Warning: The website is not able to handle more than 15 connections at a time. Please do not have groups larger than 15 submit content at one time.

If you would like to help improve the site, please send an email to webmaster@chnm.gmu.edu with the number of connections, browser type and version, OS type and version, and the exact URL you were trying to access when the issue began.

Lessons

Spanish-American War: 3 Day Lesson

Overview:

In these lessons, students learn to read more analytically as they investigate the causes of the Spanish-American War. After hypothesizing causes for the war, they test their hypotheses using successive sets of documents. They answer the notebook questions for these documents and consider how each informs the inquiry question. Using historian think-alouds from the site, the teacher can model a historical read of particular passages. Finally, students practice these new ways of reading with a document they find in a directed webquest.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will begin to understand multiple reasons for the Spanish-American War and that textual evidence can be used to support arguments about cause.
  • Students will begin to read documents historically, using skills of sourcing, contextualization, careful reading, and corroboration.

Plan of Instruction:

DAY ONE (approximately 50 minutes)
Step 1: 3 minutes: Introduce inquiry

Write inquiry question on board: Why did the U.S. invade Cuba?

"In June 1898, the U.S. sent troops into Cuba. Over the next few days, we are going to investigate why. I will play the following movie twice. Both times, listen for all the different possible reasons why the U.S. chose to invade Cuba. The first time, just listen."

Step 2: 6 minutes: Show movie

Show movie

Show movie again. "This time when you watch it, take notes about anything that might help you answer the question: Why did the U.S. invade Cuba?"

Step 3: 5 minutes: Generate hypotheses

Ask students to share some of the possible reasons the movie presents for why the U.S. invaded Cuba. List these on board. Ask students to generate additional reasons to add to the list.

Step 4: 5 minutes: Quick write

Students respond to the prompt: What two reasons do you believe to be most compelling? Why?

Step 5: 2 minutes: Check student responses

By show of hands, elicit which hypotheses students favored.

Step 6: 3 minutes: Pre-read

Hand out documents chart.

Explain that students will now work with historical sources that shed light on the question being investigated. For each source, students should fill in document chart and be prepared to answer the following question: Which of the hypotheses listed on the board does this document support?

Explain that students will not read all the sources in this chart and that’s okay.

Step 7: 20 minutes: Read and analyze

Students could do this work in pairs or in small groups, or a combination of individual and small groupings. You want to allow each student opportunities to read and analyze and to hear others’ thinking about these questions.

Pass out (1) Journal document and (2) "Awake U.S." document. Ask students to answer notebook questions for each, and to fill in the document chart for these sources.

Before having students attempt this on their own, you may wish to do the first question or two together as a class. Students may also need support to understand the types of responses appropriate for the document chart.

Step 8: 5 minutes: Discuss

Look back at the list of hypotheses on the board. Ask students: How do these three sources support or contest any of the hypotheses? Are any more convincing to you now? Should we add any new hypotheses? Change or eliminate any existing hypotheses? Pepper the discussion with follow-up questions: What is something from the text(s) that you read that supports your analysis/statement? Who agrees or disagrees with this?

Note to teacher: Keep this list of hypotheses in a format that is accessible to students (chart paper, overhead, student notebooks, etc.) You will refer to them throughout this instructional sequence.

Homework

Hand out "March" document. Have students respond to notebook questions and fill out document chart to prepare for next lesson.

DAY TWO (approximately 50 minutes)
Step 1: 5 minutes: Review homework

Share reading and analysis. Put students into small groups and ask them to share what they wrote in their document chart about "March." What hypotheses does this document support? Groups should come to some agreement.

Step 2: 10 minutes: Discuss (whole class)

According to the "March" document, why did the U.S. invade Cuba? How does this differ from the hypothesis that yesterday’s documents supported? This speech was given in September, 1898, and the U.S. invaded Cuba in June—so can we use this document as evidence for why the U.S. went to war? Why or why not?

Step 3: 10 minutes: View think-aloud

Explain that you are now going to show a clip of how one historian reads part of this document.

View think-aloud of Natalia reading "March." Show think-aloud of "March" twice. Hand out Commentary worksheet and have students read it independently. Then, show think-aloud a third time.

Step 4: 5 minutes: Discuss (whole class)

What historical knowledge did Natalia bring to the reading? How does this shape her understanding of Beveridge and what he’s saying? Does she think the document sheds light on why the U.S. invaded Cuba? How did her reading compare to your homework answers?

Step 5: 10 minutes: Read

With a partner, have students practice "reading the silences" as directed at the bottom of the commentary. Ask some partners to share their responses with the whole class.

Step 6: 5 minutes: Revisit hypotheses

What hypotheses have been supported so far? Pepper the discussion with follow-up questions: What is something from the text(s) that you read that supports your analysis/statement? Who agrees or disagrees with this?

Homework

Hand out "Camps" document. Have students respond to notebook questions and fill out document chart.

DAY THREE (approximately 50 minutes)
Step 1: 5 minutes: Share homework

Put students back in groups from yesterday and ask them to share what they wrote in their document chart about "Camps." What hypotheses does this document support? Groups should come to some agreement.

Step 2: 10 minutes: Discuss (whole class)

According to the "Camps" document, why did the U.S. invade Cuba? Do you think this is a compelling piece of evidence that Americans went to war for humanitarian reasons? What other evidence could help you make a convincing case?

Step 3: 10 minutes: View think-aloud

Explain that you are going to show Natalia (the historian from Day 2) reading a different document.

View think-aloud of Natalia reading "Camps." Show think-aloud of "Camps" twice. Hand out Commentary and have students read it independently. Then, show think-aloud a third time.

Step 4: 10 minutes: Discuss (whole class)

What parts of the text drew Natalia’s attention? Why? How did her reading of the text differ from yours? What does Natalia do as she reads the document? How does this shape her understanding of Lee and what he’s saying? How does this document shed light on why the U.S. invaded Cuba?

Step 5: 5 minutes: Revisit document chart

What hypotheses have been supported so far? What hypotheses from Day 1 have not yet been supported? When you do the webquest, find at least one document that supports or contests one of our hypotheses.

Step 6: 10 minutes: Begin Webquest

Begin Webquest Alternative #1. Help students choose a document that will help them answer the question: What (if anything) does this document suggest about the causes of the Spanish-American War? Explain using examples and quotes from the text.

Homework

Finish Webquest Alternative #1 for only one source. (The Webquest directions say to do two sources.)