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Historical Journals: Practicing differing perspectives (Part 2 of 6)


Social Studies, History, Religion, Art


Middle School, 6-8
High School, 9-12

Time required

45 minutes

Materials required


Related background reading


Related documents


Related links


Lesson Plan


In this lesson, students will practice interpreting an event from a point of view.


  • Students will practice interpreting an event from a point of view.
  • Students will note the challenges inherent in adopting another person’s point of view, and discuss the pros and cons of such an exercise.

Questions or Assessment

  • Can the facts of an event be interpreted differently depending on the perspective of a person?
  • How can a person’s perspective influence the recording of a historical event?
  • Is it difficult re-interpreting an event from another person’s perspective?


Teacher prep
Identify an interesting historical event with the potential for multiple historical perspectives. Examples on Guampedia can be found by following the links above.

Listening Exercise (5 minutes)

  1. Have students put away any distracting items, and close their eyes.
  2. Describe a historical scenario to students.  Set a scene and restrict it to facts. Be descriptive and thorough, and try to include a contentious issue (a historical conflict or disagreement).
    • Use Guampedia or another reputable source to research the scenario you will be sharing.
    • Try to engage the students, as they will be using this scenario in the next exercise as well.
    • Examples: Early missionaries and CHamorus; US Naval commanders and Guam politicians (scroll through the list) in the 1930s; CHamorus on Guam and CHamorus on Saipan and Rota during WWII.
  3. Once complete, briefly recap the scenario. Confirm that students are not confused, and that they understand the basic scenario presented before them.

Analyzing from One Perspective (25 minutes)

  1. Ask students to imagine they are on a certain side of the historical scenario presented in the listening exercise.
    • Be sure to pick the perspective; do not allow students to pick the side (as it may become confusing).
    • Example: Two different sides regarding the Bill of Rights for Guam; one side focused on the Secretary of the Navy, and the other on Guam Governor-Commandant Captain Willis Bradley.
    • Example: Or, something more general, along the lines of CHamorus in the 1890s, and missionaries in the 1890’s
  2. Remind students of the perspectives read and discussed in the previous lesson (Day 1), and note that they will now be writing their own, similar works.
  3. Explain to students that they will now write from one person’s point of view.
  4. Have students write a journal entry.
    • The writing can take any form: stream of consciousness, structured personal essay, letter to the editor, personal diary. The important issue is that students express themselves through the viewpoint of another individual.
    • Remind students to focus on the facts presented in the scenario, but to interpret them however they would like.
    • Encourage students to include emotions and feelings into their work.

Discussion (10 minutes)

  1. Have students share portions of their writing. Ask for short segments.
  2. Ask students to discuss the writing samples just shared by their peers. Ask questions that will prompt discussion of viewpoint and perspective. Examples include:
    • What facts could you identify in this students’ excerpt?
    • What emotions can you identify?
    • Did emotions change the way certain events and actions are interpreted?
    • [Grades 10-12] Are emotions facts? Is it a fact that people are upset/happy/angry?
      • For this question, guide the discussion toward an understanding that facts can be interpreted differently due to emotion, but that the emotion itself is independently notable as a fact.
  3. Ask open-ended questions that will encourage students to begin critically examining the practice of adopting another person’s perspective. Examples of such questions include:
    • What was easy about this assignment?
    • What was difficult?
    • Did you gain insights into this person’s motivations? Emotions? Stances?
    • Does the scenario seem different to you now? How have you learned more?

Recap (5 minutes)
Recap what we’ve done and learned in the lesson:

“We’ve learned about the different perspectives individuals can have when interpreting an event. We were even presented with an event and practiced understanding it through the ‘lens’ of an historical individual. Lastly, we discussed the challenges in doing this, and the importance of critically analyzing historical accounts.”

Ask students for their favorite parts of the lesson.