or renderings of objects. The following questions will then be asked of the students:
Why aren’t actual photographs of the city of Ur useful for learning about it?
Why are artist renderings useful as when we compare things from thousands of years ago?
Two final images will be presented in conjunction with Image 1 and 2 of part 1. These images show either an actual photograph or artists depiction.
By comparing these new images to the old ones, students should begin to understand that while actual physical evidence is key to our understanding of what has happened in the past, artist renderings allow us to fill in the blanks (in an academic sense) by literally filling in the blanks.By seeing beyond the ruins and to what was once there, we begin to see the scope of what life was like.
While designing this lesson, I became acutely aware that contextualizing is not truly apparent in the first two sections of the lesson. Instead I have come to understand that the academic knowledge that the students are learning will allow me to transition into a more direct discussion on how and why a primary source is to be considered viable. By familiarizing the students with the sources beforehand, I think this makes the final section more understandable and applicable in their eyes.
This lesson will be imbedded into a unit on World War II. Therefore, students should already know about the devastation that Germany faced in the post-WWI era. They will know that they endured a dramatic economic recession resulting from the Versailles Treaty and the Great Depression. They will understand the helpless aura of the nation at that time. As a review, we will highlight elements that led to Hitler’s rise to power.
Students will be asked to consider why Hitler was able to gain so much power and support so quickly.
Examples for students to consider: Hitler promised the downtrodden citizens a new and better life, as well as a new Germany. The Nazis attracted the unemployed, the young, and the lower middle classes.
Students will be asked to write down their own definition of Nationalism and then share it with their neighbors. Then a few will share them with the class. Specific elements of nationalism will be emphasized as a class: a feeling of superiority over other countries and the feeling that nations should act independently of each other.
Students will be asked to consider nationalism in Germany and the background knowledge that they know of that time when watching the propaganda video.
The Power of Propaganda:
Then the class will briefly go over the definition of propaganda and how students think it could have been employed in WWII Germany.
Students will then watch the propaganda film: Triumph des Willens (1935). By Leni Riefenstahl
Before they begin watching, each student will be divided into “element groups” and asked to consider one of the following key aspects of the film: the soundtrack, the tone and noise of crowds and speakers, and the visual elements.
The class will watch the opening scene of Hitler flying into Nuremberg and then Hitler’s speech at minute 55:00.
Starter thought provoking question: What do you think Hitler’s entrance from the sky symbolizes? ——- Students will write down their own answers and then share with each other, hopefully noticing that his descent from the sky alludes to his representation as a “savior”.
As a class, students will look at a timeline of events in pre-war Germany. The teacher will guide them into noticing the events in the year 1924, the year before the propaganda was filmed. Students will therefore notice that on August 2nd, Hitler became president in addition to chancellor. Furthermore, on August 19th, a plebiscite was held to determine Hitler’s support. 90% said that they approved of his powers. For a timeline: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/nazi-germany-timeline/
Students will then meet with the other members of their “element groups” and share their findings about the significance of the elements they noticed. Then they will split into groups of three with those of different “element groups” and share their new ideas. They will be asked to consider their answers in answering the future questions.
Students will be asked to answer these following questions in small groups:
Sourcing Question: Who was the intended audience of this propaganda film?
What is significant about the date that the film was released? (March 28, 1935)
How does the video reflect the overall mood of the country during that time?
How does our background information support what is seen in the video?
How can we see nationalism at play in this video?
Their answers will be shared to the whole class and we will write down answers on the board to show connections. Then students in the different element groups will contribute significant features they noticed that help support these answers.
Then students will be asked the essential question in a quick write:
Why did so many ordinary German citizens rally behind Hitler and join the Nazi Party?
We will go over this as a class after they have completed writing their individual answers.
I think that this mini lesson may need some work in its structuring. When I teach this, I want to ask these same questions and ask students to perform these tasks, but I hope to find better methods in doing so. It definitely needs to fit within an overall unit of WWII, hopefully in a world history class so that students also understand the significant after-effects that WWI caused for Germany. The main purpose of this lesson is to approach learning about Germany in WWII from a unique angle. I want students to see what led up to not simply a war, but how a desperate country rallied behind a man who promised change and a brighter future. Therefore, ordinary citizens joined a political party that we could hardly fathom ever joining. I want students to put themselves in the shoes of German citizens of the time and realize just why Hitler was able to gain so many supporters. This lesson will build upon previous lessons towards lessons on the beginning of WWII. Students will also learn about the power of nationalism and propaganda through this lesson.