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Peter Pappas: Designs for Learning

What did Europeans see when they looked at the New World and the Native Americans?
A Document Based Activity by Peter Pappas
This lesson improves content reading comprehension and critical thinking skills with an engaging array of source documents – including journal entries, letters, maps, and illustrations. It examines European views of Native American and the New World in the Age of Exploration. While it is a rather one-sided account, the documents also reveal a great deal about the cultural "lenses" that the Europeans "looked though."

I developed this lesson to assist high school history teachers working with struggling readers. I wanted to show them how they could scaffold learning so that all students could participate in doing the work of historians.
I built the lesson around a theme which was central to their curriculum. It was designed as an essential question that would engage students in reflection about how they allowed prejudice to color their perceptions. I selected images which could be “decoded” by students with a minimum of background knowledge.

The source material contains twenty-five documents in text and image formats. I modernized historic accounts at two reading levels – 5th and 8th grade. Each contains the same twenty five documents. A series of six exercises accompanies the lesson to guide students through the process of extracting information from the documents and constructing their own answers to the essential question.

Documents printable / viewable
3 MB pdfs

5th grade reading level
8th grade reading level

Also included are six activity Worksheets  printable / viewable pdfs


Adam and Eve in America
Theodor de Bry 1590

Visit Teaching with Documents
for more DBQ's.


Why We Fight
 multi-touch iBook 
available at iTunes

13 rarely seen WWII propaganda films
43 historic posters and more

CCSS learning prompts


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