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George Washington: Primary Sources

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grade level 5–8 | subject - history and social studies

in connection with the study of U.S. history, specifically the Revolutionary War period and George Washington

time needed

three 45-minute class periods

description

Students analyze several primary and secondary sources from the online exhibition "Every Necessary Care and Attention": George Washington and Medicine  to learn about how George Washington worked to ensure the health and safety of others under his care...troops, as well as family, servants, and slaves living at his Mount Vernon estate. In Class 1, students define what primary and secondary sources are and conduct analyses of primary source paintings and secondary source texts from "Every Necessary Care and Attention."  The analysis activity includes students' consideration of what they already know about Washington, as well as the teacher's clarification of any myths about him. In Class 2, students use a caption text for a book in the exhibition to gain background knowledge and to practice vocabulary work and content comprehension. Afterwards, they work in pairs to explore one of three exhibition sections and to gather data about George Washington's care for the health of those for whom he was responsible. In Class 3, student pairs share their findings with the class and students complete packets covering all three sections of the exhibition. Students summarize and apply their new understanding by answering three questions, giving concrete examples based on the exhibition and the primary and secondary sources included in it to support their answers.


  • learning outcomes
    Students will be able to
    • give examples of what primary and secondary sources are and their purposes.
    • analyze and compare primary sources related to George Washington.
    • summarize and connect prior knowledge about George Washington in expanding their understanding of Washington's role as health promoter.
    • describe different health/medical resources and treatments available to Washington and his contemporaries.
    • construct content knowledge and understanding by applying and integrating prior knowledge and experience to the analysis of secondary and primary sources.
    • apply critical sensitivities such as empathy and skepticism regarding attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in different historical context.
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  • background information

    The "Every Necessary Care and Attention": George Washington and Medicine exhibition examines the promise and limitations of medical knowledge and practices during the lifetime of George Washington in America and England and the role they played in Washington's life. It explores this confluence in the many roles Washington filled (commander-in-chief and president, master of a large estate, family man) and his concern for the health and safety of those for whom he had responsibility in all of these roles. In addition, it explores the medical treatment he received before dying. Teachers are encouraged to preview all sections of the online exhibition.

    This lesson plan also includes class activities that incorporate the "Using Primary Sources" strategies and resources from the Library of Congress website.

    Teachers may refer to the following websites for detailed lists of events related to George Washington, as well as a list of popular myths about him: CloseClose All
  • vocabulary
    The following terms from the "Every Necessary Care and Attention" exhibition may be introduced or incorporated during class activities, as needed:
    • Introduction: speculative, hypotheses, apothecaries, midwives, charlatan, quack, patent medicines
    • At the Battlefront: dysentery, septic, smallpox, latrines, carcasses, manuscript, inoculate/inoculation, quarantine
    • On the Plantation: intestinal parasites, malaria, obstetrics, overseers, dwarfism, senility, bled (as in bloodletting), salves, laxatives, orifice, valet, rabies
    • Home and Hardship: agues, mortality rates, tuberculosis, immune, anthrax, epilepsy, seizures, purging
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  • materials

