“I do” … Or do I?

Target Audience: The target audience for this lesson would ideally be a high school history class that covers European development through the Renaissance. Because of its diverse nature, if could easily slip into the context of an art, religion, and gender studies course, but by streamlining it into a purely historic lesson, we can save time and delve deeper into the topic of Renaissance marriage! This lesson would serve as a great introduction to Renaissance humanism, culture, and surprisingly, a little historic law as well.

Content: This succinct lesson will cover gender roles of the European Renaissance, particularly in Italy and Florence. I will discuss some key details about love, courtship, relationships, and marriage in the 14th-16th century. We will cover gender roles of renaissance singles, marriage expectations for those that had been wed, and a specific marriage-related court case which will give us a look into the micro-history of this gilded era.

Process: The lesson instruction will proceed as follows: The students will begin by going to the chat and writing a fact, or may something they have heard, about stereotypical renaissance relationships. Then I will read off and comment some of the things that are shared. This will serve as a great segue into a 10-15 min lecture period. Then the students will be split into two breakout groups which will represent a specific historic character discussed within the presentation. Each team will be given a link to a Google Form that will instruct them on their respective objectives. In this semi-skit, their job will be do defend their client to the best of their abilities, using the evidences and information covered in the lesson. Then we will regroup, hold the skit, and decide the verdict!

Resources: The students will not be responsible for completing any out of class readings. Upon arrival, we will begin a powerpoint, and in breakout groups, they will be given a link to a Google Form which will describe to them their group activity.

Delivery Consideration: With the use of Zoom’s break-out-room feature, and Google Forms, this lesson could easily be delivered via visual platform.

Investigating Imperialism “Mystery” Activity

“In working to formulate a solution, students naturally build their skills in collecting evidence, organizing and interpreting information, and developing logical hypotheses and explanations. In addition, because the Mystery strategy capitalizes on the human affinity for the intriguing and perplexing, it arouses student curiosity and increases motivation in any classroom” (Silver, Strong, & Perini, 2007, p. 107).

Silver, H. F., Strong, R. W., & Perini, M. J. (2007). The Strategic Teacher: Selecting the Right Research-Based Strategy for Every Lesson. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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. Later in the units, students will connect the concept of imperialism and its characteristics to a country of their own choosing, illustrating the impacts of colonialism in the modern day.

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. Ask the key mystery question, “What are the defining factors of imperialism?” to the class.
    • Teacher asks the key question and instructs the students to silently brainstorm what they might know about imperialism.
    • Students are brainstorming about the key factors of imperialism, recalling any prior knowledge.
  2. Receiving the clues
    • Teacher gives the students 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). The teacher then gives students the clues and gives students a minute to read them over.
    • Students briefly read over the clues individually.
  3. Small group “investigation” on Jamboard
    • Teacher creates breakout rooms (or “investigative teams”) with about 5-6 students in each and moves from group to group, clarifying questions and monitoring student progress on the Jamboard page.
    • Students are sorting 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. It is not expected that each group will create exactly the same categories, but they should be able to explain their rationale. Students will choose one group member to be the spokesperson who will share the group’s findings with the class.
  4. Solving the mystery through whole-class consensus
    • Teacher calls on each group’s spokesperson to share what their group identified as the key features of imperialism. Teacher will record a running list of the features the students identify. After the class has created a definition of imperialism, the teacher will show them the actual categories created and the textbook definition of imperialism, which is “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.”
    • Students will engage in a whole-class discussion. Spokesmen will share their groups’ ideas and try to find consensus on what the characteristics of imperialism are, recording each other’s answers. After listening to each group’s list of characteristics, the class will decide what they think the defining characteristics of imperialism are. Students will record the characteristics on their note sheets. This is their exit ticket before leaving class. Students will leave class with a comprehension definition of imperialism informed by each other’s detective work.

Resources for Lessons: Below is the list of categories and clues that are used in this assignment. The left column of imperialism’s features are solely for the teacher, the students will not see them:

The images and facts in the “clues” column are randomly arranged in a Google Jamboard, in which students can drag and drop the various clues around their screen. With a Google account, the teacher can monitor the students’ work in real time: Jamboard Link

Instructional Slide Show: A Google Slides presentation containing maps of imperialized nations as well as instructions for the mystery activity. Google Slides Link

Consensus Discussion Guide: This sheet is to be screenshared by the teacher during the whole-class consensus discussion. It contains a space for the teacher to record the features created by the students, the dictionary definition of imperialism, and the clues sorted into their original chart. Google Doc Link

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.

