Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain? (Age of Exploration Part 2, Primary Source Analysis )

Stop lecturing about history and help your students engage with it! They will use the highest levels of thinking in this challenging, but engaging activity as they figure out for themselves who Christopher Columbus really is: A Hero or a Villain? I had great success with my students and this activity as spontaneous debates erupted in the classroom over which title this controversial character deserves.

This is part two of a three part unit on the Age of Exploration. This section is a primary source analysis where students will use 9 documents to determine if Christopher Columbus deserves the title “Hero” or “Villain.” These engaging documents include primary and secondary sources about the explorer. Students will analyze paintings, illustrations, letters, journal entries, reports, and news articles that share a variety of opinions about Columbus and who he was. Each document is fairly short, the longest being a page, and so are very manageable for students. Depending on the length of your class periods, this activity could take up to two days.

If you have purchased the Aztec primary source set from my Native American Unit, this set is designed the same way and will help your students continue to build on those skills as the year progresses.

A PowerPoint is included to help you be successful as well as a packet for you that includes a key and tips in order to simplify your lesson planning and help you make the most out of this teaching tool. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to see a sample:

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Created: Apr 5, 2016

Updated: Jan 29, 2019


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