Once the students are familiar with this basic material from the textbooks, the teacher can give them a briefing sheet. This briefing sheet has three main purposes: to introduce the students to their inquiry, to encourage an enthusiasm for the work, and to provide them with an ultimate goal—the production of their own substantiated account of the arrival of the Mayflower and the decision to settle in Plymouth. The briefing sheet enables the students to focus on the instructions, to which they can return if necessary; the teacher works through the instructions with the class, clarifying, checking understanding, and reinforcing them as necessary.

Source 1: An extract taken from William Bradford’s personal journal, finished in 1650. Bradford was one of the leaders of the English Separatists whom we now call the Pilgrims.

Having arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed God who had delivered them. They had no friends to welcome them and no inns to refresh their weather beaten bodies; no houses to go to for food. When St. Paul (in the bible) was shipwrecked the barbarians were kind to him and his friends but the barbarians here when they met with the Separatists and their friends were readier to fill their sides full of arrows. And it was winter, and they knew the winters here to be subject to fierce storms, and dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. They could only see a desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men—and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not. What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and his Grace?

Source 2: “The Mayflower on Her Arrival in Plymouth Harbor” by William Formsby Halsall. Painted in Massachusetts in 1882.

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