Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What Is History?

Chet Geering


Students will be able to process a variety of information on the reasons for different interpretations of history.


The student understands how ideas and beliefs, decisions, and chance events have been used in the process of writing and interpreting history.


-WORLD HISTORY THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001. (or comparable text)
-Chalkboard/Chalk or Dry Erase Board/ Dry Erase Markers
-Pencil or pen
- Access to copy machine
- Teacher notes (enclosed)
- A variety of everyday materials from class such as; stapler, scissors, penny, ect.
- Dry erase board and markers.


1. Read text Chapter 1 (or appropriate chapter).
2. Look through the procedure listing and make sure you are familiar with the terms.
3. Make a copy of the rubric (enclosed) for each student in class.


1. Have students read chapter 1 in text (or comparable chapter from another text) the night before the lesson.
2. Put students into groups of four or five students.
3. Give each group three or four artifacts from class, such as a stapler, scissors, penny, etc.
4. Ask students to role play as if they were explorers from another world or country. They should create alternate definitions and uses for the materials presented to them by the teacher.
5. The alternate definitions should be discussed within the group and when a consensus has been reached, the results should be recorded in writing by the group.
6. Once all of the -artifacts- have been given alternate definitions and/or uses, trade with another group.
7. This should continue until each group has had an opportunity to see all of the -artifacts-.
8. List the real names for the “artifacts- on the board.
9. Ask each group what definition or alternate use they created for each -artifact-.
10. Once #8 is completed, the students should realize that a lot of history depends entirely on interpretation.
11. Review with the students the definition of history and why it is important.
12. Put students' responses on the board.
13. Discuss the responses with the students.
14. Ask students, -Who writes the history you read?-
15. Answers should include the following: the powerful nations of the world, the winners of wars, the educated elite in society, and other varied responses.
16. Ask students, -How do the ideas, beliefs and decisions of the people in #14 influence history?-
17. Put the students' responses on the board.
18. Have students define the word “bias”. (Use the glossary of the text.)
19. Put the definition on the board.
20. Discuss the material on the board.
21. Ask students to write a brief opinion essay on the following topic: -What is history?-
22. Give students a copy of the rubric (enclosed) so they know what the teacher expects. (See attached file.)
23. Teacher evaluates the essay using the rubric.


1. Students will be graded on their answers to the essay question. (See rubric in attached file.)
2. The teacher can also informally evaluate the students by encouraging class participation and discussion by as many students as possible.

Attached Files

A rubric to grade essay question.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.