Lesson Plan

An Empire in the East? The Philippine Annexation Debate

Common Core Aligned, Jignsawed, Primary Source Analysis Lesson Plan
Chris C.
Classroom teacher
Concordia International School Shanghai
Pudong, China
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Social Studies

Students will be able to...

Determine key attitudes toward empire in late nineteenth century United States, and the underlying tenants of these attitudes

Create a historical argument concerning beliefs present in late nineteenth century United States that allowed for the acceptance of imperialism by synthesizing primary and secondary sources.

Guiding Question:

What attitudes and beliefs among influential Americans drove the United States to adopt an Asian empire through the annexation of the Philippines, and what attitudes and beliefs provided the strongest arguments to oppose expansion?

Social Studies
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Lesson Preparation

Free, Paid

Overview:  By using primary source documents students will learn of the varied positions held by influential Americans, including newspaper editors and political cartoonists, concerning whether or not the United States should build an Asian empire. These positions are most clearly seen shortly before, during, and after the ratification of the Treaty of Paris (1898). The treaty’s language annexed the Philippines as United States territory. 

Additionally, students will articulate their own arguments concerning attitudes toward annexation, supported by textual evidence based on analysis of primary source documents, in their formal discussion on Day 2. An optional paragraph writing assignment allows students to demonstrate their abilities to articulate arguments in written form.

Time: 150-180 minutes or three sessions

All Resources and Materials are on this wikispaces.

Inquiry-Based Approach Support

Students as Historians in Training Approach Support

Jigsaw Lesson Support

Lesson Primary Sources (PDFs)

Lesson Resources

If you need to set up EtherPad for student colaboration it is easy to do, and only take a minute. Click here.

- Choose home groups for the students, with each group consisting of seven students.

- Assign a student from each home group to each one of the seven documents, matching them with the expert group for that document.

- Either assign a sheet of butcher paper, or create an electronic document such as Google Doc or Ether Pad (if available), for each home group.

- Print enough sets of primary source documents (PSDs) so that each student has one PSD. These PSDs can be provided electronically or on paper.

- Print one graphic organizer for each student, being careful to assign the political cartoon graphic organizer to those students who have the Political Cartoon handout as their PSD. These organizers can be provided electronically or on paper.

Student Instructions

If using EtherPad studnets will need to download the etherpad software (for free). Please direct students here.

2 Day 1

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Students start in their home groups, where instructions for the activity take place.

- Explain the purpose of the lesson

- Explain that each student will move from the home group to an expert group to analyze their particular document, and then move back to their home group to share their learning and learn from other students in the home group.

If students need context, this is the time to use the American Imperialism Context PowerPoint. It is available here as a PDF.

Students move to expert groups to begin their document analysis.

- Each expert group is built around one document.

In expert groups students discuss and analyze their document, filling out the graphic organizer either by hand or digitally

- Students return to their home group.

3 Day 2

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Students share their expert group learnings with their home groups by summarizing to their home groups what they learned of their PSD.

- This task may be accomplished through the use of butcher paper or through the use of a Google Doc (if yours is a Google School) or Ethernet Pad (http://etherpad.org/), one per home group.

In home groups students prepare for the Class Discussion by discussing evidence in the documents that they can use, and by building their arguments concerning the Guiding Question (prompt).

4 Day 3

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Free, Paid

The third day's focus is dedicated to the Class Discussion (alternative noted below), which the teacher starts with the prompt, “What are the arguments for territorial expansion, and opposing expansion?”

During the discussion, the teacher facilitates by asking guiding questions, such as:

Who wrote this?

What is the author’s perspective?

Why was it written?

When was it written?

Where was it written?

What claims does the author make?

What evidence does the author use?

What language (words, phrases, images, symbols) does the author use to persuade the document’s audience?

How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?

The teacher (or student-assistant) writes bullet points of key terms and ideas on the board for the whole class to see.

Using Padlet with the columns activated (so that the informations can be organized without comments overlapping) record the three attitudes and three beliefs, that most strongly argued for annexation, and the three attitudes and three beliefs that most strongly mitigated against annexation. 

- This Padlet information can be used by students at home tonight should you wish to extend this ativity to a writing portion.

- I urge you to do so, because the students are not perfectly prepped to write powerful pieces while also reflecting on their learning.

Larger classes sizes can use the paragraph assignment here as an alternative to the Class Discussion. 

Students can use the third day class time working with each other on home groups to craft their paragraphs (rubric provided in "Resources" page of wiki)

5 Extension Activity - Research

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Students can research primary or secondary source documents that would support one side or another of the argument over anexation.  

- You may want to direct their search to sites such as the US Department of State Office of the Historian’s Philippine-American War webpage, or Southern Connecticut State University’s libguide dedicated to the Philippine American War.

- For additional research please direct students to Library of Congress or the National Archives.  

For you, the teacher, Stanford History Education Group’s Unit on American Imperialism is an excellent resource for additional lessons.