Each year, in my US History class, we take a look at the events leading up to the American Revolution – the ideas generated around the Great Awakening, the Proclamation of 1763, the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, the publication of Common Sense, etc. To me, there is some very provocative stuff there. But, some students are still surprised that violence and rebellion would break out in the polite, old fashioned citizenry of the quaint, old timey British colonies.
To help students understand this progression, I created the Farmer to Fighter Project. Basically, it is a timeline. But, instead of going from one chronological point to another, it goes from one emotional point to another.
Students had to choose any 5 events we studied. They had to show me that they understood these events by explaining, in detail, what happened – including dates, names of key individuals, the circumstances, and the outcome.
Throughout the progression, students had to show how an average colonial citizen would reasonably react to each new provocation.
Students could show this progression in a variety of ways. I suggested the following possibilities:
- a simple timeline
- a series of journal entries
- a series of newspaper articles
- a comic
But, I did not limit students to the above options – challenging them to come up with any creative and engaging way to show their learning. As usual, students astounded me.
There were other ways I could have assessed student learning, such as a test or a quiz. But, I wanted to give students more engaging and creative ways to showcase their ideas. Plus, taking the time to have the students the revolution journey in the shoes of a colonist really helped students to understand the frustrations and how an ordinary person could, over time, be pushed into doing something well outside their character.
Anyhow, hope this helps you bring history to life for your students. And, as always, please send any thoughts or suggestions!