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Taylor Smith

C&T 862
Dr. Joseph OBrien

Providing Context: Weaving Historical Thinking Throughout a Course

From the start of the school year, a group of 8th grade students embarked on their course

of study within U.S. history by examining the ways historians investigate, make sense of, and

communicate about the past. With the focus on historical thinking skills, the use of primary

source documents, and writing, students engaged with a variety of instructional materials that

guided their development in the ability to source, contextualize, and corroborate documents, to

draw conclusion about the people, places, and events they studied. This means that instruction

was inquiry-based, and always began with an essential question that demanded the students to

listen deeply to the voices of the past for the purpose of learning from history. The lessons

designed below are examples of how students participated in this inquiry-based method of

learning, practiced their historical thinking skills, and engaged with the use of primary source

documents to collect supporting evidence and construct historical interpretations. The lessons

exhibited in the subsequent pages were implemented during the second semester.

Lesson one follows instruction where students participated in activities that assisted in

developing their schema through acquiring background information about significant events that

led up to the Civil War, as well as vocabulary instruction. Previous units of studyone being

that of the Abolitionist Movement where students determined how Abolitionists worked in a

variety of ways to persuade other Americans to participate in the fight against slaveryguided

students through inquiry-based instruction and historical thinking. Therefore, including the

preceding lessons, A Song for Freedom, helps students prepare for succeeding lessons where

they will explore a series of documents and employ historical thinking skills in order to answer
the question, what caused the Civil War? Providing students with two versions of a popular song

served the purpose of demonstrating the perspectives of the meaning of the Civil War from both

the North and the South, meanwhile incorporating a primary source tool that requires students to

make observations, reflections (inferences), and questions. When engaging with the Document

Based Question (DBQ) that follows, students examined several different sources that conveyed

multiple perspectives of the climate in Antebellum America; thus, both versions of The Battle

Cry of Freedom, coupled with the primary source analysis tool developed by the Library of

Congress, shines light onto why each side fought the war, while equipping students with an

effective means of organizing information, making inferences, and driving inquiry through

Following their study of the causes of the Civil War and the experiences of various

Americanssoldiers and civilians alike and the plans for Reconstruction, lesson two includes

a Structured Academic Controversy that was developed by the Stanford History Education Group

(SHEG). Within this lesson, students continue practicing their historical thinking skills for the

purpose of answering the essential question, were African Americans free during

Reconstruction? The collaborative nature of this lesson, as well as the advanced organizers and

modified documents provided by SHEG allowed students to successfully develop their

interpretations of the past in a way that focuses how they work through the documents, collect

evidence, and construct a consensus after defending a particular viewpoint. To culminate the

lesson, unit of study, and their ability to think historically, students participated in a performance

task where they were required to individually provide a conclusion for the essential question,

while demonstrating their ability to support their claims with evidence, and source and

contextualize primary source documents. Lesson Plan 1

Preparing for Inquiry: What Caused the Civil War?

The purpose of this lesson is to prepare students for subsequent lessons where they will draw conclusions
about the causes of the Civil War. Ultimately, students will dive into the inquiry by examining a song that
demonstrates a Union and Confederate perspective of the war, while noting observations, inferences, and
questions about the song. While building their schema, this lesson will prepare students for subsequent
lessons, where they will be required to work through the same note taking process with the primary
source documents that correspond with their DBQ- What Caused the Civil War?

Unit title- A National Divided Lesson title- A Song for Freedom

Time- 1, 45 minute class period Essential Question: What caused the Civil War?

Goals and Objectives: The student will be able to

Explain how particular events that led up to the Civil War divided the nation, with textual
Explain the perspective being conveyed about a particular event or idea in 2 or more primary
source documents by comparing and contrasting these perspectives.
While comparing and contrasting perspectives about a particular event or idea being conveyed in
2 or more primary source documents, the student will be able to determine which perspective is
the most believable, while citing textual evidence.
1. Anticipatory set (10 minutes ):
1. Writing- To begin, the teacher must elicit confidence by linking this particular material to
previously learned content. Therefore, the anticipatory set will ask students to complete the
closure procedures from the previous lesson where they must respond to the following question
by completing a quick write:
What conflicts were causing the United States to divide during the mid 1800s (1850-1860).
What were some of the effects of these events?
o Support your answer with a specific example from your timeline.

