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.

Featured image credit: link

Reflections after Museum Visit

Honestly, I don’t really have much experience with designing curriculum or lessons, so I feel a bit out of my depth at this stage. I’m not really sure what’s possible or desirable. On the other hand, it’s also exciting to be part of such a project, and to be getting some of this experience. I look forward to seeing what we can do.

At the museum, I really appreciated the information on Portland’s Jewish community, and the effort to tie the Holocaust to the personal stories and experience of people in that community, and to the broader context of Oregon’s history and various experiences of dehumanization and discrimination within it. This is, after all, specifically Portland’s Holocaust memorial; it seems it should reflect Portland and the people here. I especially thought it was helpful to see the video about the construction of the memorial and the interviews with the people involved with that, what they were thinking and feeling, etc. I also appreciated the map of the camps—I think it would really help contextualize what to students might just be obscure-sounding names like “Treblinka” or “Chelmno.” I found myself wishing more information like this had been available at the memorial site; I think that would be a good place to start.


Featured Image credit: link

Christianity in Asia

The history of the Church of the East, historically often known as the Nestorian Church, is a fascinating and often overlooked element of both the history of Christianity, and of religion in Asia.


Nestorian Stele. Image credit: link

The “Nestorian Stele” in Xi’an, erected in AD 781, records Christian missionary efforts, monasteries, bishops, and other figures in Tang dynasty China.1



The Church of the East in the Middle Ages. Image credit: link

This map illustrates the extent of the Church of the East during the Middle Ages. For a time, it was geographically the largest branch of Christianity.



Mar Gewargis III. Image credit: link

Mar Gewargis III was enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East in 2015.3


1 Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar W. Winkler, The Church of the East: A Concise History, trans. Miranda G. Henry (New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 47–48.

2Baum and Winkler, The Church of the East, 1.

3Christoph Baumer, The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity, new ed. (New York, NY: I.B. Tauris, 2016), 288.

Featured Image credit: Adobe Spark (Original image: Anuradhapura cross)