7 Lesson Plans
Reading Like a Historian: Chicago Race Riots of 1919
In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Chicago race riots of 1919? The teacher begins with a mini-lecture on the Great Migration and then streams the video trailer for a documentary film called Up South. Students then read 2 secondary source accounts of the riots: 1 from a generic textbook and another from John H. Franklin's From Slavery to Freedom. Students analyze with a graphic organizer and discuss: which account is more believable and why? They then do the same for 3 primary sources, drawn from contemporary newspapers and magazines. A final class discussion attempts to identify the real cause of the riots and places them in a larger context of racial violence at the time.
Reading Like a Historian: Marcus Garvey
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was Marcus Garvey a controversial figure? Students first read their textbook's passage on Garvey and discuss; the teacher then distributes a timeline to extend students' background knowledge. The teacher may also (optional) stream some video clips on Garvey "In His Own Words," about 5 minutes total. Students then analyze 4 documents: 1) an excerpt from the Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2) a letter from NAACP members and others to the Attorney General complaining of Garvey, 3) a memo by J. Edgar Hoover, and 4) Garvey's own Autobiography. For all, students answer extensive guiding questions and engage in Socratic discussion with the teacher: why was Garvey so popular and controversial? Students then answer the question in writing using all the documents as evidence.
Reading Like a Historian: Mexican Labor in the 1920s
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What was life like for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the 1920s? Students look at 3 documents: 1) an oral interview of a Mexican immigrant, 2) a traditional Mexican corrido ballad, and 3) a 2003 article from Journal of Social History that contains data on lynching. For each, students complete questions on a graphic organizer in groups. Class discussion: do you trust these documents? What other information would you like to see?
Reading Like a Historian: Palmer Raids
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Palmer Raids? The lesson begins by asking students what communism/socialism means to them. Students share answers in pairs. The teacher then provides background information on the Red Scare and follows up by streaming a film clip from Discovery Education. Students then analyze 2 documents-"The Case Against the Reds" by A. Mitchell Palmer and a deportation statement by Emma Goldman-and answer guiding questions for each. A final class discussion corroborates the documents: why did the nation allow the Palmer Raids to take place?
Reading Like a Historian: Scopes Trial
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did people care about the Butler Act? Students first read an excerpt from a 1914 textbook, A Civic Biology, and answer brief questions. The teacher then gives a mini-lecture on the rise of religious fundamentalism in the 1920s and streams a video clip on the Scopes Trial. Students fill out a graphic organizer during/after they watch and then they analyze 4 documents: 1) a letter to the editor of the Nashville Tennessean, 2) a speech from one of John Scopes' defense attorneys, 3) a magazine article written by a fundamentalist preacher, and 4) a New York Times article commenting on the media circus. For each, they answer guiding questions. A final class discussion contextualizes the documents: how did the context of the 1920s make this more than a simple debate over evolution?
Reading Like a Historian: Sedition in WWI
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were critics of the First World War anti-American? Students begin by free-writing: what is patriotism? Is it unpatriotic to criticize one's government? Students receive 2 documents: a speech by Eugene Debs and a pamphlet by Charles Schenck. For both, they answer detailed questions on a graphic organizer. After discussing, students then look at the text of the 1917 Sedition Act and answer guiding questions. Finally, the class looks at Oliver Wendell Holmes' Supreme Court decision ruling against Schenck and discuss: Did he break the law? Do you agree with the decision? For homework, students answer the central question in writing with evidence from the documents.
Reading Like a Historian: U.S. Entry into WWI
In this lesson, designed to follow a more general lesson on the causes and warring parties of WWI, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the U.S. enter World War I? The teacher begins with a mini-lesson on Woodrow Wilson. Students then read 2 Wilson documents: 1) a 1914 speech urging American neutrality and 2) Wilson's 1917 speech on the U.S. entry into the war. Students then read their class textbook's explanation for the end of U.S. neutrality, followed by an excerpt from Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. For all documents, students answer guiding questions which stress contextualization and close reading. A final class discussion evaluates Zinn's views and compares them to the other sources.