2. Pair Share (5 minutes)-

Once students have completed their writing, they must share their responses with their neighbor.
The neighbor will assess their partners writing by looking for whether or not their partner
answered the question. Students will provide their partner with two stars (what they did well) and
one wish (what they need to make an improvement on)
The teacher must project the grading criteria for students: Explained causes, Explained
effects, Thesis has 3 supporting points, and provides specific evidence.
For accountability, students will hand their quick write to their leaders and turn them in to be

2. Causes of the Civil War DBQ Hook Exercise (25 minutes total):
For this activity, students will examine the parallel, but conflicting perspectives demonstrated in the song
The Battle Cry of Freedom. Shoulder partners red and blue will examine the Unions perspective, while
Green and Yellow will examine the Confederates perspective. Follow these steps for the activity:
1. Teacher directed instruction over the Battle Cry for Freedom (3 minutes)- Explain that both
sides used the same melody, but that the message was completely different.
1. Play the song. Ask students to describe the tone of the song.
2. Distribute the primary source analysis tool to students, and model how they are to
make observations, reflections, and questions.
3. Split students into groups of four, and each student will work their shoulder partner.
2. Observations (2 minutes): Give students 2 minutes to make their initial observations
Tell them to focus on the words tyrants, traitor, and freedom

3. Reflect (inference) (10 minutes) - Students will share their observations with the class,
randomly. The teacher will write these observations on the board. The teacher will then provide
both groups with their focus cues.
Group A- The North is fighting to free the slaves and keep the Union together.
Group B- The South is fighting to keep a way of life.
After each group is given their focus cue, the teacher will model how students are to proceed with
the reflection process.
With their shoulder partner, students will make these reflections (inferences) with
their shoulder partner. Time the students for 2 minutes.

4. Question (10 minutes)- After students have made their observations and inferences, explain to
them that there are still many unknowns. Explain to students that in order to find these unknowns,
they must ask questions. Students will then create a series of closed or open-ended questions with
their partner to seek out this information. The teacher must first model to students an appropriate
question. These questions should be based off of the inferences he/she modeled to the class. For
Observation: Both sides are singing about freedom
Reflection (inference): The Souths perspective of freedom probably deals with their
freedom to maintain their way of life and keep slavery.
Question: In what ways are Southerners feeling threatened by the compromises or laws
begin passed through the Federal government during this time?

3. Closure: Exit Ticket (5 minutes)-

For the students exit ticket, they must fill out the first side of their T-chart. The side that they must fill out
corresponds with their focus cues. This will help students organize the information that they need for the
subsequent lesson, where they will create a large T-Chart with their face partners. The intention of this
exit ticket is to provide notes that they will add to throughout their document analysis.

Pair share-cooperative learning structures, Modeling, Scaffolding (chunking analysis), Stress-free writing
allows students to take their observations, inferences, and question to a level where he or she is
comfortable, and iPads for students to research the meanings of terms in the song

PowerPoint, Library of Congress primary source analysis (editable PDF available if you have laptops);
Battle Cry of Freedom; Quick write questions; and notebook paper for the T-Chart.

Feedback: Two stars, one wish, share out after observations and inferences, and roam the room while
students are writing their questions; T-Chart
Formative: Quick Write- students will receive a score for this


Lyrics to Union and Confederate versions of The Battle Cry of Freedom:

Primary Source Analysis Tool:

Presentation Materials:
Causes of the Civil War Unit Rubric
Goals 4 3 2 1
Exceeds Target Meets Target Approaching Target Emerging Target

Choices have I can sequence the events I can sequence the I can sequence all of I can sequence some of the
Consequences that led up to the Civil events that led up to the the events that led up events that led up to the
War, provide 2-3 details, Civil War, provide 2-3 to the Civil War, while Civil War
Score 1: describe the causes and details, and describe the providing 2-3 details
Score 2: effects, and explain how Causes and effects.
Final: these events led to the
division of the Nation.