    Print All Materials

    Handouts:
    • Primary and Secondary Sources (PDF, MS Word);
      Teacher's Primary and Secondary Sources (PDF)
    • Primary Source Analysis (PDF, MS Word)
    • George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (PDF, MS Word);
      Teacher's Primary Source Analysis: George Washington (PDF)
    • George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter (PDF, MS Word);
      Teacher's Primary Source Analysis: George Washington and Family (PDF)
    • Vocabulary Book Caption (PDF, MS Word);
      Teacher's Vocabulary Book Caption (PDF)
    • Pair Work Instructions (PDF, MS Word)
    • Vocabulary Worksheet (PDF, MS Word)
    • How Did George Washington Keep Others Healthy and Safe? (PDF, MS Word);
      Teacher's How Did George Washington Keep Others Healthy and Safe? (PDF)
    • Primary Source Analysis Worksheet (PDF, MS Word)
    • Summary Worksheet: George Washington and Medicine (PDF, MS Word)
    Other materials and set-ups:
    • a display set-up for the class...e.g., interactive whiteboard, computer-connected projector, blackboard, or whiteboard
    • chart paper (optional)
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  • class 1 procedures
    1. Introduce or review what primary and secondary sources are. Display the Primary and Secondary Sources worksheet, and read aloud the excerpt from the "Using Primary Sources," a Library of Congress website. Review the excerpt as a class to facilitate vocabulary and content comprehension.
    2. Have students demonstrate their understanding of primary and secondary sources by asking them to give examples of primary and secondary sources that they know of or have seen. Record their examples on the worksheet and clarify any errors. See suggested discussion guide in Teacher's Primary and Secondary Sources.
    3. Display the images of two paintings, George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and George Washington and Family by Thomas Prichard Rossiter. Ask students whether these paintings are primary or secondary sources, and reinforce their understanding of what a primary source is.
    4. Distribute copies of Primary Source Analysis to all students, and give printouts of George Washington to half of the class and printouts of George Washington and Family to the other half.
    5. Allow students to work in pairs or small groups to examine their assigned primary source and to complete the Primary Source Analysis.
    6. Prepare class displays of two blank Primary Source Analysis to record student analyses of the George Washington and George Washington and Family paintings.
    7. Have students report back their analyses of the two paintings and record them on the displayed Primary Source Analysis. See class discussion guides on Teacher's Primary Source Analysis: George Washington and Teacher's Primary Source Analysis: George Washington and Family.
    8. Tell students these two paintings are from the online exhibition "Every Necessary Care and Attention": George Washington and Medicine.
    9. Display the exhibition's Introduction page, read aloud the main introduction text, and review the text as a class using the following questions:
      • Is this reading a primary or secondary source? Explain your answer.
      • What different roles did Washington fill during his life time?
      • Which of his responsibilities does the reading emphasize?
      • If any, what new understanding about George Washington did you gain from the reading?
    10. Tell students that they will use the "Every Necessary Care and Attention": George Washington and Medicine online exhibition to learn about how Washington took on the responsibility of ensuring the health and safety of many people under his care during his lifetime.
    11. Take an exit poll by having each student write on a slip of paper or an index card one question that they want to ask about how and for whom Washington worked to ensure health and safety.
    12. Class 1 Evaluation: Teachers may use class discussions and the completed handouts, and exit poll for evaluation.
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  • class 2 procedures
    1. Remind the class about the "Every Necessary Care and Attention" online exhibition, and show the image of The Family Physician, and the House Apothecary, a popular book of treatments for the layperson from the exhibition.
    2. Display and hand out copies of Vocabulary: Book Caption. Read aloud the caption for the book image a couple of times and guide students through the two tasks on the worksheet in order to model how to work with text with unfamiliar vocabulary. See class discussion guides in Teacher's Vocabulary: Book Caption.
    3. Tell students that they will practice more of this vocabulary work and more primary source analysis such as what they did in the previous class. Explain that they will use the "Every Necessary Care and Attention" exhibition to learn about how George Washington worked to maintain the health and safety of the many people under his care.
    4. Form student pairs and assign each pair one of the three exhibition sections—"At the Battlefront," "On the Plantation," or "Home and Hardship." Provide students access to the websites or printouts of their assigned exhibition sections, along with a set of the Vocabulary Worksheet, How did George Washington Keep Others Healthy and Safe? and Primary Source Analysis Worksheet handouts.
    5. Display Pair Work Instructions and review the instructions as a class. Have pairs follow the instructions and complete their set of worksheets corresponding to their assigned section of the exhibition.
    6. Class 2 Evaluation: Teachers may use the completed handouts for evaluation.
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  • class 3 procedures
    1. Have student pairs report back on their findings, and ask them to provide specific examples. Allow students to add to their packets as pairs present their findings. See discussion guide in Teacher's How Did George Washington Keep Others Healthy and Safe?
    2. Hand out copies of Summary Worksheet: George Washington and Medicine. Review each question and point out that their answers should include at least one example or piece of evidence that supports each answer they give. Alternately, for younger students, have students create their own portrait of Washington (as a traditional portrait, in a particular historical setting, or more abstractly) that incorporates their deepened understanding of Washington.
    3. Ask students to volunteer some of their answers. Collect all completed worksheets and handouts for evaluation.
    4. Class 3 Evaluations: Teachers may use class discussions and the completed handouts for evaluation.
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  • evaluations and extension activities
    Evaluations:

    In addition to observing and assessing students during class discussions, teachers can evaluate student progress and understanding by reviewing completed handouts and worksheets.

    Extension Activities:
    1. Integrating the Arts: Have students closely examine the paintings of scenes from Washington's life..."Washington Taking Command of the American Army," "Washington the Planter," "The Washington Family," and "G. Washington in His Last Illness attended by Docrs. Craik and Brown." Some examples of analysis questions are:
      • Which of his roles are represented by these paintings? How do you know?
      • What do you think the painter of each is trying to say about Washington by the way he is portrayed?
      • What are some other scenes from his life that could have been painted?
      • How do paintings of a president differ from the photographs we are accustomed to seeing of presidents nowadays?
    2. Integrating the Arts: Have students in groups plan and stage tableaux where they arrange themselves in scenes that demonstrate their understanding through relationship to each other, posture, and facial expressions. The tableaux include the different settings in which Washington functioned...army, government, estate, family. One student can portray Washington moving from setting to setting, or each group can have its own Washington.
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  • National Education Standards

    Common Core State Standards: English Language Arts

    Reading for Informational Text
    • Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
    • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text
    • Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study
    Writing Standards
    • Write routinely over shorter time frames for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences
    Speaking and Listening Standards
    • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly
    Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
    • Key Ideas and Details: cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources; determine the central ideas of information of a primary or secondary source.
    • Craft and Structure: determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: integrate visual information with other information in print and digital texts
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  • NCSS Curriculum Standards for social studies
    Time, Continuity, and Change
    • Identify and use processes important to reconstructing and reinterpreting the past, such as using a variety of sources, providing, validating, and weighing evidence for claims, checking credibility of sources, and searching for causality
    • Develop critical sensitivities such as empathy and skepticism regarding attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in different historical contexts
    Science, Technology, and Society
    • Examine and describe the influence of culture on scientific and technological choices and advancement, such as in transportation, medicine, and warfare
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