Home‎ > ‎Lesson Plans‎ > ‎

Michigan History -- Native Peoples

3rd grade students in Michigan study Michigan history, government, economics, and peoples.  The state requirements also expect them to use primary sources as part of this exploration.  I had the opportunity to work with a veteran teacher but new to 3rd grade, who was interested in discovering new ways to teach this.  The students had just finished studying Michigan's natural resources, so we collaborated to help the student understand Michigan's first peoples.  I introduced the possibility of using the Library of Congress's Picturing America collection, and we came up with this lesson to start her unit. 
Lesson Plan – 3rd Grade – Native Americans in Michigan

Stage 1 -- Desired Results



Established Goal (Content Standards)








Standards for the 21st Century Learner:

1.1.1        Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in

own life.

1.1.2        Us prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

1.1.3        Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.

1.1.6       Read, view, and listen for info. presented in any format (e.g. textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.

1.2.1       Display initiative and engagement by posing questions and investigating the answers beyond the superficial collection of facts.

1.3.4       Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.

1.4.4       Seek appropriate help when it is needed.

3.1.2       Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

3.2.2       Show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations and by contributing questions and ideas during group


3.2.3       Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others.



Michigan Social Studies Content Expectations:

3 – H3.0.5 Use informational text and visual data to compare how American Indians and settlers in the early history of Michigan adapted to, used, and modified their environments.

















Essential Questions





Students will understand that:



·          What are primary sources?




·          Primary sources are documents/photographs/artifacts which were developed by someone with authority about a time period who lived during that time period

·          Can I create a primary source?

·          What do these photographs tell us about Native American tribes in Michigan?









·          Things that are not primary sources – biographies, readings in their textbooks.






























Students will be able to:


Students will know that they can develop questions to help them understand a topic better.

·          Create a primary source.

·          Examine a photograph and identify what they see.

·          Develop questions/wonderings about things they see.



Stage 2 -- Assessment Evidence














Performance Tasks




Other Evidence





Through what authentic performance tasks will students demonstrate the desired understanding?

Through what other evidence will students demonstrate achievement of the desired results?  How will students reflect upon and self-assess their learning?



·          Students will create primary source documents.


·          Main evidence of achievement of results will be through observation, by

Teacher and ST


·          Students will make observations about what is contained in a historical photograph.

·          Students will participate in class discussions

·          Students will be asked at the end of the lesson to either write or speak into a recorder to say one thing they have learned today.  If it is a spoken response, then podcast will be posted to classroom wiki.



·          Students will make inferences about photographs














Stage 3 -- Learning Plan









·          Approximate lesson time – 45 to 60 minutes.  Part of overall unit on Michigan’s First People.

·          Introduce self to students.  Explain how in their last lesson, they looked at Michigan resources and climate.  Tell them now we are going to look at how Michigan’s earliest people, what we now call Native Americans, adapted to living in Michigan.  Ask them “What is another name or expression that means the same thing as “Native Americans”.

·          Begin with KLEW chart – students will say what they think they Know about the terms Native American and Indian.  Brief discussion, around 2 minutes.  KLEW is a variation on KWL – Kristin has experimented with this because not everyone Wants to know something about a topic

·          To introduce primary sources, pass each student a paper that says “Things my family does to prepare for winter”.  Give them examples from summer, like weeding the flower beds, mulching, cleaning the pool, refinishing the deck, opening windows, and turning on air conditioning.  Give them a few minutes to complete the handout.

·          Ask for a few examples.  Explain to students that they have created primary sources.  Tell students what a primary source is (a document, photograph or artifact from a time period created by someone who knew firsthand about that time period – not a biography, but an autobiography, not a contemporary child’s toy bow and arrow but a real bow and arrow, not Disney’s Mulan movie but a Chinese scroll, not Disney’s Pocahontas movie but Lewis and Clark’s diary about their journey..)

·          Show first photograph of the women gathering rice picture.  Tell them their first group task is to describe what they see in the picture. Divide students into groups (Vicki uses cards to divide them into groups of three, with either one group of either three or four, depending on their preferences).  Tell students that someone in the group should take notes about what they as a group observe in the picture.

·          Have students report out – telling what their group observed.  Keep record of this on KLEW chart – this is Evidence. 

·          Probe students to think more deeply about this.  Ask questions to see what inferences they’ve made.  (Examples would be – What are they doing? What is the weather like?  Why are they wearing the clothes they are wearing?  Are they related? What do you think they were doing before having this picture taken?  What will they do after?  Are they rich or poor?  Does this matter?  What is the water?  Who is the mother of the baby?  What does this photograph tell you about the tribe, etc.  Use their responses to fill out the L part, which is Learned  – what did they learn about this photograph?

·          Now ask – what do they want to know more about?  This is the W – What do we Wonder?  Here they can suggest things they can’t tell about the Native Americans that they would like to study/learn/know.  Write these on chart.  Tell students that they have found a lot out just by using these pictures to not only learn something but to ask questions that will help them with what they’ll learn next.

·          If time, use second picture or Iroquois picture.

·          Make sure they do the exit interview – what did students learn? 









W = Help the students know Where the unit is going and What is expected?  Help the teacher know Where the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests)?  Prior knowledge will come from first part of lesson where students say what they think they know about Native Americans/Indians.  Will tell students in beginning where lesson is going by hooking it to their prior lesson.


H = Hook all students and Hold their interest?   Students will have plenty of opportunity to participate.  Students will create their own primary source.  Another hook will be using the older pictures.  Also, this class likes discussing/talking.


E = Equip all students, help them Experience the key ideas and Explore the issues?   Students will have worksheets to create their own primary source.  Students will have pictures and small plus large group discussion to experience the key ideas and explore the issues.


R = Provide opportunities to Rethink and Revise their understandings and work?  Students will have opportunity to rethink and revise their small group understandings when we have the large group discussion.


E = Allow students to Evaluate their work and its implications?   This will come later in the unit.   


T = Be Tailored (personalized) to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners?  Classroom and student teacher will monitor and support group discussions as well as preparation of their primary sources.  Also will give examples for another season so students will understand how to create their own.  Students can choose to write a paragraph, list examples or draw a picture to create their primary source.  Teacher will wear a microphone to do lecture.


O = Be Organized to maximize initial and sustained engagement as well as effective learning?


Resources:  Sheets for creating primary sources.  PowerPoint slides with historical photographs from Library of Congress Picturing America collection.  Deck of cards to divide class into groups. KLEW chart.


Technology:  Projector, digital recorder to convert later to MP3 for class wiki, microphone.