Imperialist sentiments leading to the War of 1898

Uncle Sam's Picnic 1898

Uncle Sam’s Picnic 1898

Content- We will be studying how Americans at the turn of the century saw their place in the world i.e. manifest destiny and their responsibility to what they believed were lower, less civilized races and societies. The students will continue to work on their OPCVL skills and translating this information into a succinct but comprehensive paragraph.

Process- For homework the students read “Our Country” by Josiah Strong (1891) and wrote a short paragraph (100-300 words) about their reaction to Strong’s arguments that Americans are destined to colonize the world. In class the students will discuss in small groups for 5-7 minutes what they wrote in their paragraphs. I will move around the room and listen to their discussions, asking questions when deemed appropriate or helpful to their learning. Then we will come together as a class and discuss further what this belief could mean for America in the world, why would this belief lead to the Spanish-American war? Another 10 minutes at most.

Next we will move to political cartoons. I will have a small informational slide show about common themes in political cartoons from this time period. Next I will pass out the small packets with political cartoons from the time we are studying-I will also be putting them up on the screen as they copied dark. The students will get into groups and discuss a set of questions. We will probably go through them one by one as we have them up on the screen. Students will be instructed to take notes on each cartoon and what their group discussed. As they do this I will be circulating the room, listening in on their conversations and questioning them when deemed necessary. Once we have seen them all, we will come together as a class and discuss what the cartoons tell us about American Imperialism. 30-40 mins

For homework the students will read one of two textbook readings about the Spanish-American war. We will give them time in class to read through this, there is a study sheet attached to this that they should fill out to the best of their ability. They will be given time in class to work on this as well as their cartoon. I will be available if they have questions. During this time I will be looking over their paragraph about Josiah Strong. The rest of class.

Product- Based on their historical knowledge (and not their drawing skills), I will ask students to draw a 1-3 panel (at least) political cartoon about American Imperialism in the 1890’s. I will be giving them a hand out with the framework for this task as well as a few panels to get them started.

Evaluation- I will collect their paragraphs from last night and read them to see if they are on track as far as their understanding goes. To evaluate this I will be using the MYP Individuals and Societies Assessment Criteria. The next class I will collect their cartoons and look over those to see if they understand. I will also ask for some brave volunteers to show their cartoons on the overhead and discuss why they picked what they did after the class analyzes its meaning.

What kinds of thinking will students need to do to participate in the lesson? Students will use higher order thinking to get through this lesson, analyzing and evaluating, and to do the homework of creating a political cartoon.

To what extent do students have options or choices regarding these lesson components? During the lesson the students pick their own groups to discuss the reading and the cartoons, as well as stating their educated opinion in their small groups and the group at large as to what the reading and the cartoons mean to American History. Primarily their options come in with the homework. They get to choose which reading to do and they get to choose how they want to depict their cartoon.


Reflection: After watching my Cooperating Teaching run his classroom for the last few weeks, I began to get a feel for how to run a lesson with the materials he wants the kids to know. The issue was putting my own spin on things which was easy once I looked at the materials and examined the connects to my interests.

In 10th grade US history at the school I’ve been placed at we use a lot of primary sources to begin to understand what was happening in history. The textbook gives us a framework which we use because these kids are not historians and they don’t have time to go study the myriad documents on each subject we need them to learn. This lesson we are using political cartoons to get across the types of beliefs Americans held about their neighbors and other countries.

Here was my time to shine! The graphic medium is a fun, accessible way for kids to learn about history. They don’t have to understand the syntax of the time which can be difficult and prevents many people from understanding primary sources; all they have to do is look and interpret. At least until I give them homework. This is exciting for me because I love comics and graphic novels and cartoons, bringing them to the classroom is the ultimate goal. They will be able to pick up on my energy and excitement about the topic and hopefully it is catching so they can get excited too. And even better, the students get to participate in this as well. It looks like it will all be fun and games but it’s also a way for me to assess where they are at.

The feedback from my peers was all positive with some ideas for different directions I could take the discussion around the different political cartoons. Overall I feel excited to deliver this lesson come Monday. Hopefully all goes according to plan.

Image credit: Uncle Sam’s Picnic/Dalrymple
N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzman, 1898 September 28
Library of Congress Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-28634

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