Goal 2: Relationships While examining a While examining a I can identify the I can identify some of the
among people, places, variety of sources, I can variety of sources, I can economic, political, economic, political,
and ideas are dynamic explain why the describe the economic, geographical, or social geographical, or social
geographic, economic, political, social, or differences between differences between the
Score 1: political, or social geographical the north and south. . north and south.
Score 2: differences made an differences between the
Final: impact. north and south..

Goal 3- While examining I can explain the I can Identify the I can identify some of the
Primary Source perspectives about a perspective being perspective being perspectives being shown
Sourcing: perspective particular event or idea shown about a conveyed about a about an event of idea in 2
CCRS R.1 being shown in 2 or more particular event or idea particular event or idea or more primary source
primary source in 2 or more primary in 2 or more primary documents.
Score 1: documents ,I can show source documents source documents
Score 2: how the contextual
Final: factors are contributing to

Goal 4:Thesis- CCRS I can write a thesis that is I can write a thesis that I can write a thesis that No explicit thesis
W.1 comprehensive; provides is comprehensive and partially responds to
Score 1: a sophisticated provides an original the prompt;
Score 2: interpretation interpretation; Responds to prompt,
Final: but not an original

I can write an essay that: I can write an essay I can write an essay In my essay:
Goal 5: Support/ Uses correct facts. that: that: Facts are false.
Textual Evidence Facts, definitions, and Uses correct facts Uses some correct Facts, definitions, and
CCRS R.1 and W.9 details make sense and Most facts, definitions, facts. details do not make sense or
help answer the and details make sense Some facts, help answer the
Score 1: question/prompt. and help answer the definitions, and details question/prompt.
Score 2: Uses 2 or more sources to question/prompt. make sense and help Does not use 1 or more
Final: get facts. Uses Uses 2 or more sources answer the sources for facts.
evidenced-based terms to for facts. Mostly uses question/prompt. Uses Does not use evidence-based
discuss facts, details, or evidence-based terms at least 1 source for terms to discuss facts,
definitions. to discuss facts, details, facts. Mostly uses details, or definitions.
or definitions. evidence-based terms
to discuss facts,
details, or definitions.

Goal 6 I can write an essay that: I can write an essay I can write an essay My essay:
Connects back to the that: that: Does not connect back to the
Writing Organization thesis Mostly connects back somewhat connects thesis
CCRS W.4 Is clear to the reader to the thesis. back to the thesis. Is confusing and lacks
Score 1: Has logical organization Is mostly clear to the Is somewhat clear to clarity
Score 2: Uses vocabulary from reader the reader; may be Does not follow logical
Final: American history to Mostly has logical confusing organization.
develop ideas (any organization Follows some logical Does not use vocabulary
vocabulary from this unit Uses some vocabulary organization; may be from American history
and previous units). from American history confusing.
to develop ideas (any Where the use of
vocabulary from this vocabulary from
unit and previous American history is
units). inconsistent.
Lesson Plan 2

Structured Academic Controversy: Investigating the Freedoms of African Americans during


Adapted from the structured academic controversy created by the Stanford History Education Group, the
following lesson plan has students explore the expansion of rights under the 13th, 14th, and 15th
Amendments, as well as other documents that demonstrate evidence of freedom and oppression. The
activities and the chosen documents guide students towards determining, were African Americans free
during Reconstruction? This lesson builds upon previously practiced historical thinking skills, as well as
the students understanding of the various plans for Reconstruction after the Civil War.

Unit title- Malice Toward None: Reconstructing the Nation Lesson title- Were African Americans
Time- 5, 45 minute class period Essential Question: Were African Americans free during

Goals and Objectives: The student will be able to...

