READ THIS FIRST:  Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I start?

We have designed a comprehensive online site that builds students’ understanding about the harvest celebration of 1621, which is often erroneously referred to as “The First Thanksgiving.” The learning on the site is supported and enhanced by an online teacher’s guide, “Becoming a Historian,” with lessons that correspond to each activity on the site,, graphic organizers,, and additional resources and information.

We suggest you start by familiarizing yourself with the guide, the site, and the materials needed for successful completion of the lessons and activities. The site and the guide have been designed to meet Massachusetts 3rd and 5th grade learning standards. However, the activities on the site, and particularly in the guide, can be easily modified for use in classrooms in other states and at other grade levels. We encourage all modifications that engage students and develop understanding. However, please evaluate any other activities you may develop (such as crafts, recreated feasts, or role-playing) to make sure they do not perpetuate myths and/or cultural stereotypes.

Can I use the site without the teacher’s guide?

The site was designed as a progression of activities that develop students’ understanding. Once students have reached the main home page, students will see the activities laid out in the order that we suggest they be completed—from top to bottom. Both the full progression and each individual activity can be completed without the teacher’s guide.

However, the lessons in the guide provide a deeper level of exploration and enhance understanding for students, particularly in terms of the historian skills they are using on the site.

Where should my students start?

Whether you choose to use the guide and the site, or just the site, we suggest your students start by completing the Introductory Performances in the teacher’s guide before they complete any other lessons or use the online site. These activities are essential because they introduce students to their role as historians and begin to challenge their ideas about the story of “The First Thanksgiving.”

Students should then go online and experience the site’s introductory sequence. It sets the tone for the site and will get students excited about what they are about to learn.

What materials will I need?

At the beginning of each lesson in the guide, we have included a Materials section. This will give you a good idea of what you will need to have on hand for each lesson.

We have placed graphic organizers as pdf files in the Historian’s Log for use with the online activities and to enhance the offline lessons.These organizers can be printed in advance and used for information collecting as students navigate the corresponding online activities.

Also, check the Background Information and Additional Resources section of the guide. We have included sites, books, and other resources that you might want to make available for your students.

How will I evaluate what my students understand?

The site and the guide were designed using the Teaching for Understanding framework. The activities and lessons include multiple opportunities for students to “perform” their understanding. These “performances” are designed to accommodate a variety of learning styles and to provide opportunities for self, peer, and more formal assessment of students’ progress toward the Understanding Goals for the site and the guide. We have also included an Ongoing Assessment section with each lesson that provides you with a quick and easy activity to gauge your students’ level of understanding.

We have chosen not to include rubrics as we feel that each individual teacher will know how best to evaluate students in these situations.

How many class periods should I allow for each complete lesson and/or online activity?

The completion times for the lessons in the teacher’s guide vary. None should take more than two class periods to complete. We have separated lessons that may take two class periods into Class One and Class Two.

We designed each online activity to be completed in less than 45 minutes.

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