Finding Central Ideas in "Speech to Washington"

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SWBAT identify central ideas and give reasoning for their choices by reading and discussing Chief Joseph's "Speech to Washington."

Big Idea

"Cowboys and Indians" in real life--identifying central ideas in historical text.

Do Now: Reviewing Art and Custer

5 minutes

In a previous lesson, I asked students to draw what they visualized when they heard the term "Old West." This is what happened:

After this drawing, we read and discussed Custer's "My Life on the Plains."

Today, I ask students to reflect: how does Custer match our drawing? Students are quick to point out that as in Custer's account, to the victor goes the honor. The wagon is the biggest item, perhaps revealing a domineering presence of whites. The good guys have gunned down the bad guys. We view them as heroes, whether or not they truly are.

I ask students to keep these ideas in mind today as we hear a somewhat different account of life in the west.

Reading and Discussing "Speech to Washington"

45 minutes

Today we dive into the "partner" text of "My Life on the Plains" (if a partner can be the opposite, anyway). We will study Chief Joseph's "Speech to Washington" for a very different perspective on life in the west.

We read the text with our read-write-share protocol. First, we read aloud a section of the text (several paragraphs typically, though we pause at what makes sense in the action). After each section, I ask students to identify what they believe to be most important and give reasoning. Then, we share our ideas.

As we read, students make note of many important ideas:

In our final discussion segment for the day, I ask students to look at the important ideas they pulled from each section and analyze how they developed in relation to one another. Students conclude the text claims that it was white settlers and troops, not Native Americans, who started the problems and that peace would still be possible if only all men were treated equal.