The Costs and Benefits of Imperialism: Primary Source Review (Day 2 of 3)

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SWBAT determine the central idea of a text and analyze its development by reading and analyzing thematically connected primary source documents.

Big Idea

As we continue to prepare for our seminar, we will gather textual evidence from a variety of perspectives about the topic of imperialism.

Registration Day

Today's schedule will be a little funny. As I'm sure is the case in many of your schools too, English classes tend to be the go-to classes for "extra" stuff. I don't blame the counselors/administrators for using our core classes to do the registration process--all students are enrolled in an English class, so it's easy to catch the whole school through my class. 

Thankfully, my teaching partner has agreed to take the students to the computer labs to register so that I am not missing all three periods of instruction required for this process (I gave up the other two). We are only allowed to send half of our students to the lab at a time, so I will stay in the classroom with the other half and will lead them through our primary source review. We are hoping that registration will only take one of the two periods we have with the kids so that Mr. Madole will also have some time for instruction, but we'll see how it goes.

Primary Source Anlaysis

40 minutes

While each half takes a turn registering, the students who stay in class with me will complete the following assignment.

As preparation for our seminar on Friday, we are once again using primary sources from our history text book today. This will be our second set of sources (the first came from the first half of this two-unit pairing and can be found here). Students will read each source as an example of a unique perspective about imperialism and gather specific evidence from each source for the seminar (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1).

The first source is a letter written by King Menelek II, the king of Ethiopia during the 1800s. To help students understand his unique perspective, I will ask them to read a background sheet that explains that this African king was one of the few traditional tribal leaders to fight the imperialist movements on his continent.

I will provide guiding questions for this activity, which will ask students to once again apply their skills with document analysis using the SOAPSTone tool and Point of View Statements, which will once again ask them to provide an objective summary of the text as well as analyzing how specific details add to their understanding (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2). I will let them work in their Faulkner Squares for this activity so they can discuss their interpretations and hopefully come to insightful conclusions about what the text says explicitly as well as what is implied about the nature of imperialism and gather evidence from this discussion to use in their seminar later in the week (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1).

Depending on how much time remains and/or when students will have to take their turn registering, I will give them an additional primary source to analyze in class or for homework.

This piece is a contract between a British mining company and a tribal king from South Africa. I will encourage the students to pay close attention to the introduction information that is provided in their text, which basically states that the king felt betrayed and manipulated by the British company, even to the point that he wrote a letter to Queen Victoria asking for her to free him from the terms of the contract. As with the King Menelek II document, I will ask students to do a SOAPSTone, a Point of View statement and provide some written analysis of why this particular perspective is important to consider when learning about imperialism. I don't know how many sources we will be able to get through prior to the seminar, but I hope that these two perspectives will provide a some contrast perspectives to those presented in Heart of Darkness

Even though I am providing them with these specific texts, I am treating this as a mini-research process as of these texts is meant to provide a fuller understanding of the topic at hand and will ultimately be a used to synthesize their thinking (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7).


Preview of Next Unit: Book Talks

15 minutes

The last part of class will actually be spent looking ahead to our next unit, which will begin in about a week. In our next unit, students will be reading one of four Dystopian choice novels and participating in a range of collaborative work as we analyze how literature can be used as a means of social commentary.

Because three of these books have some mature themes/content and because my district has been struggling with a very conservative board and parent groups about what is appropriate to teach in schools, I want to make sure students know what books they can choose from in advance so they can make a well-informed decision based on their family's values and rules.

I will book talk each of the novels and try to give a brief summary of what might be questionable material. Here is a brief summary of what I will say about each text:

  • A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: This is the most mature of the four books as it explicitly deals with gender roles and sexuality. I will warn students that it is an AP level text that has some swearing and graphic sexuality. I will also tell them a little about the plot/Dystopian themes.
  • 1984 by George Orwell: This novel is the most difficult read, so I will warn students about the vocabulary and esoteric themes. I will also warn them that this book contains sexual scenes as well. 
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Shockingly, this book also has sex in it (what am I teaching?!? =)). I will tell the kids that in terms of difficulty, it is a little easier to read/comprehend, but they will have to do a little more historical research/outside information gathering to understand all of the allusions that Huxley makes.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: This is the novel that I will give to some of my lower readers as I have the most support material to go with it. I will allow it as a choice for everyone, though, because I think it is just as valuable/interesting as the rest. It is also a good alternative novel for those who are concerned with the sexual content of the other books as this is the only book that does not reference sex.