2. Based on current scholarship, what are reasonable conclusions one can reach with respect to the inquiry problem? What are competing conclusions about which historians disagree?
TwHP lesson plans are well-researched, well-documented, and are written by site experts, educators, or historians. As a result, each lesson conveniently provides the information necessary to form the basis of an inquiry exercise.
3. On what evidence are these conclusions based?
There are many types of evidence or sources--primary, secondary, visual, written, etc. TwHP lesson plans are based on a variety of sources to ensure a well-rounded approach to the topic. The Determining the Facts section of each lesson typically contains one or more readings based on multiple sources. When possible, this section includes primary documents as well. Locating the Site and Visual Evidence sections contain an array of historic and modern images, drawings, maps, etc. When studied together, these multiple forms of evidence combine to provide a more representative view of the problem.
4. How can I make this evidence accessible to my students, in the form of 2-D and 3-D primary documents—accessible in the multiple senses of “proximity” (is it a place that can be visited), “retrievable” (is it a document or an artifact that is available for examination/use) and “understandable” (for example, is the language of the document comprehensible to my students)?
As stated above, TwHP lesson plans are a convenient tool because each one offers a ready-to-use collection of primary and secondary sources related to a historic place. Refer to the “Materials for students”section under About This Lesson for a complete list of materials in each lesson. Gold Fever! includes the following materials or evidence:
5. Is there an initial document, artifact, model, photograph, map, or physical setting I can present to students that:
- Will generate an awareness of the problem,
- Will spark interest in constructing an explanation that resolves the problem, and
- Will prompt students to propose several testable hypotheses for which additional evidence can be brought to bear?
The initial piece of evidence sets the tone for the students’ experience with the inquiry lesson. Selecting this piece of evidence is critical, but can be tricky. It needs to provide students with enough information to formulate one or more hypotheses, but not so much it leaves nothing to be solved. It is important for students to examine and analyze multiple pieces of evidence (visual and written, primary and secondary) in order for them to reach logical and thorough conclusions. The initial piece of evidence, however, is the only tangible material students will use to formulate their initial hypotheses. As such, it should provide thought-provoking clues, but should not reveal the answer(s) to the question.
After examining all the materials in the lesson plan, select a single piece (most likely a photograph, map, or other visual as opposed to a reading) that best meets the above criteria. The initial piece of evidence selected for this case study is Map 1: Routes from Seattle to the Klondike Gold Fields. This map provides enough information to give students a bit of context without “giving away” too much information. At this point, you may need to slightly modify the wording of the problem to make sure it fits well with the piece of evidence.
With the inquiry question/problem in hand, students are asked to carefully study the map. Remember not to provide any additional information at this point, including the title of the lesson plan or questions associated with the initial piece of evidence. You may want to ask students to begin by writing down facts gathered from the evidence and how they relate to the inquiry question. (You might use Taba questions like, “What did you see? What did you notice?”.) For example, the arrows and the caption on the map can be used to deduce the approximate location of the gold fields. Students also can see from the map that Seattle is a long way away from those gold fields. They most likely will notice that two of the routes start from Seattle. If they closely examine the map they can extract some key information and use it to generate hypotheses. Possible hypotheses (generated from questions such as, “How would you explain . . . ?”.”What might we infer from . . . ?”) might look like this:
- Seattle benefitted from the Klondike Gold Rush because of its location along two of the common routes to the gold fields. Miners probably stayed in Seattle before setting off for the Klondike gold fields and on the way back to their hometowns.
- Seattle benefited from the Klondike Gold Rush because it was closer to the gold fields than other cities in the continental U.S. People who lived in Seattle at that time may have been more likely to go the gold fields because of its location. If so, Seattle residents who found gold may have spent their fortunes in Seattle.
Be sure to ask students what in the evidence makes them think this.