Feast or Famine?

Description: This lesson plan was created by Arren Swift, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument's 2011 Teacher-Ranger-Teacher from Seminole High School in Florida. The lesson plan will allow students to review primary and secondary sources to draw a conclusion if the Mogollon who lived in the Gila Wilderness area had adequate food supplies or if they were facing famine conditions. The documents are composed of archeological data from the time of the Mogollon as well as more recent data of the Gila Wilderness area. The contrast of historic and contemporary facts will allow the students to understand the Gila Wilderness area throughout time. This lesson provides students an opportunity to improve their ability to clearly organize and convey their thoughts through either a verbal discussion or through writing an essay paper. This lesson provides an excellent opportunity to practice Document Based Question Essay writing that is found on Advanced Placement tests for World History.

Title: Feast or Famine?

Question: During the time the Mogollon inhabited the Gila Cliff Dwellings was there an abundance of food or were the people facing famine conditions?

Time: 1 to 8 hours (Lesson can be modified to use fewer documents to reduce time)

National Standards: Social ScienceHistorical Thinking Standard 2 and 3

  1. Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative.
  2. Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage by identifying who was involved, what happened, where it happened, what events led to these developments, and what consequences or outcomes followed.
  3. Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses and the purpose, perspective, or point of view from which it has been constructed.
  4. Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations but acknowledge that the two are related; that the facts the historian reports are selected and reflect therefore the historian's judgement of what is most significant about the past.
  5. The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation.
  6. Consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs, interests, hopes, and fears.
  7. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships bearing in mind multiple causation including (a) the importance of the individual in history; (b) the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs; and (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational.

New Mexico State Standards: 5-8 Benchmark 1-A. New Mexico: explore and explain how people and events have influenced the development of New Mexico up to the present day:

5. explain how New Mexicans have adapted to their physical environments to meet their needs over time (e.g., living in the desert, control over water resources, pueblo structure, highway system, use of natural resources); and

5-8 Benchmark 1-D. Skills: research historical events and people from a variety of perspectives:

1. differentiate between, locate and use primary and secondary sources (e.g., computer software, interviews, biographies, oral histories, print, visual material, artifacts) to acquire information;

2. use resources for historical information (e.g., libraries, museums, historical societies, courthouse, worldwide web, family records, elders);

3. gather, organize and interpret information using a variety of media and technology;

4. show the relationship between social contexts and events; and

5. use effective communication skills and strategies to share research findings.

6 1. organize information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing and contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, drawing inferences and conclusions;

2. identify different points of view about an issue or topic; and

3. use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a solution; gather information, identify options, predict consequences and take action to implement that solution.

7 1. analyze and evaluate information by developing and applying criteria for selecting appropriate information and use it to answer critical questions;

2. demonstrate the ability to examine history from the perspectives of the participants;

9-12 benchmark 1-A. New Mexico: analyze how people and events of New Mexico have influenced United States and
world history since statehood

Sunshine State Standards:

Standard 1:

The student understands historical chronology and the historical perspective. (SS.A.1.3)

2. knows the relative value of primary and secondary sources and uses this information to draw conclusions from historical sources such as data in charts, tables, graphs.

3. knows how to impose temporal structure on historical narratives.

Standard 2:

The student understands the world from its beginnings to the time of the Renaissance. (SS.A.2.3)

4. understands the impact of geographical factors on the historical development of civilizations.

Standard 2: The student understands the interactions of people and the physical environment. (SS.B.2.3)

Time, Continuity, and Change [History]

Standard 1: The student understands historical chronology and the historical perspective. (SS.A.1.4)

3. evaluates conflicting sources and materials in the interpretation of a historical event or episode.

4. uses chronology, sequencing, patterns, and periodization to examine interpretations of an event.


- Read the introductory essay as a class.

- Review the question "During the time the Mogollon inhabited the Gila Cliff Dwellings was there an abundance of food or were the people facing famine conditions?"

- Evaluate Document A as a class using the document analysis sheet .

- Provide students time to evaluate the remaining documents using their document analysis sheets.

Document B

Document C

Document D

Document E

Document F

Document G

Document H

Document I

Document J

Document K

Document L

Document M

Document N

Document O

- Group related documents in categories to make drawing inferences more manageable.

- After completing the document analysis sheets students should choose a side to argue Feast or Famine.

- Students should compose an outline for their argument being sure to include facts and sources.

- (Option if you would prefer not to have the students write an essay you can separate the students into different sides and have a class discussion debating facts from each of the documents.)

- A class discussion should follow up the assignment. In reality the students should see that most likely it was not feast or famine but somewhere in between.

- Have the students write an essay supporting their view point being sure to use as many of the documents in their essay as possible.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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