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Middle School Social Studies: Columbus Day–Alternative Points of View
6, 5, 4
Objective: Students will explore the complexity of feelings surrounding Columbus’s landing by envisioning the story from multiple points of view.
Discuss the idea of “discovery” with students. What does it mean to “discover” something – and how might it feel to be discovered? Ask students if they’ve ever heard that Columbus discovered America. Ask students how they might feel if a strange ship landed in their backyard and claimed they had discovered it. Obviously, it would be new to the aliens – yes – but would it be new to the students?
Read them an appropriately leveled picture book about Columbus. (An alternative to the picture book would be to show the three minute National Geographic video.
Activity: Ask students to imagine the moment that Columbus landed – how do they think Columbus and his people felt as they were rowing on to shore? How did the indigenous people feel when the boat appeared and strangers rowed to shore? How did the King and Queen of Spain or Columbus’s wife feel – back home with no way to communicate with him? Ask students to make a small drawing of this landing moment and write (A fill in the blank sentence for younger students – older students can write a few sentences or a paragraph) from the point of view of someone involved.
When students have finished their activity, have them share their pictures and sentences with the rest of the group.
Verification: Student discussions should indicate basic knowledge of the Columbus landing and various viewpoints of the people involved.