Historical Scene Investigations

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About Historical Scene Investigations

Our cases

Each of the cases below offers students the opportunity to investigate historical questions, using primary sources and other materials. These cases are aimed at students in grades 4-8.

The cases are organized by topic. Click on the topic, then the case file to view the case.

Native Americans and Europeans

Case 1A: How did Native American food, clothing, shelter, and traditions vary in four different regions? (Grade 3)

Case 2A: How did early contact impact both Native Americans and European explorers? (Grade 5)

Case 3A: How did Powhatan Indians and English settlers in Jamestown affect each others' lives? (Grade 5)

Case 4A: How did American policies of assimiliation and removal of Native People change over time?

Case 5A: Who discovered America?

Case 6A: How did the American government try to assimilate Native People into American society?

Colonial Era

Case 1B: What were the values and beliefs of different colonial Americans? (Grade 5)

Case 2B: How does your life compare to that of different people in the colonial era? (Grade 4-5)

Case 3B: How did competition for land lead to the French & Indian War? (Grade 5)

Case 4B: Was life in colonial times a simple progression from child to young adult to adult? Who were the colonists? What were their roles and responsibilities?

Case 5B: How can Connecticut's involvement in the French and Indian War teach us important lessons about our state's history and the study of American history? (Grade 8)

American Revolution & the Constitution

Case 1C: Who is missing from traditional accounts of the American Revolution? (Grade 5)

Case 2C: Would the Revolution have succeeded without Connecticut? (Grade 5)

Case 3C: How does each battle help shape the outcome of the Revolutionary War? (Grade 5)

Case 4C: How did the mutal desires as well as the wide-ranging differences between the colonies affect the writing of a Federal Constitution? (Grade 5)

Case 5C: Who fired the first shot at Lexington Green? (Grade 5, 8)

Case 6C: Who was to blame for the Boston Massacre? (Grades 6 - 8)

Case 7C: Why was the American Revolution not supported by all colonists?

Case 8C: Could the 13 original colonies have won the Revolutionary war without the contributions of patriotic American women and why?

Case 9C: Did the British shoot first at the Battle of Lexington and Concord?

Case 10C: If you were voting in your state in 1787 – 1788 would you have voted to ratify the Constitution as it was written?

Case 11C: What was Connecticut's contribution to the Constitution?

Connecticut

Case 1D: Why is Connecticut called "the Constitution state"? (Grade 4)

Case 2D: Who was the most influential historical figure from Connecticut? (Grade 4-5)

Case 3D: What role did Connecticut play in the women’s suffrage movement?

Case 4D: What are some of the people, places, and important events in Connecticut history? How did they influence Connecticut and/or American history?

Case 5D: How close was Connecticut to becoming the center of rebellion during what many historians call the “Second War of Independence?”

Case 6D: What was Connecticut’s role in shaping aviation technology in the 20th century?

Case 7D: How has the town of West Hartford changed and developed since the 1700s?

Case 8D: The Connecticut Immigration Experience: What was/is it like to be a Connecticut immigrant?

Slavery & the Civil War

Case 1E: What can Connecticut teach us about slavery in the United States? (Grade 8)

Case 2E: How did Africans and African-Americans resist slavery? (Grade 5-7)

Case 3E: What do Connecticut’s historical figures tell us about the attitudes towards slaves and free blacks in Connecticut?

Case 1G: Should John Brown be praised or punished for his attack on Harper's Ferry? (Grade 8)

Case 2G: How did the Civil War affect the lives of teenagers? (Grade 7-8)

Case 3G: Were young Civil War soldiers old enough for war? (Grade 8)

Case 4G: Was Reconstruction successful? (Grade 5, 8)

Industrialization

Case 1F: Why would a farm girl choose to go to work in a factory? (Grade 5-6)

Case 2F: Why would a farm girl go to work in a factory?

Case 3F: How did the rise of industrialization in Connecticut affect the lives of immigrants in the towns of Ivoryton and New Britain?

Westward Expansion

Case 1J: Did westward expansion provide opportunities for freedom and a better life for the Chinese immigrant, Native Americans, and the African-American homesteaders? (Grade 8)

Case 2J: How did the California Gold Rush impact the land and peoples of California? (Grade 8)

Immigration

Case 1H: Were the benefits of immigration worth the hardships that Chinese and Irish immigrants experienced? (Grade 8)

Case 2H: What does the treatment of immmigrants throughout history reveal about American culture? (Grades 5-7)

Great Depression

Case 1I: How did the Great Depression affect families, and what did the government do to help? (Grade 6)

Federal Government and Supreme Court

Case 1L: How does the Executive Branch contribute to the governing of our country?

Case 1K: How are the decisions of 20th century Supreme Court cases reflected in our personal and educational lives today?

 

Our method

Elementary and middle school teachers who participated in our American Voices grant project during the 2009-10 school year worked to develop these cases during our 2010 summer institute at Central Connecticut State University, in consultation with historians from the university and elsewhere.

We were inspired by the HSI project at the College of William & Mary to develop "cases" which would give students the opportunity to act like historians, investigating a question by searching through different types of historical sources and coming to their own conclusions.

The HSI model includes four steps:

  1. Becoming a Detective
  2. Investigating the Evidence
  3. Searching for Clues
  4. Cracking the Case

We expanded on this model in order to create lessons that would include reading other materials (historical fiction and non-fiction) and incorporate other learning activities related to the case.

Several resources are provided courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum, a partner in the American Voices grant.

 

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