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Fact Versus Fiction: Comparing Primary and Secondary Sources About Christopher Columbus and the Colonization of the New World With a New Perspective on Thanksgiving

This curriculum unit is entitled, Fact versus Fiction: Comparing Primary and Secondary Sources about Christopher Columbus and the colonization of the New World with a new perspective on Thanksgiving.  The essential question is “How can students determine truth from various sources?” 

The first part of my unit is about Christopher Columbus.  He was a complicated man with very simple wants and desires: gold and land.  The students and myself will read entries from his journal, entries from missionaries’ journals, and compare these primary sources to secondary sources like their current social studies textbook.  Students will have to ask tough questions: Could this genocide been avoided?  Did Christopher Columbus even try to avoid it or even WANT this destruction of human life?

Secondly, students will read primary and secondary sources about Thanksgiving.  There wasn’t a first feast.  In fact, there wasn’t any feast.  Abe Lincoln wanted a holiday to cheer up families and the soldiers during the Civil War.  FDR declared it a legal holiday to help businesses during the great depression.  So, can we still celebrate Thanksgiving even though we know the basis for it is completely false?  What could we do instead of celebrating Thanksgiving?

Lastly, this is the most important part of the unit: activism.  Students have new knowledge, what should they do with it?  How can they become activists?  My students are young, but they are very aware of their surroundings.  They love social media, and they love technology.  How can I help them to use social media to advocate for a new cause? 

Professor Lucy Williams opened our eyes to many harsh realities and beauties of the Native American culture.  There are many new advocates because of her and the speakers she had come into our classroom and share their experiences.

Kathleen Radebaugh

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