Part of studying history is deciphering fact from myth. It is a fact that the Revolutionary War’s first battle was the Battle at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, but it has long been debated who fired the first shot. In this project students investigate different perspectives of the same event in history. After researching, students make a claim and use the Showing Evidence Tool to document their evidence and argue their claim.
The teacher uses two newspaper articles that reflect two different versions of the same recent event. The teacher reads one of the news articles to the class, then asks the class to consider the Essential Question: Is everything you read true? The class briefly discusses. Then the teacher reads aloud the second news article. The class discusses any new or different information they learned from the second news article. The teacher then asks the class to think about: How are multiple perspectives of a story important? They discuss multiple perspectives and how to find the truth of a situation if they weren’t there to witness it for themselves.
As a class, students discuss whether documenting events in the past is worthwhile. The students do a Think-Pair-Share activity about times when writing down what happened to them would have been helpful or times when it did help them.
The teacher reads the first paragraph from Our Country, Volume II by Benson J. Lossing. The class discusses the debate about which side fired the first shot of the Revolutionary War. The teacher explains to the students that there are many different accounts of the story from different people who were there.
Individually, students research different perspectives using any and all resources available. They examine the issue objectively and devise a claim answering the Unit Question: Who fired the first shot of the Revolutionary War?
Students with similar claims collaborate. Working in teams of two or three, students use the Showing Evidence Tool to structure the support for their answer. Teams should have five pieces of evidence to support their claim and three that could weaken the claim. Students cite their evidence and rate it according to how reliable it is.
Afterwards, student teams are assigned another team’s work to review. Then, students present their claims in a class debate.
Finally, students reflect upon their point of view versus other groups’ perspectives. Using information and knowledge they gleaned from using the Showing Evidence Tool and participating in the debate, students respond again to the essential question: Is everything you read true?
The Showing Evidence Tool space below represents one team's investigation in this project. You can double-click on the evidence to read the team's descriptions.
Project Name: Who fired “The Shot Heard Around the World?” (Click here to set up this project in your workspace)
Prompt: Who fired the first shot of the American Revolution?
Explore an interactive demo.
Grade Level: 4-5
Subject(s): Social Studies
Key Learnings: American History, Multiple Perspectives, Argumentation
Time Needed: Five 45-minute lessons