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Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

An Exploration into Maine's History

Grade Level: 3-5 Content Area: Social Studies
This investigation was designed to utilize the resources of the Maine Memory Network and the Library of Congress. Students will have the opportunity to create their own albums from MMN, research their local history, and that of the state of Maine. This is a progressive approach that begins with an investigation into Yarmouth, Maine’s history, however, it could easily be adapted for any home town. Part of the exploration includes suggested visits to the local historical society and discussions with the school historian. The creative writing piece calls for students to become someone who lived in their town 100 years ago; they find the information they need be research on MMN and the Library of Congress and then write and share their stories. Along each step of the way, students created, saved, and shared albums of materials related to their research and work on MMN. The second part of this lesson is designed to coincide with the study of the history of the state of Maine and of the United States.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Integration of Longfellow's Poetry into American Studies

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
We explored Longfellow's ability to express universality of human emotions/experiences while also looking at the patterns he articulated in history that are applicable well beyond his era. We attempted to link a number of Longfellow's poems with different eras in U.S. History and accompanying literature, so that the poems complemented the various units. With each poem, we want to explore the question: What is American identity?

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & Harriet Beecher Stowe

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies
As a graduate of Bowdoin College and a longtime resident of Brunswick, I have a distinct interest in Longfellow. Yet the history of Brunswick includes other famous writers as well, including Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although they did not reside in Brunswick contemporaneously, and Longfellow was already world-renowned before Stowe began her literary career, did these two notables have any interaction? More particularly, did Longfellow have any opinion of Stowe's work? If so, what was it?

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: The Village Blacksmith - The Reality of a Poem

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
"The Village Blacksmith" was a much celebrated poem. Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poem appeared to celebrate the work ethic and mannerisms of a working man, the icon of every rural community, the Blacksmith. However, what was the poem really saying?

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: The Elms - Stephen Longfellow's Gorham Farm

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
On April 3, 1761 Stephen Longfellow II signed the deed for the first 100 acre purchase of land that he would own in Gorham, Maine. His son Stephen III (Judge Longfellow) would build a home on that property which still stands to this day. Judge Longfellow would become one of the most prominent citizens in Gorham’s history and one of the earliest influences on his grandson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's work as a poet. This exhibit examines why the Longfellows arrived in Gorham, Judge Longfellow's role in the history of the town, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's vacations in the country which may have influenced his greatest work, and the remains of the Longfellow estate still standing in Gorham today.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: The American Wilderness? How 19th Century American Artists Viewed the Separation Of Civilization and Nature

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies, Visual & Performing Arts
When European settlers began coming to the wilderness of North America, they did not have a vision that included changing their lifestyle. The plan was to set up self-contained communities where their version of European life could be lived. In the introduction to The Crucible, Arthur Miller even goes as far as saying that the Puritans believed the American forest to be the last stronghold of Satan on this Earth. When Roger Chillingworth shows up in The Scarlet Letter's second chapter, he is welcomed away from life with "the heathen folk" and into "a land where iniquity is searched out, and punished in the sight of rulers and people." In fact, as history's proven, they believed that the continent could be changed to accommodate their interests. Whether their plans were enacted in the name of God, the King, or commerce and economics, the changes always included – and still do to this day - the taming of the geographic, human, and animal environments that were here beforehand. It seems that this has always been an issue that polarizes people. Some believe that the landscape should be left intact as much as possible while others believe that the world will inevitably move on in the name of progress for the benefit of mankind. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby – a book which many feel is one of the best portrayals of our American reality - the narrator, Nick Carraway, looks upon this progress with cynicism when he ends his narrative by pondering the transformation of "the fresh green breast of a new world" that the initial settlers found on the shores of the continent into a modern society that unsettlingly reminds him of something out of a "night scene by El Greco." Philosophically, the notions of progress, civilization, and scientific advancement are not only entirely subjective, but also rest upon the belief that things are not acceptable as they are. Europeans came here hoping for a better life, and it doesn't seem like we've stopped looking. Again, to quote Fitzgerald, it's the elusive green light and the "orgiastic future" that we've always hoped to find. Our problem has always been our stoic belief system. We cannot seem to find peace in the world either as we've found it or as someone else may have envisioned it. As an example, in Miller's The Crucible, his Judge Danforth says that: "You're either for this court or against this court." He will not allow for alternative perspectives. George W. Bush, in 2002, said that: "You're either for us or against us. There is no middle ground in the war on terror." The frontier -- be it a wilderness of physical, religious, or political nature -- has always frightened Americans. As it's portrayed in the following bits of literature and artwork, the frontier is a doomed place waiting for white, cultured, Europeans to "fix" it. Anything outside of their society is not just different, but unacceptable. The lesson plan included will introduce a few examples of 19th century portrayal of the American forest as a wilderness that people feel needs to be hesitantly looked upon. Fortunately, though, the forest seems to turn no one away. Nature likes all of its creatures, whether or not the favor is returned. While I am not providing actual activities and daily plans, the following information can serve as a rather detailed explanation of things which can combine in any fashion you'd like as a group of lessons.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow and Dickens - The Story of a Trans-Atlantic Friendship

