Author:
ESU Coordinating Council, Nebraska OER
Subject:
History, U.S. History
Material Type:
Unit of Study
Level:
Upper Primary, Middle School
Grade:
5
Tags:
  • IDM
  • NE SS
  • Nebraska Department of Education
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    European Explorer: Christopher Columbus

    European Explorer: Christopher Columbus

    Overview

    This inquiry provides students with an opportunity to investigate the journeys of Christopher Columbus. They will construct an argument in response to the compelling question “How should Christopher Columbus be remembered?” The activities focus on motivations, costs/consequences of the journeys and different perspectives. 

    Resource created by Melissa Brabec, Leigh Public Schools, as part of the Nebraska ESUCC Social Studies Special Projects 2022 - Inquiry Design Model (IDM).

    Inquiry Question

    How should we remember Christopher Columbus?

     

    Supporting Questions

    1. What were the motivations behind Christopher Columbus’ journey?
    2. What were the costs/consequences of Christopher Columbus’ journey?
    3. How might multiple perspectives of Christopher Columbus’ journey differ?

     

    Overview

    Description

    This inquiry provides students with an opportunity to investigate the journeys of Christopher Columbus. They will construct an argument in response to the compelling question, “How should Christopher Columbus be remembered?” The three supporting questions focus on motivations, costs/consequences of the journeys and different perspectives. The formative performance task is designed to build students’ reasoning as they productively investigate the compelling question.

     

    Nebraska Social Studies Standards (2019)

    • SS 5.4.2a - Compare and contrast primary and secondary sources to better understand multiple perspectives of the same event.
    • SS 5.4.2b - Identify and describe how multiple perspectives facilitate the understanding of US history.
    • SS 5.4.3a - Compare the impact of people, events, ideas, and symbols on various cultures and ethnic groups in the Pre-Columbian era through the Constitution.

     

    Note: This inquiry is expected to take four to six 40-minute class periods. The inquiry time frame could expand if the teachers think their students need additional instructional experiences (i.e., supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources). Teachers are encouraged to adapt the inquiries in order to meet the needs and interests of their particular students. Resources can also be modified as necessary to meet individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans for students with disabilities.

    Staging the Compelling Question

    Project the World Map Source to the class and have them look at the map on their own first.  

    Then share with an elbow partner what things they see or what beliefs they have about the map.  Finally, share ideas with the class - these can be recorded by the teacher or just as a discussion.

    Reveal to them that map is from 1490, before much exploration has taken place - specifically noticing the Americas and how they look.

    Play the Khan Academy video on Christopher Columbus for background knowledge.  

    Share a jamboard with the students, have them record any and all knowledge they have about Christopher Columbus.

    Have students individually complete the Empowered Learner Activity (see attached) to gain an understanding of their knowledge before you begin.

    Supporting Question 1

    What were the motivations behind Christopher Columbus’ journey?

     

    This examines the motivations of Christopher Columbus and Spain/King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel.

    Hand out or make available Source A: Article of Motivations of Exploration for each student. Annotate the article using any method that is familiar to your students; share forthcomings in small groups, then as a class discussion.

    Make available Source B: Map of Americas, 1500; allow students in small groups to go through the slides reading and looking at the map then completing Source C: Map Analysis Worksheet

    Hand out or make available Source D: Image of Christopher Columbus bidding farewell to the queen of Spain.  Pause and allow students time to look at the artwork in small groups and completing Source E: Artwork Analysis Worksheet

    Supporting Question 2

    What were the costs/consequences of Christopher Columbus’ journey?

     

    This exploration can lead to positive and negative effects to Christopher Columbus, Spain, or the Native Americans.

    Source A: 1493 letter from Christopher Columbus to the Queen and King 

    This is the complete letter mainly for your reference as a teacher.  It may be too overwhelming to students for them to read the entire document, but it could be shown to them in its entirety.

    Source B: Columbus’ abridged letter 

    This is the shortened letter that pulls some key ideas from the main letter.  It is a source that can be used in the classroom.

    Source C: Student Excerpt/Worksheet - #3 or Student Excerpt/Worksheet - #4 

    Put students with a partner and give them one excerpt, either 3 or 4, to analyze.  So half of the class should end up with #3 and the other half #4.  Give them time to read and analyze, then put groups together with one group that read #3 and the other group #4.  Let them share and discuss their findings.

    Keeping these groups give one group copies or access to: Source D: Map of World 1492 & the other half copies of or access to Source E: World Map before the Voyages & Americas after the Voyages along with Source F: Map Analysis Worksheet. Let the groups explore and then share their findings to the entire class.

    Source D: Map of World 1492 

    Source E: World Map before the Voyages & Americas after the Voyages 

    Source F: Map Analysis Worksheet

    Source G: 1st Landing in New World 

    Finally, project Source G to the class. Pause and let students study the artwork, possibly even letting students come to the projected image and look closer, putting thoughts on a sticky note.  After everyone has had a chance to look, have students come up one at a time and read their thoughts and place them on the white board.

    The same process can be used for Source H: Landing of Columbus. This can lead to a good discussion and let you as the teacher do a check for understanding as well.

    Supporting Question 3

    How might multiple perspectives of Christopher Columbus’ journey differ?

     

    This question uses images for students to analyze and use to support their claim.

    Display around the room or give access to:

    Students will do a gallery walk to examine images and choose one or two to analyze more specifically using the Analyze a Map Worksheet or Analyze Artwork Worksheet on their own. Students can share with the whole group or do a stand-pair-share strategy to communicate their analysis.

    Summative Performance Task

    How should we remember Christopher Columbus?  In small groups, create an argument (e.g., podcast, essay, infographic, etc.) addressing the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence and information. Use the Project Rubric (see attached)

    Have students complete the second half of the Empower Learning Activity to compare their learnings throughout the unit.

     

    Extension

    Have students research a different European explorer and decide what effect their journeys had on the Americas or other countries.

     

    Taking Informed Action

    Write a letter to Scholastic News on your views of Christopher Columbus.  (This could be a debatable topic in a section.) Inform others about your learnings through a debate, podcast, poster, etc. Transform - Hold a school wide Columbus Day presentation or skit about your learnings.