Develop and support claims with textual evidence.
Use sourcing as a way to determine how a sources points of view/ document type influence the
style and/or tone.
Analyze how the context of the source influences the interpretation.
Uses prior knowledge to interpret the source within context, rather that present-day mindset.
Fully explains the plans developed during Reconstruction.
Explains why Radical Reconstruction was viewed as radical.
Fully explains how the rights of African Americans were expanded or restricted during
Day 1 & 2
1. Anticipatory Set:

Students will participate in a short simulation where they will end up in debt, as if they were a sharecrop
farmer. Refer to the Google Slide to guide students through the different rounds. After the simulation is
complete, students will complete the sharecrop-opoly reflection, where they will discuss what they think
sharecropping is, what it means to be free, if you can be free when constantly in debt, and review
elements of Reconstruction learned during previous lessons. To obtain materials, refer to the materials list
on this lesson plan.

2. Direct Instruction:
Drawing upon previous instruction, review the elements of Reconstruction plans from President Johnson
and the Radical Republicans. Have students participate in a Think, Pair, Share where each partner will
discuss the following:
What were Johnsons opinions on funding the Freedmens Bureau?
What were Johns opinions on giving African Americans the right to vote?
What were the main elements of the Radical Republicans plan for Reconstruction?
Why was Radical Reconstruction considered Radical?
Give the pairs 4 minutes to answer these questions, and when time is complete, randomly call of students
to assess their understandings. If needed, review the plans for Reconstruction that were learned during
previous class periods.

3. Primary Source Stations:

Rotating through each station to view the documents one at a time, students will work on the guided
reading questions to practice their historical thinking skills, as well as becoming familiar with the
documents. To complete this activity, you will need to set up 5 stations, one for each document. Provide
students with about 8 minutes at each station.

Day 3 and 4
4. Structured Academic Controversy:

1. Introduction (10 minutes): After students have reviewed each primary while completing the guided
questions, present the class with the question: Were African Americans free during Reconstruction. With
their shoulder partners, students will create a T-Chart where they will list evidence free and not free.
A sample T-chart is provided in the resources section in subsequent pages. After students have completed
the T-chart, hand out the timeline and review that one of the main tasks ahead of the Federal government
during Reconstruction was to decide whether or not to protect the rights of African Americans.

2. Debate: Divide students into groups of four. Explain that you will assign each pair a particular
argument to support by collecting evidence from the provided documents, with their shoulder partner. The
structure of the debate is as follows:
o Team A: African Americans were free during Reconstruction.
o Team B: African Americans were not free during Reconstruction.
Collect Evidence (30 minutes): Pass out the organizing the evidence advanced organizer.
Provide the students with 30 minutes to collect evidence, and 5 minutes to prepare their
Present Arguments (20 minutes): Provide each group with 10 minutes to present their arguments.
o Team A presents their argument to Team B, and Team B must repeat the points back to
Team A.
o Team B presents their argument to Team A, and Team A must repeat the points back to
Team B.
Consensus (20 minutes): After presenting their arguments, the groups must come to a consensus.
Give the groups 15 minutes to determine their answer to the essential question. Group members
must complete the coming to a consensus organizer while determining their response. When
each group member is satisfied, randomly call on a representative to share the groups consensus.
Then, as a class, discuss the following questions:
o Were African Americans free during Reconstruction? In what ways?
o What does it mean to be Free?

3. Exit Ticket: On a sticky note, have students individually respond to the essential question: Were
African Americans Free during Reconstruction? Provide 2 reasons to support your answer.

Day 5
5. Closure:
During this class period, students will work on the performance task, where they will create a ThingLink
to demonstrate whether or not they believe African Americans were free during Reconstruction. The
description of the assignment, rubric, and a student sample are located in the resources section in the
subsequent pages.

Guided questions, cooperative learning groups, and advanced organizers, modified documents.

