Students will utilize historical thinking skills in order to analyze primary documents. Students will work individually or in heterogeneous small groups to scaffold learning. Students will write a thesis addressing the question, how should our society view military service and its experiences in times of war. This thesis shall be supported by textual evidence.
Can we use Myths, Legends and/or stories as sources when studying history?
The audience would be a 9th grade MWH class.
I would run this lesson early in the year as as introduction to sourcing non-traditional source material. Students would consider Myth and Legend as a possible historical source. Students will examine oral history, and the challenges that come with transcription, exaggeration and allegory.
Materials: TedED video, The science behind the myth: Homer’s “Odyssey”. Youtube video Densho Oral History, Kara Kondo. Map with markers at Mt. Etna, ‘Pluto’s Gate”, Crimea.
Class will start with a the watching of a brief video.
The first question students will be asked is, is this history? What separates a story from history? What are some questions we have to keep in mind with oral history?
The teacher will than tell a brief family story. Following this students will be asked to write a brief story from their own lives, or family. Students will than share this story with a partner, if they feel comfortable. Several students will have the opportunity to share. Questions following this will be, can we learn anything about the time from these stories? Are stories ever exaggerated? Do stories we tell always mirror reality?
The TedED video will be briefly introduced, with some background on Homer. The class will watch the video.
Questions following the video: Why do you think this story would have any importance to the Greeks? What are they trying to remember? Based off what you have seen, do you think Myth’s have any value to the historian?
Following this the class will break into groups, for each of the areas with a pin on the map there shall be several passages from Myth, taken from, Travelling Heroes : In the Epic Age of Homer, students will contrast these myths with our modern knowledge of the areas to make connections or an argument against these myths having basis in geographical reality.
For this lesson I would use the Green Book in conjunction with the reading of the Young Adult book, The Watsons go to Birmingham. This activity would take place following the completion of the book and have the students plan their own road trip. The lesson would begin with a short discussion on The Great Migration and some of the differences between life in the North and the South using their previous reading as a guide.
Students will be introduced to the Green Book as a historical source and the teacher will project the Watson’s fictional trip on the screen as a demonstration on how to use the tool. This will be followed by a class discussion of the Green Book, sundown towns, and the implications about American society at the time. Students will be encouraged to draw parallels from other eras of history that they have learned about in past lessons, mayhap the early Nuremberg laws.
Following this students will draw a location in the North and South from a hat, and use the Green Book in order to plan a trip from the assigned locations. Students will be encouraged to check and see if any of the locations on their trip are still open using basic google searches.
As a exit ticket students will be asked to reflect on the Green Book tool and encouraged to ask several questions,When the Green Book was written, 1950’s, do you think it took longer than today to travel long distances? Do you think the mapping tools assumption of 750 miles a day is feasible or based off modern technology? How do you think the trip you planned would differ from an actual trip at the time? Students would be reminded to use the Watsons trip for context.
This discussion took place at the end of our unit on Greek Government. Within, students were asked to support either Oligarchy or Democracy by taking the side of Sparta or Athens while creating an argument supporting each. This was our first Socratic Seminar of the year, and for the majority of our students their first exposure to the Socratic method.
The set up for this discussion was to divide the room into three parts. Students would either sit in the Spartan, Athenian or undecided section.Students had been allowed to do research the previous class, and had written one question and one argument relevant to the conversation. Students who were undecided had been asked to be active inquirers, to make up for the fact they did not have to defend a Polis. Students were not locked into their choices, and could switch sides at breaks in the discussion. The class would end with a vote, based off of student support for Athens or Sparta, our own fictional City state would chose to follow either a Democratic or Oligarchic form of government.
The discussion changed with each period though there were several commonalities. First, it became readily apparent that the the teacher must act as an active mediator, to ensure only one student was speaking at once, and to enforce discussion norms. With the more exuberant students dominating the discussion, it also becomes important to encourage quiet students. A strategy I appreciated was encouraging students to work in pairs, this allowed one of the two to act as the spokesperson and ensured all students took part in the discussion.
Much of the value within this debate, came from setting students up for future Socratic seminars. Though it initially proved a tad chaotic, for their first formal academic discourse the students seemed engaged, and were thinking about the material. In the future, I would like to make the discussion more accessible by granting more student aids and materials going into it. For though the majority of students participated, it seemed they were almost performing a distasteful duty for a grade rather than engaging meaningfully with the material. As we continue to have Socratic seminars throughout the year, it is going to be interesting to track students progress and monitor their engagement.