Lesson Study: Timeline Project

Image result for american civil war

Lesson Study – Major U.S. Events before 1900

Intro: This lesson will be taught in my junior level U.S. history classes. It will take place over two class periods and is part of our introductory unit of a general review of things they should have learned last year in “Global Perspectives” before we get to the real content we are going to teach this year; U.S. history after 1900.

Content: In this lesson the students will be grouped into 8 groups of 3 or 4 students each and each group will be given one of 8 events that shaped U.S. history before 1900. They will have most of the class period to research their event and create a brief poster with a summary and at least 3 repercussions or ways our world changed because of the events. The next class period they will present their findings and the other groups will take notes on each other’s presentations. This will be pre-cursed with my CT and I giving a model presentation of a 9th and 10th event. Both research and presentation skills are being developed with this activity. Something that is a focus throughout a lot of our whole first unit and is especially highlighted for them to work on in this lesson is the ability to recognize changes or repercussions due to an event. The events are: Columbus “discovers” America, The Revolutionary War, The Declaration of Independence, the ratification of The Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s Expedition, The Civil War, The second industrial revolution, Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone, and Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.

Process: The students are given a worksheet to take notes on all 9 of the events as well as a graphic organizer to organize their note taking while researching their own event. By modeling what the final product (poster as well as the presentation) should be at the start of the assignment, the students are able to see exactly what they should be able to produce by the end. The students are doing research on the chrome books that we have in class. They only have to do work at home if they do not feel they are ready for their presentation at the end of the work day.

Product: To demonstrate their learning the students must produce a poster with a title and date of the event as well as a picture, a summary, and a list of repercussions of the event. They also must present this information orally to the rest of the class. The entire class is also producing a note sheet on all of the events that they are allowed to use on the quiz the next class period.

Evaluation: The students are evaluated on their presentation and their notes on the graphic organizer. They are also evaluated during a quiz about all 10 of the events in the next class. This helps to check for retention of their own event as well as their listening and retention of everyone else’s presentations.

Students need to use both lower and higher order thinking for this assignment. I think it is more of a stepping stone to higher order thinking though because it doesn’t really ask too much of them. They are remembering, understanding and applying when they do their research, take notes, and give their presentation but they are also analyzing and evaluating when they decide what the biggest impacts on our world and culture were caused by their events. We also ask them to justify why they chose their repercussions in the question portion of the presentation.

The students are able to choose how they set up their poster as well as if they draw or print out a picture for it. They are also able to decide if one or multiple of them do the presentation (as long as they are not volunteering someone who doesn’t want to do it).


I think that the lesson study is a very good way to brainstorm and flesh out ideas for lessons and to make sure an idea for a lesson has all of the crucial parts that are actually necessary in a lesson that don’t get thought of while thinking of ideas. The peer review process is something I am going to use to great length once I am designing all of my own lessons. The more eyes the better.

6 Replies to “Lesson Study: Timeline Project”

  1. Looks like a very workable lesson. A few thoughts for your consideration (though I’m guessing your CT has a big role in planning):
    1. If this is designed as a follow up to “Global Perspectives” is that an opportunity to do some sort of “crosswalking” between what was going on globally at the time of their assigned event? 
    2. I don’t know if the events are all set. If there is still some flexibility, you might consider one or more that came from a more diverse source – for example something from women’s history. Seems like the Louisiana Purchase and Louis & Clark could be combined to free up a slot.
    3. I like “analyzing and evaluating when they decide what the biggest impacts on our world and culture were caused by their events” A chance to build a case for why “X” is the most enduring result of the event. They might even present a list of 3 results to the class and let the class vote on which they thought was most important before the team shares their interpretation.

    1. 1. I am completely unsure what Global Perspectives covered, I have just heard that it was the name of the class. Maybe it was just US history too? Unsure.
      2. I would love to add different events to the timeline that include more diverse representation although through a lot of these events discussion begun and was continued by my CT and I if it was a fair representation of what happened in the title and who was hurt by an event ect. (Columbus, the Civil War, Lewis and Clark ect.)
      3. This sounds like a great idea but it does seem pretty time consuming and this was meant to be just a couple days of intro. When they were presenting we did ask each group what they thought was the most important result and why though.

  2. I like how you and your CT included a modeling of the final products for this lesson. I think I forget how important modeling is when I am planning lessons, and in the middle of teaching it hits me that I could have modeled better what I am asking of students. I also like the idea of providing them a note taking organizer for the presentations.
    Is this activity something you would consider repeating throughout the year with new content/events? I’m just picturing a kind of informal timeline of posters around your classroom and how cool that could be!

    1. One of the reasons I chose this lesson for this assignment was because I wanted to remember the details of it so I could use it again. I think it is an easy set up for a jigsaw sort of teaching and as the students learn about quality sources this would be a good way to use those skills and assess them.
      Thanks Molly!

  3. Modeling assignments and projects is an important skill to have and I am glad you getting that practice while student teaching. This assignment will definitely give students the chance to gain research skills and an important oppurtunity to work together as a group. My question that came up is how will you be assessing your students?

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