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Historical Comprehension. Moving from Confusion to Understanding. What are we up against?. Technology Entertainment Factor Attention Disorders Work Ethic Outside of Classroom Can you name others?.

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Historical Comprehension

Moving from Confusion to Understanding


What are we

up against?

  • Technology
  • Entertainment Factor
  • Attention Disorders
  • Work Ethic Outside of Classroom
  • Can you name others?

How do we move students from boredom and confusion to genuine interest and understanding?


Historical Comprehension

Historical narratives are believable accounts of human events, but more than that they have the power to disclose the intentions of the people involved, the difficulties they encountered and the complex world in which historical figures actually lived.


Goals of

Historical Comprehension

  • Students should develop the ability to read imaginatively.
  • Students should develop the ability to take into account what the narrative reveals of the humanity of the individuals involved.
  • Students develop the ability to describe the past on its terms

The skills of



  • Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility.
  • Reconstruct the literal meaning of the historical passage.
  • Identify the central question the historical narrative seeks to answer.
  • Define the purpose, perspective or point of view from which the narrative has been constructed.
  • Read the historical explanations or analysis with meaning.

The skills of



  • Recognize the rhetorical cues that signal how the author has organized the text.
  • Draw upon data in historical maps.
  • Utilize visual, mathematical and quantitative data.
  • Draw upon visual, literary and musical sources.


Touching the Hand

of Friendship:





Touching the Hand of

Friendship Bulletin Board

  • Students write their own story of friendship.
  • On one hand, the students will put the Title of their story.
  • On the other hand the students will write a quote from their stories.
  • Students will share their friendship stories with the class.
  • Display hands with titles and quotes on a bulletin board.

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Students make a WANTED Poster using the information from the previous Venn Diagram exercise.

DESSERTER, Pinkus Aylee

For War Crimes and Treason

Missing Union Soldier; former Georgia slave; mother- Moe Moe Bay; knows how to read; brave


Another Venn Diagram Idea

Students will create Venn Diagram in various shapes addressing the following aspects of the characters Pink and Say:

Situations That Pink and Say Find Themselves in Throughout the Book

Backgrounds of Pink and Say

Physical/Personal Traits of Pink & Say

Pink and Say’s Changes

Emotions displayed by

Pink and Say Throughout the Book


Pink & Say Venn Diagram Activity

  • Traits of both Pink and Say (Physical and Personality)
  • Emotions displayed by Pink and Say throughout the book
  • Backgrounds of Pink and Say
  • Situations that Pink and Say find themselves in throughout the book
  • Pink and Say’s Changes

Construct a Model….

The science of the Civil War can bring to reality the historical facts of the textbook. Have the students research the ways in which wounded soldiers were removed from the battlefield and treated. Have the students construct a small-scale model which would assist in carefully removing wounded soldiers from the battlefield.


Civil War Geography

with Pink & Say

Using the information provided in the map on you left, have the students create a map that illustrates the Union, Confederate and Border states and the Western territories. Note that Pink and Say were both Union soldiers.


Social Studies Ideas

Gather information about the Emancipation Proclamation and write a letter to Abraham Lincoln from Say’s point of view after he was released from prison. It should express feelings about the importance of the Civil War in American History.


Social Studies Ideas

Construct a timeline of important events from 1860 – 1865 including illustrations.


Social Studies Ideas

Civil War

In a class discussion, have the students explain why the Civil War had such a significant impact on the US. In addition, have the students give expected and unexpected consequences of the Civil War.


Summarizing Activities

Revisit the KWLS Chart from the launch activity and have students complete the last two columns. As class discusses answers from their individual papers, add information to chart paper from class KWLS Chart.


Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco provides an excellent avenue by which students can travel from the point of historical confusion to the destination of genuine historical understanding.



Cappenter, D. Literature. Retrieved July 10, 2009 from

Civil War Music. Retrieved July 9, 2009 from

Crabtree, C., Nash, P., and Waugh, S. Approaching United States History: Foundations of Good Teaching – Rationale: Why Study History/The Case of History in our Schools. Lesson From History, Essential Understanding and Historical Perspectives Students Should Acquire. 1992. pp. 1-10. The National Center for History in Schools. L.A., CA.

Polacco, P. Pink and Say. 1994. Philomel Books. New York.

Wood, J. 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2009.

Miscellaneous Illustrations –;