Who Fired the Shot Heard Around The World?History is full of mystery. That is the joy of Historical Studies is that we don't always know what happened with great certainty What we do know comes from the first hand accounts of those who witnessed history.
April 19th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington. This pivotal moment in American History known as the "Shot Heard Around The World" is often times seen as the first major battle of the American Revolution.
This is also a great event to introduce students to Historical Thinking by analyzing various primary sources from eyewitnesses of this particular event.
I always start this lesson with the following School House Rocks Video. You can never go wrong with some School House Rock.
After students have watched the video, we watch a Battle simulation from RevolutionaryWarAnimated: Battle of Lexington & Concord.
I tell students that that their job today is to find out a great mystery. Who fired the first shot of the Revolution? Was it the Colonists or the British Red Coats? I lead students into a discussion on how we can find out what happened and introduce Primary Sources.
HSI Historical Scene Investigation has several excellent examples of Primary Source Material for students to use from the Battle of Lexington.
My greatest challenge when working with Primary Sources, especially from this time period, is the language difficulty my student have. I have a diverse level of readers and learners and sometimes the text can be a challenge. Here are some strategies that I've used.
The Print Option:I print out the Documents and highlight key words/phrases for my students.
The Digital Option-Using Diigo to annotate, highlight Websites:Since my school is a One to One Laptop School where each student has a laptop, I have started to use the tools in Diigo to help digitize these primary sources online.
I am a huge fan of Diigo, and it is my primary bookmarking tool that I use. I also like Diigo because it is possible for me to highlight and annotate websites with sticky notes. I can save these annotations and share these links to my students so they can access these annotations.
Diigo is a free resource and I would definitely check them out as a way to help model analyzing Primary Source reading skills to students.
Here is an example of a website that is annotated with Highlights and floating stickies to help focus student's reading from an account from the Boston Massacre: Anonymous Account of the Boston Massacre.
What is great about this link, is I can share this to students who need help with the document as a way of differentiation.
Usually the first time we analyze a document I will share this with all my students, but latter in the year I can differentiate with my students on who needs more or less support with the documents.
Click the links for tutorials on getting started using the Highlight and StickyNote feature in Diigo.
After students have looked at various Primary Sources, I have student vote on who they thought was responsible using tools such as a Google Doc or Socrative
What is great about this lesson, is that there really is no right or wrong answer. It is a good opotrunity to introduce my students to using Historical evidence to support their claims.
Other Primary Source Materials on the Battle of Lexington
- Massachusetts State Papers via DocsTeach
- Deposition of Captain John Barker via DocsTeach
- Letter from Joseph Warren to Colony Agent Benjamin Franklin
- Paul Rever's Account of His Midnight Ride to Lexington
- Minute Man National Historical Park Primary Sources
What are ways you introduce Primary Source Materials to students? How do you teach about the Battle of Lexington and Concord? I would love to read your comments.