Is John Smith a Liar?!

Is John Smith a Liar?!

Ipads and History



This lesson dives into the life of Pocahontas and John Smith through the reading of primary sources. Class discussions take place to evaluate what students know and understand.



Lemay, J.A. Leo. The American Dream of Captain John Smith, 1991.

Lewis, Paul. The Great Rogue: A Biography of Captain John Smith,1966, (172-173).

Smith, John. A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of note as hath happened in Virginia Since the First Planting of that Colony, 1608.

Smith, John. General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, 1624.

Lesson plan and worksheet courtesy of:



Background for Teachers


Lesson Title & Subject(s): United States History II


Topic or Unit of Study: Colonial 


Grade/Level: 10th-12th


Instructional Setting:

High school classroom of 43 students with 2/3 being female and the other 1/3 male. Desks arranged to allow students to see the board and see the teacher during lectures. General note taking and group work take place. Technology used in class to fulfill the objective. 1 ELL student and two students who require accommodations. Class is 75 minutes. Will follow the FLEX blended learning model.


Standard 3: Students will understand the changes caused by European exploration in the Americas.

Objective 1: Explore life among the various American Indian nations prior to European exploration of the New World.

a. Identify the major regional American Indian nations of North America.
b. Examine the cultures of American Indian nations; e.g.languages, beliefs, traditions, and lifestyles.



Student Prior Knowledge


Prior to this lesson students should know the historical reading skills and the basic content covered in this course.


Student Learning Intentions and Success Criteria


Reading a series of documents focused around American Colonization (A True Relation, General History, The Great Rouge, and The American Dream of Captain John Smith) students will interpret and analyze each document using historical reading skills (sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading) and complete a worksheet with questions that incorporate all four skills and will achieve mastery when they score 100% on the worksheet and answer the final question: Did Pocahontas save John Smith’s life? Students will explain the importance of primary documents and reliability through the creation of a pamphlet on Mac Pages


Instructional Procedures


  1. At home (Flex)
  • At home: Students watch a recorded lecture that does the following
    • Provide background knowledge of Jamestown, John Smith, and Pocahontas
      • Make sure students recognize and understand the current relationship between Natives and Europeans.
    • Watch a clip-America the Story of US
      • Canvas discussion: What is the current relationship like between Colonists and Native Americans? What can be done to improve?
  1. Presentation Procedures for New Information: (20 min)
    1. Pocahontas
      1. What do you know about Pocahontas?
        1. Write answers on the board—ask how they know it—Where did they learn it?
      2. Play clip of Disney movie where Pocahontas saves John Smith
        1. Did this really happen? Disney wouldn’t lie correct?
        2. To really know what happened, where could we look?
      3. Quick background on John Smith’s capture
  2. Guided Practice: (10 Min)
    1. As a class we will work through the first two documents and worksheet questions
      1. Pay particular attention to what is said—use projector to underline and annotate document
  3. Independent Student Practice: (15 min)
    1. Students work individually on second group of reading and questions
    2. Answer the final question and provide evidence
  4. Culminating or Closing Procedure/Activity/Event: (30 Min)-FOLLOWS THE SAMR method by incorporating the M (Modification)
    1. Students get on Canvas and take 5 minutes to answer the discussion questions
      1. Did Pocahontas save John Smith’s life?
      2. Why would he lie?
    2. After students answer the questions come back as a class and get into groups
    3. Groups will create pamphlets that address the following questions (Pamphlets should promote primary sources and the importance of assessing reliability)
      1. Why are primary sources important to understanding history?
      2. Why is questioning sources important?
    4. Groups must use Mac Pages and share it with the teacher when completed
      1. Use images
      2. Must be in their own words



Differentiated Instruction Accommodations:


ELL Students: At this stage of the year ELL students will attempt to complete assignments on their own, but tutor and teacher available for them if they need it. 


Student with learning disabilities/Accommodations: Extended time on assignments will be given to students. Teachers will pull students aside and read directions out loud. If necessary students can go to the writing lab to have documents read to them through the computer.



Assessment Plan

  • Observation during discussion
  • Primary Source assignment
  • Pamphlet





















Teacher Sample



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