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In the Classroom > Course Overview

Course Central Question:
What were the distinguishing characteristics of the people of the Deerfield and their relationship with the land as illustrated through changes in lifestyles, economy, and governance?

The Nile of New England:
A Study of the History of a Connecticut River Valley Town Over Three Centuries

Overview of Unit 1: The Colonial Period 1680 - 1720

Unit Length: 13 lessons in 14 class periods (85 minutes each)

Teacher Background:
After King Philip's War, Deerfield was resettled in 1682 and was never again abandoned, in spite of a series of attacks by French and Indians extending as late as 1746. The most momentous attack in this period was in 1704 when houses within the palisade were burned and 111 men, women and children were taken captive and marched to Canada.

Key Content Ideas Covered In This Unit:
Deerfield was a frontier community, settled by English people who desired land and an opportunity for prosperity. We will learn about the people who came to settle Deerfield, why they were determined to create a town "in the wilderness," how their religion served as comfort and inspiration, and how they functioned as an interdependent community in the formative years of the town. Conversely, we will attempt to understand reasons for constant warfare and the nature of the porous border that enclosed them.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  1. the political, social, religious, and economic world and national context in which the events of Deerfield occurred.
  2. that there were increasingly in this period competing political agendas, and competition for land, power, and wealth in Deerfield.
  3. that wars between France and England and local cultural conflict contributed to the volatile environment.
  4. the physical boundaries of Deerfield in the context of the geologic formations and land use and settlement.
  5. that the Deerfield region was vulnerable to attacks, and that this created an unstable environment.
  6. the motivations for the settlement in Deerfield by the English.
  7. that in Massachusetts there was no division of church and state as we understand it, and this condition influenced every aspect of daily life.
  8. that land ownership conferred power because it was a determinant of wealth, and a prerequisite for political participation.
  9. that it has always been natural to live with unsolved problems.
  10. that the past has a significant influence on present day lives and society.
  11. that it is valuable to study the lives, actions, ideas, political experiences, and judgments of people in the past.
  12. that it is important NOT to judge people in the past by today's notions and beliefs.
  13. how historians approach their work, using both artifacts and documents.
  14. that both primary source materials and interpretive materials of all types are rich sources of historical evidence.

Students will be able to:

  1. identify and articulate differing points of view.
  2. use graphic organization skills to represent conceptual understandings of land use and acquisition.
  3. transcribe a primary document.
  4. use a variety of primary source materials, to analyze these sources, and to make logical inferences and supported conclusions.
  5. make reference to previously presented material.
  6. utilize technology to research information and present projects.
  7. compare and contrast events in Deerfield with world and national events.

Unit At-A-Glance (lesson titles link to lessons)

# Lesson Content Covered Skills Covered
1 Overview of World events during the Deerfield Colonial Period

Motivations for nations to expand into the New World. Making cultural imprints on the frontier.

Map reading, analytical skills of paints and events, drawing conclusions, determining cause and effect.

2 The Massachusetts Frontier: Turner

Understanding the concept of Turner's "theory"of the Frontier. Consideration of the coming together of two cultures: the English and Native Peoples.

Analytical, use of the graphic organizer – mapping, use of the website, cause and effect.

3 English Settlement

Development of the New England colonies, rationale for settlement, the importance of the Puritan theology in this development.

Map reading, analysis, reading comprehension, discussion.

4 The Work of an Historian / Research 17th Century Colonist John Pynchon of Springfield, Massachusetts

Learning about the early English settlement of the Connecticut River Valley through the examination of the life of John Pynchon and his role in its development. Differentiating between primary and secondary documents, learning the work of the historian.

Web searching, research skills, determining primary and secondary sources.

5 The Story of How Deerfield Came to Be

The establishment of the settlement through a discussion of the Dedham grant, the division of land into lots, interaction with the Native Peoples, the "hedge" theory of frontier development.

Map reading, document analysis, discussion.

6 A Visit to Deerfield: Learning about the layout of this colonial village Land allotments to the English settlers, Puritan influence on the settlement, the story of two colonial women to demonstrate life in this time period.

Analytical, map reading, compare and contrast, discussion.

7 Conflict in the Frontier town of Deerfield The Deerfield Raid of 1704, relationships among the English, French and Native Peoples, removal of captives to Canada.

Analysis, map reading, cause and effect, discussion.

8 The Genre of Captivity Literature Examination of rationale of captivity of the English through examination of the literature of the events.

Analytical, map reading, discussion.

9 A Research Project: A Discussion of the Recreating and Populating of a Colonial Village Development and growth of a cohesive community, influence of the Puritan values on how that community functions, growth of agriculture and trade.

Analytical, discussion, research skills, evaluation of resources.

10 A Second Visit to Deerfield Deerfield is in a period of growth after the threat of raids had diminished, outward expression of the established settlement through the examination of a house, the meeting house, and the graveyard.

Analytical, discussion, web researching.

11 New England Colonials: John Stebbins and Ebenezer Wells (1691-1758)

Learning about Life in Deerfield during growth period through the examination of artifacts and documents of Stebbins and Wells.

Document and artifact analysis, drawing conclusions, discussion, transcription of documents, genealogical research.

12 Populating Deerfield: A Workday for Researching the Colonial families

Expansion of understanding of the founding families of Deerfield, development of a project that requires the "creation" of a new family member, reflecting the time period.

Synthesis of information, applying what has been learned, creative expression, interpretation.

13 Class Presentation

Presentation of learned information in an exhibition format. Presentation of period food.

Presentation skills, discussion, dining room manners.

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