Materials: Sharecrop-opoly materials (refer to resources), SHEG documents and student materials,
folders for documents, sticky notes, T-charts, rubrics for ThingLink, computers, Thinglink

Feedback: T-chart, Organizing the Evidence
Formative: Guided reading questions, Consensus
Summative: Reconstruction ThingLink


The following are the resources needed for the lesson plan above:

Documents and Student Materials: Stanford History Education Group: Structure Academic
Controversy materials:

This document includes:

Primary source documents
Guided questions
Organizing the evidence advanced organizer
Coming to a Consensus advanced organizer
Reconstruction Timeline

Sharecrop-opoly :

This document includes:

Simulation instructions
ThingLink Instructions

ThingLink Performance Task

For the last few weeks, you have explored some parts of the different ideas over Reconstruction,
including Radical Reconstruction and Andrew Johnsons thoughts about these plans. With this,
you have investigated the new freedoms and limits to the freedoms of African Americans during
this time period. Therefore, with the assignment that is outlined below, you will
INDEPENDENTLY answer the question:

Were African Americans free during Reconstruction?

To complete this assignment, you must complete the following tasks on the checklist. Also, each
bit of information will be represented with the corresponding symbol on your ThingLink, for
each category:
1.Summarize the different plans (Radical Reconstruction and Andrew Johnsons beliefs)
Symbol: Info Icon
Summarize the different plans--Radical Reconstruction and Andrew Johnsons
Explain why Radical Reconstruction was viewed as Radical
o Symbol: Home Icon
o This is your answer to the question.
o Symbol: Star Icon
o from documents AND outside sources
o For each outside source you must provide a summary of the information
o Symbol: Star Icon- include with evidence
o ALL 3 documents
o This includes: Who wrote the document and why they wrote it, the persons point of
view, the type of document it is (Who, What, Why)
o Symbol: Star Icon- include with evidence
o ALL 3 documents
o This includes: when was the document made/taking place and what else was
happening, and where this document took place and how that place influenced the
document (When, Where, How)

Student Sample:
Unit Rubrics
Historical Thinking Goals

Goals Emerging Approaching Meets Exceeds

1 2 3 4

Evidence Does not Specifically and Each argument is Uses evidence persuasively;
accurately use accurately uses one accurately supported Shows understanding of the meanings
any historical piece of historical by at least two pieces of evidence
evidence evidence for at least of historical evidence; In longer writing: extra claim supported
some arguments; In longer writing: no by specific evidence;
Refers to content of more than one piece
evidence without of evidence used
specificity or erroneously
Evidence missing or
used incorrectly for
some arguments

Sourcing Accepts the Mentions author Considers how the Analyzes how sources point of view
source on face and/or purpose, but author(s) and/or and/or document type affects the
value does not relate this document type or content, style, or tone of the document
Does not mention to credibility or purpose affect the
author or bias; content, style, or
purpose. Accepts source reliability of the
statements at face document.

Historical Context Lacking evidence Does not accurately Applies prior and new Applies prior and new knowledge to
of understanding determine the knowledge to determine the historical setting of the
the historical historical setting of determine the source and uses that setting to interpret
setting of the the source. historical setting of the source within that historical context
sources. Mentions historical the source. May as opposed to a present-day mindset.
Lacking context without attempt to interpret Explicitly analyzes influence of context
description of analyzing its impact some with a present on interpretation of sources
historical context. on sources or day mindset.
interpretation. Cites specific events
Applies or themes external to
understandings the sources and
rooted in the present makes connection
to events or between them and
perspectives from interpretation of
the past. sources
Content Goals

4 3 2 1

Beliefs, Ideas, and I can fully explain I can Summarize I can identify the I can identify some key
Diversity the key the key key components of components of various plans
components of components of various plans (Radical and President Johnson)
Key Components of various plans various plans (Radical and during Reconstruction.
Reconstruction Plans during during President Johnson)
Reconstruction Reconstruction during
(Radical and (Radical and Reconstruction
President President
Johnson). Johnson), but
cannot fully

Beliefs, Ideas, and I can provide a full I can summarize I can list reasons I can list few reason as to why
Diversity rationale for why why some saw why some saw some saw Radical
Radical Radical Radical Reconstruction as radical.
Viewpoints of Reconstruction Reconstruction as Reconstruction as
Reconstruction was seen as radical. radical.
radical, along with
an explanation of
whether or not I

