A Letter from Christopher Columbus to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, 1493

The SHEG model of interpreting sources is a method I found to be very valuable. It helps us as educators get to the heart of how we want our students to think about history, providing levels of complexity to a subject that is often over simplified for students. I used a hard copy version of this form to give to my class this week, as we are learning about Latin America and the conquistadors, and it worked splendidly. We were able to have a really interesting conversation about the reliability of different sources. I had success in differentiating this historical thinking lesson for my students who struggle with reading. I did this by giving them a visual that communicated some of the same ideas as this document, and then they answered the same type of higher order thinking questions about sourcing.

As far as the process of creating the lesson, I found myself really enjoying the utility of Google Forms. I can see using this a lot in my own classroom, should I end up in a school where there is more universal access to technology. As I mentioned above, the SHEG model guided me toward asking the kinds of questions that would lead my students toward the type of knowledge I wanted them to gain. I appreciated the opportunity to run through the lesson with colleagues and get their feedback on the improvements that could be made to the lesson, as well as its successes. The aspect of that collaboration that I found most formative was having my colleagues actually complete my Google form, so I could see what potential responses would be and if they matched my expectations for appropriate student responses. Those responses helped me calibrate my questions and gave me a more informed expectation of student performance.

4 Replies to “A Letter from Christopher Columbus to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, 1493”

  1. I loved reading about how you took this Google Form from our class to the one you are student teaching in! I would be interested to hear their reactions – did they like the format? Were you pleased with the kind of conversations your lesson sparked within your class?
    I agree that the SHEG method helps guide your questions toward ideas that are so critical to historical thinking.
    Fun lesson, thanks for sharing!

  2. So glad the timing was such that you could use this with your students. Good chance to compare our “theoretical” review to actual student use.

  3. I thought this was a great lesson, Clarice. The chunk of text was very manageable, and you geared questions in such a way as to spark important higher order thinking about sources.

    That’s fantastic that you were able to use it in class and even differentiate among different types of learners! I’m happy to hear that it went well and worked. I think this was a good example for you to choose because there are a number of access points, even for students less familiar with Christopher Columbus’ relationship with the king and queen and the surrounding events. Way to go!

  4. I thought that this was a very complete lesson and it is awesome you were able to use it in your classroom. I also agree that the utility of google forms is great!

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