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
What if you don't teach American Studies but you want to connect to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in meaningful ways? One important connection is Henry's friendship with Charles Dickens. There are many great resources about Dickens and if you teach his novels, you probably already know his biography and the chronology of his works. No listing for his association with Henry appears on most websites and few references will be found in texts. However, journals and diary entries and especially letters reveal a friendship that allowed their mutual respect to influence Henry's work.

Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

Sporting Maine

Grade Level: 3-5 Content Area: Health Education & Physical Education, Social Studies
This lesson plan will introduce students to myriad communities in Maine, past and present, through the universal lens of sports and group activities. Students will explore and understand the history of many of Maine’s recreational pastimes, what makes Maine the ideal location for some outdoor sports, and how communities have come together through team activities throughout Maine’s history.

Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

Maine Statehood and the Missouri Compromise

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies
Using primary sources, students will explore the arguments for and against Maine statehood and the Missouri Compromise, and the far-reaching implications of Maine statehood and the Missouri Compromise such as the preservation and spread of slavery in the United States. Students will gather evidence and arguments to debate the statement: The Missouri Compromise was deeply flawed and ultimately did more harm to the Union than good.

Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

Maine in the News: World War I Newspaper Project

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies
This lesson plan is designed to introduce students to the important role that Maine played in World War I. Students will act as investigators in order to learn about the time period as well as the active role that Maine took on.

Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

Maine Statehood

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies
Maine's quest for statehood began in the years immediately following the American Revolution. Though the state of Massachusetts consented to the separation in 1819 and Maine would ultimately achieve statehood in 1820, Maine’s split from Massachusetts was not without controversy and was not universally supported by people living in Maine. Using primary sources, students will explore the arguments for and against Maine statehood. Students will gather evidence and arguments to debate the statement: It is in the best interests of the people of Maine for Maine to become its own state.

Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport"

Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Longfellow's poem "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" opens up the issue of the earliest history of the Jews in America, and the significant roles they played as businessmen and later benefactors to the greater community. The history of the building itself is notable in terms of early American architecture, its having been designed, apparently gratis, by the most noted architect of the day. Furthermore, the poem traces the history of Newport as kind of a microcosm of New England commercial cities before the industrialization boom. For almost any age student the poem could be used to open up interest in local cemeteries, which are almost always a wealth of curiousities and history. Longfellow and his friends enjoyed exploring cemeteries, and today our little local cemeteries can be used to teach little local histories and parts of the big picture as well. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited the Jewish cemetery in Newport, RI on July 9, 1852. His popular poem about the site, published two years later, was certainly a sympathetic portrayal of the place and its people. In addition to Victorian romantic musings about the "Hebrews in their graves," Longfellow includes in this poem references to the historic persecution of the Jews, as well as very specific references to their religious practices. Since the cemetery and the nearby synagogue were restored and protected with an infusion of funding just a couple years after Longfellow's visit, and later a congregation again assembled, his gloomy predictions about the place proved false (never mind the conclusion of the poem, "And the dead nations never rise again!"). Nevertheless, it is a fascinating poem, and an interesting window into the history of the nation's oldest extant synagogue.