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New Lesson Plan: Worlds Collide: First Contact Between Columbus and the Taino

Published on Mon, 02/29/2016

[caption id="attachment_9108" align="alignright" width="300"]The Landing of Columbus The Landing of Columbus[/caption] Expose your students to the history (and reality) behind Christopher Columbus’ first encounter with the Caribbean and the Taino. Two key primary sources in this lesson are a letter from Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain detailing interactions between Europeans and the indigenous population and a 1562 map of European attitudes toward the New World. With guidance from teachers, these documents can help spark inquiry from students:
  • How and why was this map created?
  • Who were the Taino? What did Columbus think of them?
  • What did the Taino think of Columbus?
  • What does this map convey about the values of Spanish (European) culture and their attitudes toward discovered peoples during the Age of Exploration?
  • What does it mean to say that Columbus “discovered” the Americas?
The bulk of the lesson deals with perceptions and includes the historical fiction “Encounter” by Jane Yolan. Students will analyze the primary source documents and complete a Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction (RAN) chart demonstrating their understanding of the topic. The lesson plan includes options for differentiating instruction and extension activities such as a Smithsonian article entitled “What became of the Taino” and an essay prompt exploring what would happen if beings with different culture and technology from another planet came to planet Earth? Students can explore the concepts of “what if?” and how would they feel if they had to experience the kind of mistreatment the Taino were subjected to under the colonists. View more details, and download or access the lesson plan online. Emerging America brings this lesson to you thanks to the outstanding primary sources and materials provided by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Karen Albano

former History eNews Editor, Emerging America
Karen Albano worked with Emerging America from 2015-2020, contributing to many facets of the program including developing curriculum, improving the accessibility of the website to educators, overseeing social media outreach, and editing the History eNews.