Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Murder on the Frontier - Lesson 3

Students will read two additional primary source documents, two pamphlets representing the Paxton Pamphlet War, and complete activity sheets for each one. They will then develop a mock debate using the documents from Lessons 2 and 3 to deepen their understanding of the documents and demonstrate their comprehension. The unit concludes with an essay that builds on the assessment from Lesson 2.

Essential Questions
  1. Assign and distribute the two readings from the Paxton Pamphlet War—excerpts from Declaration and Remonstrance and Dialogue between Andrew Trueman and Thomas Zealot.
  2. Divide the class into groups of four to six students. Within their groups they will work collaboratively to complete an Analyzing a Pamphlet activity sheet for each of the new documents.
  3. After the groups have completed the Analyzing a Pamphlet activity sheets, each group is assigned or chooses one of the four Digital Paxton documents (two from this lesson and two from the previous lesson). It is best if all four texts are used before doubling up on any of the documents.
  4. Students select who will portray the speaker, and the rest of the group members will take the roles of reporters at a news conference.
  5. If possible, have the students watch an actual news conference prior to this activity.
  6. Hand out the News Conference organizer. Together the students in each group will write both the questions and the answers to the questions for each reporter. The questions should highlight the major issues in the document. If time permits, the students could script follow-up questions. They should be careful to cite evidence from the text for the answers given by the speaker. All students will write out their own complete copy of the questions and answers, not just their own question.
  7. Presentation:
    1. The speaker reads the text aloud to the class.
    2. The reporters raise their hands and the speaker selects them one by one to ask their question. 
    3. Continue until all of the questions have been asked, one per reporter; if time permits, they may ask their follow-up questions.
    4. Repeat the process with all of the groups. This may mean going into another class period to allow time for all of the presentations as well as time to debrief the experience.
  8. Have the class debrief the presentations: Which were the most effective? What made them effective? How could the presentations have been improved? Focus on good oral presentation skills as well as which questions elicited the most meaningful answers and whether the answers were based on evidence in the text.
  9. Students should now write an essay addressing one of the Essential Questions from Lesson 2. The students may elaborate on their short essay or exit card from the previous lesson or a new essay on the alternate question:
    1. To what extent were the Paxton Boys justified or not justified in attacking and annihilating the Conestoga Indians in Lancaster?
    2. To what extent were the factors of excessive competition and fear influential in the relationship between the colonists and the Conestoga Indians?

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