What if instead of having students read the next chapter in their textbooks when introducing a new topic in history, we asked them to draw their own inferences about what happened by closely examining primary and secondary sources? Voyages is a tangible user interface which allows students to think like historians by taking a virtual journey back in time to actively investigate the past, rather than passively memorize facts from a history textbook.
Through interactive, student-based inquiry, students will examine historical texts to learn more about how individuals experience the same events differently, how to uncover bias and motive in first person and third person biography/narration of historical events, and to question and corroborate information found in historical texts. The context for this lesson is Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas, a topic that is often misrepresented in textbooks.
DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Interactive Lesson Sequence
- Students will follow their assigned question number through each of Columbus’s major landings on his first trip to the Americas (although he thought he was in Asia) as they interact with the texts and media at each port on the interactive map.
- Emphasize the need to question and remain open-minded throughout most the exercise; collecting information and forming questions about it before they come to any judgements is important..
- At each “port,” students will read text and listen and view media related related to Christopher Columbus’ log or other sources for that particular location.
- At each “port,” students will enter short responses to their questions into text boxes; at the end, they can print out their text stream as notes/content for the final jigsaw activity.
- Before moving on to the next island or port, students will briefly share what they discovered from their question’s perspective.
- Once each group has moved through the interactive experience, the groups split into new groups by question number.
- Each new group compares their responses to their assigned questions (they each can bring their print outs) and prepare a five minute presentation to tell the class about what they learned that everyone in the class should know, what questions they still have, the kind of resources the need to learn more accurately and answer their remaining questions (and doubts), and what they learned from the activity.