Revisiting Pocahontas Unit
- Grade Level: High School, Middle School
- Subject Area: Social Studies
Students will engage in a critique of the historical and cultural
accuracy of the
Walt Disney film, Pocahontas. After viewing the film, students will undertake research
using both text and web resources to gather information about the accuracy of he
film. Students will work in research teams to carry out their investigations, each team
will focus on a separate question of accuracy. Students will share their findings
with the class and complete projects that synthesize the information gathered by
the class as a whole.
- use a variety of resources to gather historical information.
- critically examine one potential historical resource using other resources to
assess its validity.
- develop habits that will help them become more critical consumers of media.
Materials and Resources Needed
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware
and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the
LETSNet website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer
(PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components - mouse, keyboard, monitor,
etc. - as well as software - operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up
software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps
Mosaic or Lynx. In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software
requirements for a lesson or activity - in addition to those described above - and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: a TV and VCR.
- Special software requirements: A copy of Disney's movie, Pocahontas.
- Network/Internet requirements: A high speed connection
- Classroom resources: A variety of textual resources for students to use in their
For advice on how to adjust the plans if you have only one computer see
the section One Computer vs. Many below.
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Introduction. Students will discuss what makes a
valid historical resource.
- Lesson Two: Pocahontas as a Resource. Students will view the
film and write guided responses in journals. Journal responses will be shaped by a set of questions
that students will use through out the unit to evaluate resources they use. Students
will begin to identify possible inconsistencies in the film.
- Lesson Three: Evaluating Pocahontas. Students will begin their
research using both web and library resources. Students will work in teams to address specific
concerns about the movie. This stage of the unit will most likely take several class
periods to complete.
- Lesson Four: The Merits of Pocahontas Examined. Student research
teams will report their findings. Students will take notes on their classmates' findings and
incorporate the results in their final projects.
Relation to Standards
We have drawn on the historical thinking standards outlined by the National Center
for History in the Schools as well as evolving standards for the National Council
for Teachers of English. These standards provide excellent guidelines
for teachers on how to focus social science work in their classrooms.
One Computer versus Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching situations where
students have access to several computers with Internet access. To accommodate the classrooms
that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet access, students may
work together in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you may choose to do one of the
- Have students alternate between library research and Internet research. That way
some students will work on the computer using the Internet to do research while others
use paper/printed resources.
- Have student research teams download portions of sites that are related to the research
theme and have paper copies made for all students to use.
- If you have the capability, use either an LCD panel and overhead or a video-monitor
to project the computer screen for all to see. This would allow the group to share
the interactive nature of the Web, while conducting some basic discussions of what
the sites have to offer.
- If you have other computers with copies of Netscape, but without an Internet hook-up,
you may download portions of sites and save them to a disc to load onto the non-Internet
computers. Students may then open the downloaded files with Netscape. This will not allow
students to have the full interactive experience of the Web, but will
allow them to explore in smaller groups some of the information that is found on
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