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This fun activity allows your students to write a letter as if they were Columbus himself. They will use prior knowledge from class discussion, handouts, with a letter to the King and Queen of Spain, facts about Columbus, (for reference), their textbook and some creativity.
This mini lesson can be done in two class periods if you like. I like to explain the activity in detail, explain the rubric and give students a chance to draft their ideas in one class period. The use of a computer lab would allow the students to type their letters the next class period, if you have access.