The design of the American Imaginings of the Caribbean Through 1898 Political Cartoons lesson plan is underway. Through the examination of political cartoons as primary resources, this lesson introduces students to American perceptions of the Caribbean during a new phase of territorial expansionism at the turn of the 20th century. I have chosen to build a simple site using WP Pages, which will include the following tabbed sections: Overview, Objectives & Materials, Study Guide, Cartoon Gallery, Additional Sources. The lesson will display a collection of American political cartoons depicting the Spanish-American War, primary readings created on around the same period that will help decode the cartoons, as well as secondary readings to acquire techniques for working with cartoons as primary sources and to further understand the historical context.
After conversations with course instructors and peers, and through our secondary readings and viewings of former students’ projects, I am positive about focusing on creating a lesson plan that approaches the teaching of historical thinking through the application of think-aloud strategies and zoom-in inquiries. Students who participate in this lesson will get to see their teachers’ thinking process as they figure out complex primary sources, and to begin grasping the how do we know what we know about the past question. The reflexive nature of smaller scale projects, such as Sleeter’s Looking Beyond Ghost Stories, provides with inspiration to provide instructors with active teaching and learning exercises for them to think out loud about their own process of thinking about history, which in turn will help them transmit this skill to their own students. Digital history education projects, like Amboyna, Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, and World History Commons, afford me with some great insights on deconstructive approaches to complex primary sources. These examples encourage me to create scaffolding activities that facilitate the acquisition of strategic language for reading and decoding 1898 political cartoons.
The next steps are to continue populating the webpages with secondary sources, and create the slide presentation for the Zoom-In Inquiry exercise. Once the presentation is completed (likely with Google Slides), I will write up instructions for creating this product, so that teachers and students can try it themselves.