Harpers Ferry History

Summary

Students will be able to describe the significance of John Brown's Fort using primary and secondary sources. The students will explain the importance of using multiple primary sources.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

Students will be able to describe the significance of John Brown's Fort using primary and secondary sources. The students will explain the importance of using multiple primary sources.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Art

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts

Grades

  • 9th
  • 10th
  • 11th
  • 12th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Three
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 121-150 minutes

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of primary and secondary sources, annotating text and the Civil War.

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)

Materials

  • 1 overhead projector or other classroom technology
  • 1 overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
    • "Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter" page
  • Copies of the following:
    • "Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter" page
    • "Harpers History Essay Question and Rubric"
  • Class map of the United States
  • Highlighters (one per student)
  • Bookmark websites that provide background on Harpers Ferry and John Brown's Fort.
  • Prepare examples of primary and secondary sources that reveal details of the significance of John Brown, the fort depicted in the coin and Harpers Ferry prior to the Civil War.

Preparations

  • Make an overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
    • "Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter" page
  • Make copies of the following:
    • "Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter" page (one per student)
    • Create document analysis worksheets for multiple types of documents (letter, report, diary, etc.)
    • "Harpers Ferry History Essay Question and Rubric" (one per student)
  • Bookmark the Harpers Ferry website located at http://www.nps.gov/hafe/index.htm
    • Prepare visual examples of primary and secondary sources that reveal details of the significance of John Brown, the fort depicted in the coin and Harpers Ferry prior to the Civil War.

Worksheets

Worksheets and files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

  1. Locate this site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
  2. As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
  3. Display and examine the "Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter" page
  4. Tell the students that the front of a coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Ask the students to read the inscriptions on the image of the coin's reverse.
  5. Ask the students what information may be inferred from the inscriptions. As students make their inferences, list them on the board or chart paper.  Student responses should include that John Brown's fort is located in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; that this must be an important location in United States history since it is inscribed on United States currency; and that "E Pluribus Unum" means "Out of Many, One."
  6. Explain that the image on the reverse design features John Brown's Fort, the site of John Brown's last stand during his raid on the Armory in 1859.
  7. Using sources listed in "preparation," display primary and secondary sources and discuss with students the significance of the imagery on the coin. Include images, texts and other documents for reference.
  8. Lead a class discussion about the reliability of each source. Include the creation date of the document as part of the conversation. Ask them how they could locate this information.
  9. Tell the students that analyzing the primary sources is only the first step in corroborating sources of information.
  10. As a class, confirm the accuracy of at least one secondary source against the primary sources.
  11. Facilitate a class discussion about why it is important to corroborate sources of information in history. Ask the students if they think this is a skill that can be applied to other academic fields or in daily life. Have the students provide specific examples and details with their answers.
  12. Tell the students that tomorrow they will write an essay explaining the importance of the corroboration of sources of information in daily life.
  13. Distribute the "Harpers History Essay Question and Rubric." Review the essay question and rubric with students.
  14. Allow time for the students to write the first draft of their essays. Provide individual assistance as needed.
  15. Allow time for peer editing and feedback.
  16. Have the students write the final version of their essay.
  17. Have the students fill in the self-assessment on their rubric. Collect the rubrics and essays.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students conduct research on the roles of other people during this time.
  • Have students select a topic from their textbook and conduct research to find primary sources that corroborate or refute the information in their textbook.

Assess

  • Note participation in class discussions.
  • Use the essay and rubric to evaluate whether the students meet the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.11-12 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RL.11-12.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • RL.11-12.2. Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RL.11-12.3. Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.11-12 Writing
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
Standards:

  • W.11-12.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 
    • Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons and evidence.
    • Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level, concerns, values and possible biases.
    • Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
  • W.11-12.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization and analysis of content. 
    • Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables) and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.
    • Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
    • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the
    • information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
  • W.11-12.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences. 
    • Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
    • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events and/or characters.
    • Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth or resolution).
    • Use precise words and phrases, telling details and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting and/or characters.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed or resolved over the course of the narrative.

National Standards

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 9-12 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Proficient:

  • Students differentiate among a variety of historical and cultural contexts in terms of characteristics and purposes of works of art
  • Students describe the function and explore the meaning of specific art objects within varied cultures, times, and places
  • Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making

Advanced:

  • Students analyze and interpret artworks for relationships among form, context, purposes, and critical models, showing understanding of the work of critics, historians, aestheticians, and artists
  • Students analyze common characteristics of visual arts evident across time