History Experience Lesson 1: Introductory Lesson

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This two–day lesson, driven by a PowerPoint slide presentation, introduces the History Experience.

On day one, students first learn that in the History Experience they will act as historians. They discuss what historians do. Then they are shown a slide of Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre and answer document-based questions about it. Finally, they learn background information about what led to the Boston Massacre.

On day two, students briefly review what they have learned. Then in small groups, they are given snippets of testimony from the Boston Massacre trials, answer questions related to the testimony, and critique the accuracy of Revere’s engraving. Finally, they learn about the Boston Massacre trials and hold a discussion about the engraving and about what historians do.


Students will be able to:

  1. Analyze a primary source for its content and accuracy.
  2. Use eyewitness testimony to evaluate a pictorial primary source that claims to be a representation of the Boston Massacre.
  3. Explain what historians do.

Standards Addressed

California History Social Science Standard 8.1

Students understand the major events preceding the founding of the nation and relate their significance to the development of American constitutional democracy. (2) Analyze the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence, with an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights (e.g., key phrases such as “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”).

California’s Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded
language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with
other information in print and digital texts.

Preparation and Materials

PowerPoint Teacher Guide — PDF File.
You will need to print this out as it includes the instructions for the lesson.

PowerPoint: History Experience Lesson 1 — Download PowerPoint.
Since the lesson is driven by a PowerPoint slide show, you will need a computer, projector, and screen to show the slide show.

Handout 1A: Observation Handout — 1 per student.

Handout 1B: Sworn Statements — There are three separate sworn statements, labeled Group A, Group B, and Group C. Make enough copies of each for a third of the class.

Handout 1C: Questions — There are three separate sets of questions, labeled Group A, Group B, and Group C. Make enough copies of each for a third of the class.

(Optional) Handout 1D: The Boston Massacre — 1 per student.
This is a reading on the Boston Massacre, which the teacher can use for background information and can even distribute after lesson to students who want to learn more about the event.


Day One

Since the lesson is driven by a PowerPoint slide show all instructions for the activities are on the PowerPoint Teacher Guide.

  • Introduction and Focus Discussion
  • Activity: Initial Inspection of ‘The Bloody Massacre
  • Debriefing the ‘The Bloody Massacre’

Day Two

Since the lesson is driven by a PowerPoint slide show all instructions for the activities are on the PowerPoint Teacher Guide.

  • Focus Discussion
  • Activity: How Accurate Is This Picture?
  • Debriefing the Boston Massacre Trials

History Experience Planner

The History Experience Planner is a step-by-step guide that leads students through the planning, research, completion, and reflection/evaluation of their project. The planner was designed so that students can independently review what they learned in class and apply it to produce their projects. The planner will become a valuable resource for you in helping your students and successfully complete their research projects.

Assign students to review the History Experience Planner pages 1 -5, decide whether their project is an individual or group project, and assign Log 1: Letter to Parents as homework. The letter explains the History Experience and students need to ask parents to read and sign the letter.