Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Reflect on how you teach the Virginia Company's Jamestown settlement in your classroom. How would you teach it differently with primary sources?
Now consider these lesson ideas contributed by Primary Sources teachers:
To prepare for the lesson, I gave students selected readings for homework. The readings dealt with immediate issues for the settlers, such as their relations with the Native Americans, "starving times," and supplies. It made for a pleasant first day of class to hear them groan when they got all the readings, which included:
I divided the students into pairs. Half of the pairs were the settlers, and the other half were representatives of the Virginia Company. Each pair discussed the readings and prepared for a summit on Virginia. They had to write down what they wanted to get from the other side and what they were willing to give up.
For the summit, each pair of settlers was grouped with a pair of Virginia Company representatives, so there were several summits occurring at the same time. As each group held their summit, their task was to write down the issues they discussed and what they decided in the end.
There were a variety of results. Some groups were too peaceable and gave up too much; some groups argued and would not compromise enough; and others reached fair agreements. Overall, the students were able to get an understanding of some of the difficulties and economic issues that the Virginia Company settlers faced.
This lesson focused on the early experiences of the Virginia Colony settlers, particularly their relationship with the Native Americans. Before the lesson, students read relevant documents, including:
Next, we discussed the relationship between the Virginia colonists and the Native Americans. I wanted to dispel the widely held belief that the Europeans landed on this continent and immediately began to dominate the Native Americans. The readings were intended to show that the colonists were not prepared for what they would be up against in Virginia and that the Native Americans were actually the more powerful force, giving the new colonists the information they would need to survive.
Next, I began a discussion about the materials that were traded between the Native Americans and the settlers initially, and how the traded materials changed over time. This change of materials was an indication of the change of power between the Native Americans and the colonists in Virginia. Eventually, the colonists became more powerful.
Although Professor Maier does not discuss the introduction of slaves into the Jamestown colony, the slaves' relationship to the colonists and to indentured servants is an interesting historical development.
In 1619, just as tobacco was first successfully sold and exported, 20 African men were brought to Jamestown, purchased as indentured servants from a passing Dutch ship. The Africans were paid for with food. At the same time, 90 English women were purchased with 120 pounds of tobacco apiece and sold to the colonists as wives. Even though the Africans were labeled "indentured servants," race would soon play a major role in their new lives.
Have the class explore the resources and read journals of indentured servants in Jamestown at the Virtual Jamestown Web site:
Questions for class discussion:
Next, divide the class into four groups:
Have each group meet separately to discuss the following points:
Finally, bring the class together to compare and debate these points as a whole. Members of each group can take turns speaking, or each group can assign a representative for the debate.