Belgians in the Congo: Defining Imperialism

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Target Audience and Setting: This lesson is designed for a 9th grade Modern World History Class. It is the introductory lesson to a unit on “Colonialism in the Congo,” which uses the example of Belgian imperialism in the Congo as a case study on the effects of colonization, especially leading up to WWI.

Content: In this lesson, students will be introduced to the concept of imperialism, including its key characteristics and typical structure. Students will also be briefly introduced to the Belgians in the Congo as a case study of imperialism. This is important because imperialism was such a far-reaching system that has affected the present situation of many countries throughout the world, including our own. The Congo was a particularly violent example of imperialism that illustrates the harms and lasting damages inflicted by imperialism.

Process: I will be using an activity from Silver, Strong, & Perini’s 2007 book Strategic Teacher: Selecting the Right Research-Based Strategy for Every Lesson. The strategy I am using is called “Mystery,” and it requires the students to act as detectives and sort through clues to solve a key question.

  1. I will employ this strategy by first posing the question, “What are the defining factors of imperialism?” to the class.
  2. I will then give them a document with about 20 clues (pieces of information such as the names of colonizing and colonized nations as well as examples of imperialism such as the hands of Congo natives being cut off by their Belgian rulers or the spread of Catholicism to Latin America).
  3. Then, the students will be put into small groups. They will must then sort the clues into different categories based on similarities or what they believe the category is. They will eventually decide on what they think the defining factors of imperialism are based on the clues, and each group will rearrange the clues on Jamboard accordingly.
  4. As a whole class, the students will discuss their ideas and try to find consensus on what the characteristics of imperialism are, recording each other’s answers.

Resources for Lesson: The students will be given the following clues typed in a document and placed into a random order (not the order listed below):

Additionally, all students already have Google accounts through the school, so they will have access to a Google Jamboard that I will create. Each group will have their own page on the Jamboard.

Delivery Considerations: If this was an in-person class, I would literally cut out each clue, put them in envelopes for the students, and have them physically rearrange them according to their categories. However, because of the online format, I will provide the students with a Google Doc listing all of the clues from the section above (without the categories, of course!). The students will then work together on Google Jamboard to reorder the clues, dragging them into piles on the screen.

Hawai’i, More Than Just a Vacation

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Target Audience

The target for this lesson is for students from 9th to 11th grades. The purpose of this target is since high school students tend to take courses such as 20th Century History, U.S. History, and A.P U.S. History. However, younger students can learn about the annexation of Hawai’i as well.


The annexations of Hawai’i will go along the topic of U.S. Expansionism during the 19th century to 20th Century. Students need to be learning about this topic because Hawai’i is often overlooked as a cultural nation and considered more of a vacation spot. Even when tourists go to a lū’au, they would not take the time to learn about the Hawai’ian culture and why it is they can experience this. Hawai’i is rich with culture and the United States had a big presence in overtaking Hawai’i’s sovereignty for their gains. Therefore, giving students the context of a recent moment in history will give students more context on U.S. imperialism.


At the start of the lesson, students will take a pre-assessment for me to see what they know about Hawai’i and get the students warmed up to discussing the topic. The purpose of this is to ease students into the subject rather than jumping straight in without some kind of warm-up for the students. The students will also be using a guided outline to take their notes on. I will be modeling the notes by giving them the vocabulary and essential questions to fill in as we move along the next two days. On the first day, the students will be watching a video called “How the U.S. Stole Hawai’i”. This will serve as a primer for the students since I will be going further in-depth the next day. The video will provide a basic overview of how the United States annexed Hawai’i. After the video, the students will work on an interactive activity where they will fill in information about Queen Lili’uokalani, Sanford Dole, President Cleveland, President McKinley, and the Public Safety Committee. The students will make identifications of the individuals and then make connections between the individuals listed. On the second day, I will lecture to the students about the annexation. The students will write down follow the lecture and answer the essential questions that were written down from the day before in their guided outline. Then, after the lecture, I will have the students complete an assignment regarding Queen Lili’uokalani’s letter to President McKinley and then a political cartoon about U.S. Imperialism. At the end of the two days, the students will complete a post-assessment.

Resources for Lessons

The resources that will be available to the students on Google Classrooms. The video that will be played, the lecture PowerPoint (and the Loom recording of the lecture), and the assessment, and assignments. In addition to these online resources, the students will be able to utilize their guided outline. All of these resources will guide them on their upcoming test that will cover U.S. Imperialism.