The Middle Passage: Confronting Our Dark History

Title image source: link

Target Audience and Setting:
10th grade World History Class in a distance learning setting

As part of an ongoing unit on the explorers and European colonization of the Americas, we will be discussing one of the major consequences of this era, the start of the Atlantic Slave trade. It is estimated that over 12.5 million enslaved people were taken from Africa over a four-hundred-year span, drastically changing world history and inflicting untold horrors on people. Students may have studied U.S. slavery in the past, but many may not have the full scope of the Atlantic slave trade, of which only 400,000 arrived in the modern-day United States. Students will have previously studied the colonization and enslavement of various indigenous peoples’ in the Americas and will be able to understand this period as a larger piece in the story of European colonization.

To introduce this lesson, I will have students engage in a short interactive presentation that will help gauge what they already know about the Atlantic slave trade using Nearpod. Students will have already seen a short video that provides some basic background information about this topic that should allow them to share some key details. Students will then go into breakout groups to analyze one of three primary source documents with their groups and take notes on what they learn about the conditions of enslaved people on the Middle Passage from these documents. Students will then complete a Google Form exit ticket to demonstrate their understanding of the lesson.

Resources for learning:
The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you – Anthony Hazard
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database: Timelapse
The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes
Atlantic Slave Trade Documents

Delivery Considerations:
Using Nearpod will allow me to do direct instruction ad solicit engagement to see what my students already know. It will take time for students to log into the Nearpod class sessions, which is why I will instruct them to watch the YouTube video before class to allow for this transition. This will also allow enough time to get the breakout room situation sorted out for students, giving them enough time to read and analyze their short documents. Google Forms will serve as an exit ticket strategy to know how effective the lesson was in a remote setting.

Google Form Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Slave_ship_diagram.png

Analyzing Marvin Gaye’s Artistry

Target Audience and Setting: 11th grade US History in a distance learning setting

Content: While much of the American public presumed that the Vietnam War would be brief, the conflict persisted for over 10 years, making it the longest war that the United States had ever waged. Moreover, American troops were faced with the physical and emotional scars of a brutal war that killed nearly 50,000 American troops. Domestically, the conflict produced a massive anti-war movement that was embraced by a wide range of groups. In urban centers and college campuses around the country, Americans protested the savagery of the war and demanded that the conflict come to an end. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ captures the domestic toil that Americans endured during the Vietnam era. His 1971 album tells the story of what it was like to be an inner-city black man in this era.

Process: Student’s will use a PDF that complies lyrics and YouTube videos from Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On as a sources to analyze the domestic toil that the war produced. We will do a think-pair-share arrangement. I will ask groups of 3 to find lyrics and analyze them and place them in the context of the history. They will report back with the significance of the lines and answer the following questions: How does Gaye’s album reflect the domestic unrest that existed during the war? Substantiate your arguments and use additional sources to contextualize your arguments. What themes or lines from Gaye’s lyrics are still applicable today?

Resources: I am going to link a PDF that will compile lyrics from some of the more relevant songs in terms of conceptualizing. I have linked 3 videos below of songs and visuals that go with the record.

Listen to the second song on the album ‘What’s Happening Brother’
‘Inner City Blues’ is one of the songs on the record you should hear, read the lyrics and see the visuals used in the music video.
Mercy Mercy Me

Delivery Considerations:  I will be doing a bit of direct instruction before putting my class in Zoom breakout rooms for students to work in small groups on the analyzing and contextualization of the lyrics. I will give them access to a Google Jamboard that I will simply share in the chat at the beginning of class. They will put their group’s brainstorms in the Jamboard and share what they found before class and together determine what parts of the album stood out and best answer our main question. Then I will close the rooms and we could discuss as a class our respective findings.

Citation for image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/SOS_%28Stop_Our_Ships%29_Anti-Vietnam_War_Button.jpg