This lesson examines several primary resources related to the Boston Massacre; these images represent various emotional responses from the people of Boston in 1770.
Class Topic: The Boston Massacre
Goals: Students should be able to use the power of observation and critical thinking skills to discern the emotional tension leading up to and after the Boston Massacre through the analysis of primary and secondary sources. This series of lessons will also introduce the term “propaganda” to students and encourage them to ask, “Who was this made for?” and “why?” Through conversation, writing, and mapping activities, students should have multiple perspectives of this event as well as understand the power of an image.
In the build up to the Revolutionary War, the Boston Massacre was perhaps the pivotal moment, the tipping point. This incident clearly illustrates the tension and violence between the British government and its colonies. Using first hand accounts, maps, as well as images from the MFA, this lesson will explore the documentation of this event and the impact of this documentation on the citizens of Boston. Several maps from this time period will help ground third graders in order to make connections to their city of Boston today to Boston 1770. Once the scene is set, students will compare the different accounts of the incident on March 5, through an auditory exercise. This lesson will also introduce the term "propaganda" to students as we look at the engravings that depict March 5, 1770 as well as research the artists responsible for these images and their motivation for their illustrations. Through the engravings of Henry Pelham and Paul Revere, students will observe how different accounts of the incident were exaggerated; yet other pieces of the story have changed. This lesson will ask students to question historical accounts for their accuracy as well as consider all sides of a story; a crucial skill as they study history.
The complexity of this event, as well as the amount of digital resources available, will foster rich conversation in the classroom; therefore, I recommend that the lesson be divided over 2 or even 3 sessions depending on the amount of students you have and ability to have full group conversations. This lesson was designed for third graders at The Advent School. These students will use one projector to look at images so I encourage making individual copies or laptops to look closer. I would chunk the lessons into slides 1-3 to set the scene of the Boston Massacre, then 4 (the auditory exercise) and then 5-9 (Revere and Pehlam’s work) for the last lesson. The activities within the lesson slides can be adapted from full group conversations to writing or mapping activities depending on the group. Additional activities are listed below. Each slide has a lot of questions with the hopes that students can help guide the discussion. Please use what would be most helpful in your classroom.
Follow up activities:
Analyze other images of Boston Massacre using site http://www.masshist.org/features/massacre/comparison
Compare Revere and Pehlam’s work and record similarities and differences on a T chart
Writing Activity or Class Debate: Compare Revere’s diagram to his engraving, which piece is more powerful and why? Do the images tell different stories?
Write a diary entry or letter about how the engraving by Paul Revere or Pelham made you feel as a Bostonian
Write a diary entry or letter about how the engraving by Paul Revere or Pelham made you feel as a British Soldier