This strategy is effecting in helping students understand one reason why historians sometimes arrive at different conclusions about the past.
1. Select a topic for exploration (e.g. Civil Rights movement).
2. Gather two photographs that are likely to lead students to competing descriptions of a(n) person, event, institution, society etc. For example,
- Photograph A (photo of Dr. King) = suggests that the story of the Civil Rights movement is the story of charismatic leaders such Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks.
- Photograph B (photo of Montgomery freedom walkers) = the story of the Civil Rights movement is the story of thousands of courageous, everyday people.
3. Jigsaw: Split the class into halves. Divide students in both halves into small groups and distribute photograph A to some groups and Photograph B to other groups.
4. Have students analyze the photograph and discuss the following in their small groups: What does this photograph suggest about the topic (e.g. Civil Rights movement)?
5. Take students who analyzed photograph A and pair them off with students who analyzed photograph B. Ask each student in the paired group to describe the conclusions they drew from their photograph. If the photographs are well selected, students should arrive at competing conclusions
6. Ask students “why might historians arrive at different conclusions about the past?”
7. Debrief: explain that history is filled with different interpretations about the past. One reason for the different interpretations is that historians often rely on different pieces of evidence (e.g. photographs) to construct their accounts. Your experiences with the photographs suggest that there may be more than one story about the past.
©2008 Delaware Social Studies Education Project