This guided inquiry utilizes 12 quotes from a variety of sources on Columbus and his legacy: everything from the Traditional Children’s Poem that heroizes him, to Howard Zinn’s less than favorable view of the legendary figure, to a few of Columbus’ journal entries as primary documents, and even to textbooks from the 1800’s that function as their own primary source for what students used to be presented in the story of Columbus. All these documents offer the opportunity to explore how historians shape people’s perceptions of the past through what they include in their stories or omit.
This guided inquiry includes a few guided questions for each document to assist students in understanding the meaning of key terms or concepts. Other questions explore the nature of historical inquiry and the differences of what a text explicitly states, what it claims and what it implies.
Each year students come away from the activity with a variety of beliefs about Columbus even though the shady side of Columbus is presented. The guided inquiry packet can stand alone or be used with an included PowerPoint presentation, analysis of Social Institutions of Arawak society, and a number of resources to choose from if you want to add a writing assignment to the investigation. I’ve included a link to a Google Document that you can use in a Google Classroom as well. The main packet includes a PDF version if you don’t have Microsoft Publisher.
No matter how you choose to implement this lesson or how you assess it, student always enjoy debating about this topic and discussing the documents included.