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Colonial House Picture of the colony
Meet the Colonists Behind the Scenes Interactive History Media Gallery
For Teachers
Lesson Plan: Fearless and Faithful
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Introductory Activity:
1) Ask your students, "In the 17th century, why did some Europeans choose to come to North America to establish colonies? What made these early colonists come to the "New World?" (Accept all answers. If students need assistance, ask, "Why did the Pilgrims come to the New World? What were they hoping to find?") Tell your students that the "Pilgrims" of Plymouth colony came to North America in search of religious freedom. Ask your students if all early colonists came to the New World seeking religious freedom. (Students should answer, "no.") Ask your students what other reasons brought 17th-century colonists to the New World.


(Student answers should include that colonists came to the New World for economic opportunities, to search for gold and silver, to escape poverty in England, to own land, or to find adventure.)

2) Ask your students if they think the life of a 17th-century colonist was an easy life. Why or why not? (Student answers will vary.) Ask your students how life in 17th-century New England would be different from life in 21st century America. (Student answers will vary.) Ask your students if they think they would like to live as a 17th-century colonist. (Student answers will vary.) Explain to your students that they will now have an opportunity to determine their suitability for life in a 17th-century colony.

3) Ask your students to log on to the "Would You Have Survived on the Colony?" Quiz. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to honestly answer the questions on the quiz, and determine how well they would fare in a 17th-century colony. Allow students ten minutes or so to complete the quiz.

4) Ask your students if they would like to live in the 17th century, based on the information in the quiz. Why or why not? (Student answers will vary.) Take a poll and ask your students who was rated as a) a Lover of Luxury, b) Comfortably Contemporary, c) an Imminent Immigrant, or d) a Colossal Colonist. Ask students what they think they would find most difficult about living in the 17th century. (Student answers will vary.)

5) Ask your students if, based on the quiz and their prior knowledge, they would qualify the life of a 17th-century colonist as "safe" or "dangerous" based on 21st-century standards. Why? (Student answers will vary.)

6) Tell you students that in this lesson, they will be examining one of the most dangerous and unpleasant aspects of a 17th-century colonist's life: their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from England to the New World.

Learning Activity:
1) Distribute the "Fantastic Voyage" worksheet to your students. Divide your students into five groups: Ships, Supplies, Social Life, Dangers, and Miscellaneous. Explain to each group that in the following activity, they will be responsible for tracking information about their assigned topic. They should record information about their assigned topic in the appropriate space on their worksheet.

2) Ask students to log on to the COLONIAL HOUSE "Fantastic Voyage" Activity at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/colonialhouse/history/voyage.html. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking your students to complete the activity, and record information -- a minimum of three distinct facts -- about their assigned topic on the worksheet. Additionally, students should record what their evaluation is upon reaching the New World. Allow your students sufficient time to complete the activity and record the appropriate information on their worksheets.

3) Check for comprehension, and ask each group to orally present the facts about their assigned topic to the rest of the class. Students should record the information presented from each group on their "Fantastic Voyage" worksheet.

4) Ask your students how well they fared while serving as Governor of the new colony. How good -- or bad -- was the evaluation that they received at the end of their journey? (Student answers will vary.) Ask students what was difficult about the choices they had to make while guiding the ship across the Atlantic. (Student answers will vary.) Ask students what they would do differently if they took the journey again. (Student answers will vary.)

5) Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to complete the "Fantastic Voyage" activity again, and to record their new evaluation on the worksheet in the space provided. Allow students time to complete the activity again.

6) Ask your students how well they fared on their second attempt to bring colonists to the New World. (Student answers will vary.) Did their evaluation improve? Why or why not? What was difficult about making choices on their journey the second time? (Student answers will vary.)

7) As a class, complete the "Fantastic Voyage" activity a third time. Solicit student input on each question, and vote as a class on each answer. What is the students' rationale for each answer? How does the primary source information which precedes each question inform their decision making? How do you fare as a class?

8) To review, ask students what sort of challenges 17th-century colonists had to deal with during their journeys to the New World. (Student answers will vary but should include: disease, lack of space or comfort, 10-12 week voyages, storms, poor diets, starvation, etc.) Remind students that most early colonists chose to endure these conditions. Ask your students to review reasons why colonists left Europe and came to the New World. (Student answers will vary but should include: seeking religious freedom, economic opportunities, wealth from gold or silver, land ownership, etc.)

9) Tell your students that they will now investigate a first-hand account of a colonist's voyage to the New World. John Josselyn was an English colonist who made two voyages to the New World, in 1638 and 1663. He kept a journal of each trip, and these journals were published as a book during the 1670s. The book is now available online.

10) Divide your students into nine groups. Assign each group a page number from 5 to 13. Log on to the American Journeys Web site at http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cgi-bin/
docviewer.exe?CISOROOT=/aj&CISOPTR=9153
. On the right side of the screen, click on the link which reads "An Account of Two Voyages to New England." Then, scroll down and click on the link which reads "The First Voyage." Scroll down and you should see links to the individually numbered pages.

11) Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking each student group to read its assigned page of John Josselyn's journal and write a brief paragraph summarizing what happened on the page in the space allotted on their "Fantastic Voyage" worksheet. Caution your students that the "s"s in the text look more like "f'"s. Allow students fifteen to twenty minutes to complete this task. Please note: depending on your students' grade level and reading ability, you may want to modify this activity and complete it as a group. Alternately, you may wish to print out the necessary pages of John Josselyn's diary and ask students to read the pages and write their summaries as homework.

12) Ask each student group to read their summary paragraph aloud. Ask your students if John Josselyn's voyage as described in his journal is similar to their own journey in the "Fantastic Voyage" activity. Why or why not? (Students should say that Josselyn's journey was similar to their own. As a matter of fact, Josselyn is quoted in the "Fantastic Voyage" online activity.)

13) Ask your students what descriptive words they would use to describe 17th-century colonists. Ask students to support their word choices with information from the "Fantastic Voyage" activity or John Josselyn's journals.

Culminating Activity/Assessment:
1) Tell your students that they will be assuming the role of a 17th-century colonist who has recently made the journey to the New World. Distribute the "Letter from the New World" handout to each student. Ask students to create a character and decide their colonist's name, age, and reason for emigrating to the New World.

2) Explain to students that they will be writing either a letter from the colonist to a friend back in England, or a journal entry written by the colonist. The letter or diary entry should focus on the colonist's journey to the New World. In the letter or diary entry, the students should address elements of the ship, supplies, social life, and dangers faced during the voyage. Students should base their writing on the information from the "Fantastic Voyage" activity and John Josselyn's first-hand account of a 17th-century Atlantic crossing.

3) To assess student work during the lesson, collect the "Fantastic Voyage" worksheet, as well as the "Letter from the New World" handout.

Cross-Curricular Extensions:
SOCIAL STUDIES
Investigate additional primary source documents focused on journeys to America at http://content.wisconsinhistory.org. How are other documents from other time periods similar to John Josselyn's journal? How are they different?

Explore the design of colonial ships from the early 17th century. How and where were they built? How fast did they travel? What were the different features of 17th-century ships?

MATH
On a map or globe, measure the distance from Bristol, England to Boston, Massachusetts. How far is it? If a journey from England took ten to twelve weeks, how fast did ships travel? Substantiate your claims by clearly describing your mathematical reasoning.

Develop additional word problems based on traveling to the New World in the 17th century.

SCIENCE
Investigate diseases such as scurvy, smallpox, and influenza. What are the symptoms of these diseases? What causes them? How prevalent are they in the 21st century? Report your findings to the rest of your class.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Explain to your students that the participants in the "hands-on history" TV series COLONIAL HOUSE agreed to live for over four months under the conditions of New England colonists in 1628. CUE Episode 2 of COLONIAL HOUSE, "Harsh Reality," to the point where you see Governor Wyers in the empty field with a hoe, and you hear the narrator say, "Governor Wyers has decided to grow maize, or Indian corn, knowing that in the in the 17th century it was a valuable crop for trade." Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to determine why the colonists' motivation for working in the fields might have been greater in 1628. PLAY the clip until you see Don Heinz, in a white shirt and red pants, hoeing in the field, and you hear Governor Wyers say, "You need to be able to say, 'No, everybody's going to the field today.'" STOP the tape. Check for student comprehension, and ask your students why the colonists' motivation for working in the fields might have been greater in 1628. (In 1628, they would have faced the very real possibility of starvation.)

Ask your students to write two brief journal entries. The first journal entry should be for one of the 21st century COLONIAL HOUSE participants describing how they feel about spending their days in the fields planting corn. Students should base their entries on the feelings and attitudes the colonists present in the video. The second journal entry should be from the perspective of an actual 17th century colonist who has spent the day in the fields planting corn. How do the perspectives differ? How can students adapt their writing voice and tone to reflect the ideas and opinions of the two different colonists?


Community Connections:
  • Invite a local genealogist into your classroom to discuss strategies for tracing family history. Can ancestors be traced back to the 17th century? How?

  • Invite recent immigrants to your area into your classroom. Why did they come to the United States? What was their journey to the United States like?

  • Visit your local historical society or history museum to investigate the early Native and European populations in your area.

Online Resources:
Would You Have Survived on the Colony?
This interactivity is part of the COLONIAL HOUSE Web site, and it enables users to assess their suitability for life in a 17th-century New England colony.

Fantastic Voyage
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/colonialhouse/history/voyage.html
This interactivity, also part of the COLONIAL HOUSE Web site, appoints the user Governor of a New England colony in 1629. The Governor must make a series of decisions to select colonists and a ship, and safely guide them across the sea.

American Journeys: "An Account of Two Voyages to New England" by John Josselyn http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cgi-bin/docviewer.exe?CISOROOT=/aj&CISOPTR=9153
American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration. Funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services and by private donors, American Journeys is a collaborative project of the Wisconsin Historical Society and National History Day.


About the Author:
Christopher W. Czajka is an Educational Consultant for COLONIAL HOUSE, and served as a Historical Consultant on Thirteen/WNET's FRONTIER HOUSE. He is also the Associate Director of the National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI), an educational initiative that teaches educators across the country strategies for incorporating PBS programming, instructional media, and emerging technologies into the classroom. To learn more about NTTI, and to explore more media-rich lessons, visit NTTI Online (www.thirteen.org/edonline/ntti).


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