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.  

Sourcing: The Power of Myth

Essential Question:
Can we use Myths, Legends and/or stories as sources when studying history?

The audience would be a 9th grade MWH class.

I would run this lesson early in the year as as introduction to sourcing non-traditional source material. Students would consider Myth and Legend as a possible historical source. Students will examine oral history, and the challenges that come with transcription, exaggeration and allegory.

Materials: TedED video, The science behind the myth: Homer’s “Odyssey”. Youtube video Densho Oral History, Kara Kondo. Map with markers at Mt. Etna, ‘Pluto’s Gate”, Crimea.


Class will start with a the watching of a brief video.

The first question students will be asked is, is this history? What separates a story from history? What are some questions we have to keep in mind with oral history?

The teacher will than tell a brief family story. Following this students will be asked to write a brief story from their own lives, or family. Students will than share this story with a partner, if they feel comfortable. Several students will have the opportunity to share. Questions following this will be, can we learn anything about the time from these stories? Are stories ever exaggerated? Do stories we tell always mirror reality?

The TedED video will be briefly introduced, with some background on Homer. The class will watch the video.

The science behind the Odyssey

Questions following the video: Why do you think this story would have any importance to the Greeks? What are they trying to remember? Based off what you have seen, do you think Myth’s have any value to the historian?

Following this the class will break into groups, for each of the areas with a pin on the map there shall be several passages from Myth, taken from, Travelling Heroes : In the Epic Age of Homer, students will contrast these myths with our modern knowledge of the areas to make connections or an argument against these myths having basis in geographical reality.

America’s Response to Vietnam through Music

In this lesson, students will examine songs created directly in response to the Vietnam War. With release dates ranging from 1965 to 2014, student will identify how sentiments toward the war have changed over time. Additionally, the music provided offers a glimpse of both supporters and protesters of the war.

This lesson would follow an introduction to the protest movement seen during the Vietnam War. Due to one of the songs in the selection, it would also serve students well if they studied the My Lai Massacre prior to this lesson.

To best view the slideshow and Google Form, open them in a separate tab by clicking these links:

Slide Show: Click Here   //   Google Form: Click Here



Inspiration for this lesson comes from PBS Learning Media and the Ken Burns & Lynn Novick Collection

All songs found on and are intended solely for education purposes.

Introduction of the Oregon Trail through Edpuzzle

Attached is a video for the introduction of the Oregon Trail. Attached to the video are five questions to guide the students on the important information from the video and what I want them to get out of it. This is only a 2 minute video so this would be an introduction to a class followed by a larger activity or mini lesson.

As a whole, i found edpuzzle to be a very easy tool and somethingI would use again. It gives a twist on boring videos in the classroom and it gives the teacher an opportunity to ensure that their students are watching the video and not spacing out.