Today students will synthesize facts from informational text to understand similarities and differences by authors about the Trail of Tears. Students have read many primary and secondary sources about this historical event. However, this is the first time students are looking at the structure of the text to understand its meaning. To initiate the start of this lesson, students will respond to the following prompt:
Chief John Ross and President Andrew Jackson both play a pivotal role in the Trail of Tears. In a paragraph, create arguments that support either Ross or Jackson’s stance about the Cherokee Indians, expanding America, and preserving one’s homelands. Be sure to support your stance with at least three examples.
Students will respond to the prompt in their notebooks. After the time given for the assignment has expired, students can share their information with a partner or aloud to the class. Since this lesson follows a series of activities on the Trail of Tears, students should depict a strong tone when writing about a topic that is so sensitive and controversial. Having students write and not debate allows all students to participate in the activity while incorporating practice with grammar and elaboration.
I decided to start this lesson in this fashion since much of the content studied in class comes from both ELA and Social Studies classes. I want students to move throughout the course of this topic by discovering their own opinions and perceptions about Ross and Jackson. Creating arguments can be difficult if justification is not considered by students before making strong stated opinions about a topic. I always direct students' attention to the reasons why statements can be supported or opposed. However, students wrote what initially came to mind when thinking about these two men. To my surprise, each class held a division between which man was right in their stance during the Indian Removal Period.
Here are two student work samples:
Chief Ross epitomizes how powerful a fight is with words and not actions. His influence during this time period allowed him to be the only chief of the Cherokee Nation and fight until his death for the justices these human beings so rightfully deserved.
President Jackson's fearless nature as a leader left him one legacy of relocating and dying off thousands of Native Americans along the Trail of Tears. Fighting against federal law in Georgia, Jackson held back nothing to establish a life for Indians that segregated them from whites to live a more peaceful life.
I will go over the purpose of organizing information in nonfiction text with the students. We organize information to grasp a better understanding of what is going on in the literature. For today’s organizational strategy, students will watch a video on comparing and contrasting information. I love the kid friendly nature of this video since these students use real life examples and simple language to define the concept.
As students watch the video, they will take notes on the denotation of compare and contrast.The information that will be taken from the video will include the definitions of the words "compare" and "contrast" and the picture of a Venn Diagramming stating where each set of information will be placed within the graphic organizer. These notes will be placed on the right side of their interactive notebooks.
Primary and secondary history documents can pose difficulty for students due to length, language/vocabulary, and ideas about particular events. Since students have worked in groups to complete all tasks related to The Trail of Tears, the amount of shared knowledge and analysis has created wonderful opportunities for students. At this time in the lesson, students will read two speeches entitled, Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress and Cherokee Letter Protesting the Treaty of New Echota
Groups were selected by students. I gave free range for them to select who they wanted to work with since this activity requires students to work closely with one another to understand informational text. Since each group has 4 members, I will suggest that each group break into pairs to read a different speech. Afterwards, the groups will come back together to discuss what was read in each article. Each group will place their information on a Venn Diagram.
Students will read more primary and secondary sources on the Trail of Tears. This will lead them to formulating their own perspectives about the Indian Removal. I will end class by mentioning how today's lesson will provide information for the perspective posters students will complete in tomorrow's lesson.