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Jamestown lesson Plan

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 7 months ago

Exploring Jamestown – Problems & Solutions


Mae Isaac, Pace University

October 2007



Students will be able to understand the problems faced by the settlers at Jamestown and discuss solutions, and relate these behaviors through application of a “life lesson”.


Target Audience:

7th Grade, Social Studies


Time Needed:

1 class period (43 minutes)


Lesson Summary:

In 1607, Jamestown was founded by the Virginia Company and thus became the first permanent settlement in the New World. In this lesson, students will explore the challenges faced by these settlers and understand why certain choices were made.  Students will apply information gathered through primary source readings, homework assignments and group discussion and come up with solutions to the problems faced by the settlers.


Materials Needed:

Smartboard or other interactive white board

Smartboard Lesson – Smart NotebookJamestown timeline.notebook

Completed t-chart handout




Icebreaker: 5 minutes

Can you move the major events into the correct place on the timeline?

Students will view completed timeline and study for 1 minute.  Then students will have a chance to come to the SmartBoard to "accept the challenge" of putting the events in order.

This gives an “urgency” to settle in for learning – a timed competition is a great motivator for this particular 7th grade class.


Introduction: 5 minutes

What do you notice about this illustration?

Examine this illustration of the Jamestown settlement.  What do you notice from looking at the picture?

Some points to make:

  • Fort was near water (easy to dock boats, but ground was swampy – malaria – sick from drinking river water)
  • Triangular shape vs. square (easier to protect, Europeans preferred linear vs. Native Americans circular)
  • Well for drinking water was located in the center of fort (to protect from poison, etc - able to get water even if there is an attack on fort)
  • Frightened of their surroundings (palisades to protect them, water on one side so they could see their enemies coming)

Discussion: 5 minutes

Why were the settlers in the New World?

Acronym GRRL

  • Gold
  • Raw Materials
  • Religious Freedom
  • Land


Brainstorming: 20 minutes

What were the problems (and solutions) that the settlers faced in the New World?

Students should copy t-chart into their class notes and spend about 3-4 minutes listing problems in the New World.  Students will have read a primary source document written by Captain John Smith regarding the hardships the colonists faced in travel during the previous class period.  They will have also just read textbook pages on this material and made an outline for homework the night before. 


After 5 minutes, the teacher should call on students to volunteer a problem from their list.  There is a completed t-chart within the SmartBoard presentation, for reference or as a handout for students.  The teacher should write the suggested problem in the correct area of the t-chart. 


The teacher should have the students to consider the problems listed, and ask them to think how the colonists resolved their problems.  Can the students suggest a better solution to some of the problems? 


After 5 minutes, students should be called upon to come to the SmartBoard and write an answer to a listed problem.  Teacher should then help students make connections between listed problems and solutions.


If there is time, the teacher can briefly discuss problems that may have been left out of the discussion  (see completed t-chart for ideas).


Assessment: 5 minutes

Students will be asked to relate the material they have learned to a “Life Lesson” – what have they learned by the behavior exhibited by the colonists tell the students?  Some suggestions were:

  • Needs before Wants – the colonist suffered because they wanted to be rich
  • Peace Not War – they did not have a good relationship with the Natives in the area
  • Survival before Gold – you must plan for your basic needs before wealth


The students will also answer a short oral review quiz about the material.


If there is any time left in the period, students who did not get a chance to try the timeline activity may have another chance; this is a popular activity, due to being able to use the SmartBoard before peers.J


Outside Resources:

These websites were utilized in creating this lesson plan.




Virtual Jamestown Fort - QuickTime

The History of Jamestown

Jamestown Timeline

PBS - Secrets of the Dead





NY State Educational Standards, Social Studies:


Standard 1: History of the United States and New York

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

1.1  Explore the meaning of American culture by identifying the key ideas, beliefs, and patterns of behavior, and traditions that help define it and unite all American

1.3  Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural, and religious developments in New York State and United States history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.

1.4  The skills of historical analysis include the ability to: explain the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence; understand the concept of multiple causation; understand the importance of changing and competing interpretations of different historical developments.

Students will:

• Consider the sources of historic documents, narratives, or artifacts and evaluate their reliability

• Understand how different experiences, beliefs, values, traditions, and motives cause individuals and groups to interpret historic events and issues from different perspectives




Prior Lesson on Primary Source Documents -

Hereprimary source documents.notebook






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