Learning Objectives: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the criteria used to evaluate historical accounts. Students will demonstrate knowledge of structuring and supporting an effective argument.
Materials/Resources: ”Circumstances Surrounding Raoul Wallenberg’’s Assignment in Budapest,” ”The Soviet Arrest on Raoul Wallenberg,” and ”Possible Reasons for the Arrest,” by Sven Grundberg, available from www.raoulwallenberg.net, note: students should NOT read Grundberg’s ”Conclusion” before writing their essays, articles from the National Enquirer or other tabloid that publishes stories of questionable veracity, articles from a more reputable newspaper, copy of ”Common Sense” pamphlet by Thomas Paine, available at www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/singlehtml.htm, an account of the Revolutionary War from the British perspective, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/rebels_redcoats_01.shtml
Prerequisites: Students will have read all reading materials listed in the resources section above for homework.
Teaching Procedure: Teacher will ask students what questions arose as they were reading the tabloid article.
Teacher will ask students to contrast the tabloid article with the article from the reputable newspaper.
Teacher will ask students to generate a list of qualities that make an article believable based on their comparison of the two articles.
Teacher will record the list on the board.
Teacher will ask students to contrast the purpose and perspective of the authors of ”Common Sense” and the BBC account of the Revolutionary War and to discuss how readers know the purpose and perspective of the authors.
Teacher will note that to evaluate the strength of historical accounts, readers should consider the credibility of the author, the plausibility of the account in light of background knowledge, the author’s purpose in writing and the author’s perspective.
Teachers will ask students to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of Grundberg’s hypotheses accounting for Wallenberg’s arrest and to describe his purpose and perspective.
Teacher will ask each student to write a persuasive essay supporting one of Grundberg’s hypotheses accounting for Wallenberg’s arrest.
Assessment: Successful essays will include well-reasoned arguments in favor of the chosen hypotheses and will cite relevant evidence. Successful essays will also clearly explain why the student chose the particular hypothesis and will briefly address the strengths and weaknesses of the other hypotheses.
Lesson plan created by Sharlee DiMenichi, an award-winning freelance journalist whose work has appeared in national and regional newspapers and magazines. She is currently working on a book of curricular materials on Holocaust rescuers. DiMenichi holds an M. S. in journalism from Columbia University, a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Education from Juniata College.