  1. How the U.S. Stole Hawai’i
  2. Entrance Ticket Day 2 (review)
  3. Hawai’i Assignment

Delivery Considerations

For in-person classes, the lecture would be presented in class. The assignments could be printed and adapted as in classwork. Utilizing Google Classroom would be important as the world moves to more digital formats for everyday uses. As such, incorporating the digital world into in-person classes would make for an easy transition for online classes. For online classes, the adaptation would be giving students time to ask questions. I think that using a flipped classroom format would be most useful for the lesson. The students would be able to view both videos before live classes and then ask questions or seek more information during synchronous classes.

Miserable Wife, Renaissance Life

Target Audience and Setting: This lesson on love and marriage during the European Renaissance period would fit perfectly into multiple courses. Because of its diverse nature, it could be easily slipped into a history course that focuses on discusses the renaissance, a course about marriage and gender roles as they change through time, and a course on the religious reformation, as the gender roles within a 16th century family were impacted by the writings and experiences of Martin Luther.

Content: This lesson will include content on renaissance gender roles, the typical process of a legal marriage, a micro-historic case study which gives the students a first hand look at an actual renaissance relationship, Martin Luther’s new take on what it means to be married, and how his own marriage transformed gender roles within both religious and non-religious families in the post-renaissance era.

Process: The students will be given one or two readings which will give them a preview of what 14-16th century marriage would have looked like. Then they would be asked to open class with a partner/group discussion on how the renaissance relationship differs from one today. Then there would be a lecture period, interrupted by another group session where students could use a Google Slide in order to sort relationship characteristics into a Venn diagram. Finally, there would be a second lecture period after which a group/whole class discussion would take place.

Resources for Lesson: Some sources would need to be scanned and shared before class

  • Francesco Barbaro, “On Marriage (1415)” in Renaissance Humanism, An Anthology of Sources, ed. Margaret L. King (United States of America: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014)
  • Marie Le Jars de Gournay, “The Equality of Men and Women (1622) in Renaissance Humanism, An Anthology of Sources, ed. Margaret L. King (United States of America: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014)
  • Phyllis Schlafly, “What’s Wrong with “Equal Rights” for Women? (1972)” Link.

Delivery Consideration: With the use of break out rooms and Google Slides, this lesson could easily be delivered via visual platform.

I Set Out Alone: Using travelogues as primary sources

Audience and Setting:
The class I would be using this for would be either an 11th or 12th grade world history class. As with most things these days, this would be done over Zoom. I’d like to give this lesson synchronously, with a bit of prep involved upfront from asynchronous reading material. This would be used as a lesson during a unit that I would really like to teach at the beginning of the year, about historical thinking and research. I want to begin my history classes with some kind of introduction into the field of history itself, and teach my students how to begin to think historically and critically consider information they encounter.

For this lesson we will be looking at travelogues as sources, and use this as a way to talk about what sources can do for us. What kinds of information are travelogues useful for, and when should we look elsewhere? This would be part of a larger conversation on primary versus secondary sources, and in an extended class I would want to do some think/pair/share activities with different travelogue and journal sources.

I imagine this lesson as looking into travelogues and journals specifically, after a brief introduction on the subject in an earlier lesson. For this lesson we will take a look at a few quotes and specific sources, and ask students in a think/pair/share what parts of the sources they found to be very reliable, somewhat reliable, or not at all reliable. From there as a class we will try to come up with a list of contexts in which using travelogues would be the best source or the worst source. The point of this would be to help students uncover ways to use sources they might not consider at first.

For the asynchronous portion of the lesson I will provide students with excerpts from a few different travelogues and journals. In a longer class we may actually read one full travelogue. During the lesson I would provide a few excerpts and use Jamboard or Google Slides for breakout sessions in a think/pair/share.

The lecture portion would be short; simply going over the already-provided texts used for the asynchronous lesson. We would discuss some of the details of the texts, and offer discussion as to who to the authors were, and where they were when they wrote their texts. For the synchronous portion, I will split the texts into groups, then have each student create a list of what descriptions provided in the texts seem reliable or unreliable. I will then break the students into pairs, and then into text groups to share their findings. Once we come back together as a class, we would discuss our findings, and evaluate travelogues as primary sources in history based on what the students find.

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