Primary Sources and History: Learning about the Wounded Knee Massacre Through Primary Sources

In this lesson, students will be exploring the importance of primary source documents as well as their use in understanding the past. This lesson particularly focus’ on the Wounded Knee Massacre through accounts of those who were there such as Flying Hawk and Black Elk and images such as a drawing depicting the start of the battle. In this lesson, students will not only learn about the Wounded Knee Massacre but also about the importance of primary sources and how to analyze an event using multiple different forms of primary sources.

Wounded Knee Massacre
Lesson Designed By Nick Campagna
Go to this Sway

Native Americans, American Mythology and Westward Expansion

This lesson was designed for a high school class going over Western Expansion. In particular, this lesson will be used to teach students on the plights of the Native Americans of the time and the attitudes towards Native Americans as well as the mythology that steeped the old west. 

This lesson would be in the middle of our westward expansion movement and would cover conflicts with Native Americans as well as a broad overview of the movement westward. I feel that this adds a new layer onto existing lessons which typically focus on the wagons trains and settlers moving west rather than talking about what happened to the people that lived there in the first place.

This lesson was created using Edpuzzle by inserting a crash course on western expansion and littering it with open ended questions both on the movement west and the treatment of Native Americans. The lesson follows the crash course and asks open ended questions in intervals throughout the video. This allows students to follow the video and answer question simultaneously. 

Students will be answering the following questions:

  1. How do you think the west was mythologized? does it continue today?
  2. What was the promise of moving westward?
  3. What is one reason Green cites as being a point of conflict between the Native Americans and settlers?
  4. Was Native American resistance purely violent? What was formed around 1890 as a form of resistance?
  5. What was a key point of the Dawes Act? Was this a common theme in American’s views on Native Americans?
  6. How did the US government set to assimilate the Native Americans?
  7. What is partial responsible for the image of the cowboy and why?

I really like the idea of Edpuzzle as it adds an interesting dynamic to watching videos in the class by allowing teachers to pose questions during the video itself. I think this is a vast improvement over giving a study guide and simply watching videos and answering questions. It allows students to take apart the video at their leisure which is a vast change from  the “you missed it, move on” model of watching videos in a classroom usually.  

Teaching With Data

For my lesson, I will be using the State of the Union in Context which is a website that analyzes words in the state of the Union as said by previous presidents and displays a graph based on the frequency of the word usage.

My lesson would start as an introduction to the presidency and a history of the challenges presidents have had to face during their time in office. The lesson then would be based around the students taking a noun such as a name or place and looking it up with the website. The students would then briefly research the presidents that pop up on the bar graph and what the word means to them. For example, one could look up ‘Afghanistan’ and the four most prominent presidents that appear on the bar graph are George W. Bush, Obama, Carter, an Reagan .          


I would then have the student research these presidents briefly and have them find out why that word was so important to their respective presidencies. Students would them present their findings to the class. Overall, this lesson would not only teach students about the different situations that presidents had to face but also could show the similar circumstances that presidents faced such as war and economic depression.

Socratic Seminar

The context of the lesson is that my CT and I had just finished a unit based on American expansion and progression. The unit would cover things such as the American expansion westward, the Gilded Age, Progressive Era and Women’s Suffrage. The major question given over the course of the unit was “How should progress be defined in America?”.

For our discussion method, we used an affinity mapping exercise in order to have a conversation on the unit. Students were given a stick note and asked to briefly give their definition as to what should define progress in America and why. They were asked to put these sticky notes on the board near the question. We then challenged students to take the sticky notes and arrange them into categories based on what was similar. After the students had done this, we would have a group discussion on the categories and why the students had decided to write about them in particular.

I learned from this experience the  need to diversify discussion activities. Prior to this, we had the students just share aloud with the class what they thought and if was often difficult to get them to respond, particularly 1st period. When we tried this new discussion technique, the students were more energetic and willing to answer. From now on, I plan to incorporate multiple types of discussion activities into my lessons.