It’s a story familiar to every American child: John Smith, captured by Powhatan Indians, was about to have his head smashed in when suddenly the Chief’s daughter, Pocahontas, laid her head on his and begged her father not to kill Smith, thereby saving his life. But is it true?
The answer to that is simple: nobody really knows. In this activity, students will examine both sides of the question, analyze the arguments made for and against the veracity of Smith's story, and decide for themselves whether or not Smith was telling the truth when he told this tale. They will then use what they have learned to write a persuasive essay arguing whichever side they choose – as long as they back their argument up with evidence.
* four pages of informative text, including the two opposing arguments;
* an inquiry based study guide for students to record their analysis of the two arguments;
* essay instructions;
* an essay outline for students to use to organize their essay;
* teacher’s guide which includes sample study guide and outline responses;
* a PowerPoint with sample essay responses.
Materials are provided in one zip file.
I’ve used this activity with my 8th grade class for years, and it never fails to engage and interest students.
This activity is part of a complete and comprehensive unit
on Jamestown, Plymouth, and the 13 Colonies, as well as part of a complete mini-unit
solely on Jamestown.
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