Sunday, January 17, 2010

"What If" Assignment

Some events happen so quickly but have a tremendous significance at the time and later. For the “What If” Assignment, students reflect on a quick moment in time like an assassination or even a near miss of a key historical figure. Then based on their knowledge of the event, that person’s role in history prior to the assassination attempt, and the impact of their loss on history, students predict what might be different in history and today had the attempt failed or succeeded.

1. Pose this question to students “What if Booth missed?” or “What if Lincoln had survived the assassination attempt?” Then ask them to brainstorm all the thought that come to mind in 5 minutes.

2. Conduct a discussion in the class around the Lincoln assassination as this is already a popular topic. Even at one medical convention they discussed what if medicine could have saved him.

3. Student picks a key historical figure’s assignation or attempted assassination. Here are a few to suggest for US History: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Richard M. Nixon, John F Kennedy, John Lennon (If you conduct the Lincoln Discussion, you probably won’t offer this one to students)

4. Student researches biography of key historical figure, events prior to the assassination, the assassination, the biography of the assassinator, and the outcome and effect of that attempt.

5. Based on their understanding of the person, events surrounding the assassination, and later the outcomes, the student writes a paper or presentation predicting what might have occurred differently then and now had the result of the assassination had been changed.

Be sure to specify length and other expectations to your students. What would be required of a grade school student would be different than that of a college student. Encourage students to not just day dream or include lots of wishful thinking, but base predictions on facts and details.

No comments: