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Lesson Plan

Using Pictures to Build Schema for Social Studies Content

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Maureen Martin

Worcester, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Image Analysis

Session 2: Culminating Activity

Session 3: Oral Presentations/Wrap-Up


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Use a variety of comprehension strategies to determine how an engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere is similar to or different from other images depicting the event

  • Visually depict their interpretations of the Boston Massacre

  • Practice analysis and critical thinking by explaining propaganda as it relates to Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre

  • Demonstrate understanding of how the Boston Massacre was a cause of the American Revolution by explaining British and Colonial reactions to the massacre

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Session 1: Image Analysis

1. Give each student the Anticipation Guide: Boston Massacre to introduce them to the topics that will be studied over the next three sessions: the Boston Massacre, propaganda, and British/Colonial reactions to the massacre. Have each student complete column 1 of the guide before the start of the lesson.

2. Assign groups of three students to work together. Give each group the My Task List: Boston Massacre. Read and explain each task and the points to be earned. Review the extension activities and remind students that the extensions are optional. Give each group one of the images of the Boston Massacre. Do not let students see Paul Revere's engraving at this point.

3. Tell the groups that they are to observe their image for one minute. After the minute is up, group members should discuss their observations of the people, objects, and activities in the image and complete the first section of the Image Analysis Sheet.

4. Have group members complete the inferences and questions sections of the Image Analysis Sheet after their discussion.

5. When each group has completed their analysis sheet, give them a copy of Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre. Group members then use the 2-circle interactive Venn Diagram to record the similarities and differences between their group's assigned image of the Boston Massacre and Paul Revere's interpretation of the event.

6. Have student groups report to the class the similarities and differences they found between their assigned images and Paul Revere's engraving.

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Session 2: Culminating Activity

1. Read aloud The Boston Massacre by Michael Burgan. Students will make connections to the read-aloud and the images they analyzed in Session 1. The following prompts can help get the discussion started:

  • What were some of the events that led to the Boston Massacre?

  • Do you think the British were justified in sending for more soldiers on the night of the massacre?

  • Describe the mood of the crowd (Patriots and British soldiers) the night of the massacre.
2. Introduce the concept of propaganda and post the following definition: Propaganda is a type of message aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of people.

3. Have the student groups get together to work on the culminating activity. Each group will create a 4-square poster, which should be completed on poster board. Give each group a copy of the 4-Square Project Template; a sheet of poster board; and markers, pens, and pencils.

  • Tell students that Box 1 should include their group's observations and inferences and the completed Venn Diagram that they used to compare their original image of the Boston Massacre to Paul Revere's engraving of the event.

  • In Box 2, students should provide an explanation of how Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre was propaganda. The box should also include a detailed explanation of British and Colonial reactions to the massacre.

  • In Box 3, students should create their own depictions of the Boston Massacre based on the images they analyzed and the facts they learned from the read-aloud. Have students include a caption explaining their drawing.

  • In Box 4, students should write a poem (ballad or cinquain) that explains how and why the Boston Massacre was a cause of the American Revolution.

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Session 3: Oral Presentations/Wrap-Up

1. Have each group present its 4-square poster to the class.

2. Have each student complete column 2 of the Anticipation Guide: Boston Massacre.

3. Have student volunteers read the false statements from their anticipation guide that they made true. Students should be able to explain what part of the lesson helped them make the false statements true (e.g., "The Boston Massacre was a disagreement between Patriots and British soldiers. I learned this by analyzing images of the Boston Massacre.").

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  • Have students find examples of propaganda in current newspapers, magazines, journals, or other publications, and give oral presentations explaining why what they found is propaganda.

  • Have students write an essay explaining the effects of propaganda. They should use specific historical and/or current events to support their ideas. Suggest that they use the Essay Map as a prewriting tool before drafting their essays. Alternatively, students could write an essay that compares their own impressions of the Boston Massacre to Paul Revere's engraving using the Compare & Contrast Map as a prewriting tool.

  • Have students create an example of propaganda that we may see today. In 2 to 3 paragraphs, students should explain who would be affected by this propaganda.

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Assess studentsí understanding of the concepts studied using the task list. You and your students should assess the following areas:

  • Clear and accurate understanding of propaganda

  • Understanding of how the Boston Massacre was a cause of the American Revolution

  • Presentation of information to the class using eye contact and appropriate volume

  • Effective use of comprehension strategies to make meaning (e.g., observations, inferences, visualizing, making connections, questioning)

  • Effective editing for conventions of grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling

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