Belief, Ideas, and I can fully explain I can describe the I can list how rights I can list a few reason about how
Diversity how rights for rights of African for African rights for African Americans
African Americans Americans that Americans were were expanded during
Impact of Reconstruction were expanded were expanded expanded during Reconstruction OR I can list a
on the freedom of African during during Reconstruction OR few reasons about how rights
Americans Reconstruction. Reconstruction. I can list how rights for African Americans were
OR I can fully OR I can describe for African infringed upon during
explain how rights the rights of Americans were Reconstruction.
for African African Americans infringed upon
Americans were that were restricted during
restricted during during Reconstruction.
Reconstruction. Reconstruction.
Resources for Historical Thinking

In both the teacher and student resources, I present resources that provide methods of

teaching historical thinking, as well as resources that students can use throughout a course as a

way to strengthen their skills. When referring to the ThingLink1 that includes resources for

students, you will find a series of advanced organizers, a database for historical research, and

other tools that may prove beneficial for students. Beginning with the advanced organizers

presented by educational specialist Glenn Wiebe, some school districts are implementing ways to

assist student engagement in the variety of texts used in a history course. Because of the diverse

nature of primary source documents, these organizers act as tools for students to collect evidence

and pull apart various pieces of data, while providing acronyms that are somewhat silly, but easy

for students to remember.

Along with these catchy organizers, the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) and the

Library of Congress (LOC) provide primary source analysis tools that help guide students

historical thinking skills, as well as ways to help them draw conclusions about the past.

Beginning with the historical thinking chart developed by SHEG, students would interact with

the left side of the chart by working through the questions that appropriately match the skill they

are practicing. Corresponding with the questions, the far right column provides a series of

sentence stems that prompt student responses.2 Similar to the advanced organizers described

above, the Primary Source Analysis tool helps students organize their investigations of primary

source documents. I began implementing this tool once students held an adequate understanding

1 Student Resource ThingLink:
2 Due to finding the organization of this chart confusing for my students, I simply adapted it into
a series of flash cards, where there was one card to each question. Reason being, I found the
objectives column distracting for students, and rather used those objectives to develop
assessment tools.
of the types of observations to make about the source and context, as well as how to connect

these observations to what they know and how to ask questions that will deepen their


To guide the research and writing process, the Gilder Lehrman Institute provides a database

where students can access collections of primary source documents, and the YouTube channel

Historical Thinker presents videos that guide students through the process that aligns with

document based questions (DBQs). When researching about historical periods, simply working

through a search engine may prove overwhelming and somewhat unreliable, thus, this particular

database makes history available to students by allowing them to select time periods, themes, or

types of documents to search, while strengthening their ability to conduct research.

To supplement the student resources, I developed a ThingLink3 that provides a series of

resources that found helpful in developing and scaffolding inquires, as well as materials to assess

student learning. Both the Reading Like a Historian curriculum developed by the Stanford

History Education Group and the DocsTeach site developed by the National Archives provide

teachers with focused lesson plans that reinforce historical thinking and inquiry-based learning.

Likewise, the Right Question Institute provides professional development in how to implement a

questioning technique into your classroom that helps students create questions that lead to

authentic investigations. As for finding ways to weave historical thinking and scaffold the

process, the Library of Congress allows teachers to access a variety of student tools for primary

source analysis. Lastly, it is important to assess how well students are working towards the

mastery of certain skills, and the UMBC Center for History Education has developed a rubric

that models how one may begin to measure student progress with historical thinking.

3 Teacher Resource ThingLink:

Civil War Heritage Trails. Civil War Lyrics: Battle Cry of Freedom.
Don Laird. The Battle Cry of Freedom. Civil War Music: The Battle Cry of Freedom. The Civil
War Trust.
Library of Congress. Primary Sources Analysis Tool.
Stanford History Education Group (2012). Reconstruction Structured Academic Controversy
Reading Like A Historian.
Tahl Leadership. ShareCropping Simulation.
The DBQ Project (2008). Hook Exercise Unit V. DBQs in American History: What Caused the
Civil War?