Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spotlight on Critical Thinking: Using Photographs to Understand Native American and Euro-American Interactions

     Many students throughout the nation learn about Native Americans in 3rd grade.  Part of this learning involves learning about interactions that have taken place over time between Native Americans and Euro-Americans.  From a conceptual lens, this means that students might use a variety of sources to identify the nature of those interactions, and when interactions indicate elements of cooperation and/or conflict.  Embedded within history units from Kindergarten to 12th grades, students will examine interactions that take place in different times, different places, and among different cultures.

This lesson uses historical sources (images of Native Americans) and provides opportunities for students to analyze photographic images.  In this situation, analysis involves 1) identifying what you notice within the photographs, 2) asking questions and identifying things that you wonder about, and 3) making inferences about the interactions based on information/evidence acquired through analysis.

Essential Question: What do photographs reveal about interactions that have taken place between Native Americans and Euro-Americans over time?

Native Americans: Legislation (photo set)
Native Americans: Warriors and Battles (photo set)
Native American: Tribes and Cultures (photo set)

Learning Activity/Process: 
This lesson is based on critical thinking processes.  The spotlight of this lesson is on the process a historian uses to analyze sources. While the content is important, students acquire content knowledge through engaging in the critical analysis of photographs. Therefore, teachers must consider how students will document their thinking.  This might initially happen as a whole class so students see a model of how a historian documents critical thinking about a source.  Next, students might engage in this analysis in small groups.  Last, the teacher might assess student mastery of this skill by asking a student to engage in this thinking and documentation independently.

  1. The class will choose a set of images to analyze first.  Images (above in the sources section) can be analyzed collectively as a group or one at a time.  Notice how each link connects to a set of images based on a general topic for Native Americans. 
  2. The class will view the images and engage in processes based on the following questions:
    1. What do you notice in the images?
    2. What clues do you notice in the images related to interactions between Native Americans and Euro-Americans?
    3. What clues do you notice about when or where these interactions take place? (Essentially, are they all from long ago or do some of them seem more recent?)
    4. What clues are revealed within the captions to each photo?
    5. As you look at each photo, what questions or wonderings do you have?
    6. Now that you've identified what you notice and the questions you might have, what inferences or conclusions might you draw from the photos related to interactions between Native Americans and Euro-Americans?
  3. Repeat this process with each set of photos. 
  4. Teachers are encouraged to be thoughtful around when students need the opportunity to pause and make meaning of their learning.  Open-ended questions to guide this type of conversation might be, "After analyzing the photos, what are you beginning to understand now that you may not have understood before? How are the photos helping you to have a better sense of interactions that have taken place over time between Native Americans and Euro-Americans?"

No comments:

Post a Comment