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Yesterday is HISTORY! 

Now this might seem like a cliche for a history teacher, but in some cases this can be very true. January 6th, 2020 was such a day. So how can a teacher use current events to create a meaningful lesson.

  1. Create Context: A current event is a great opportunity to reinforce the concepts that have been taught in a course.
  2. Create a Timeline of Events: Look at the events that came before and place on a timeline.
  3. Continuity & Change: Explain that events have ALWAYS been reported to people, however the delivery has changed. In many cases social media is the first means of communication.
  4. Evaluate the Source and Identify Bias: Now more than ever it is important for students to evaluate the source of information. Is a source valid? Does it have a political bias? Does it have a history of accurate reporting of major events.
  5. Identify Perspectives and Create a Political Spectrum: With most issues in America, people fall at various points on the political spectrum. Identify the extreme and moderate positions.
  6. Analyze Primary Sources: This is a great way to have students read, analyze, and interpret primary sources.
  7. Create a Homework Assignment: An assignment to help students gain a better understanding is always a great idea.

Warm-up Questions: These questions can allow each student to write down thoughts and ideas. These questions will also help student participate in class discussion.

  1. EXPLAIN how you learned about yesterday’s events in Washington DC. DESCRIBE your reaction as you learned of the events. Interpret the significance of the events. (answers will include social media – twitter, instagram, facebook, tictok, snapchat, TV news, discussion with others, texts.)
  2. When studying an event in history, primary sources are invaluable. In order to fully understand the impact of the event, LIST TWO or THREE forms of primary sources that will be most beneficial to future Americans when trying to understand the events of yesterday.
  3. Explain the term “political spectrum.” Select THREE different perspectives on yesterday’e events and explain how each person would feel. In your answer include: Protesters, Congress, and YOU (Other groups to consider: professional athletes, police, world leaders) 

Homework Assignment 

  1. Select TWO statements by former presidents (Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carer) on the events of Juanuary 6th. 
  2. CUT AND PASTE into document. 
  3. READ and ANALYZE the statement
  4. Write a 4 sentence summary of the message of the statement.

Primary Sources

In the course of teaching there are times when analyzing a current event can be very useful to a curriculum. With the storming of the Capitol, all former presidents released statements. Students can compare and contrast the statements.

CNN Article The four living former presidents deride US Capitol breach in pointed statements

Posted on Twitter @TheBushCenter

Former President George W. Bush released the following statement Wednesday after the events in Washington, D.C. in which a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rioted at the U.S Capitol, interrupting the affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic.

I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.

Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.

May God continue to bless the United States of America.”

“Today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country.

The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another.

The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.

The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.

I have always believed that America is made up of good, decent people. I still do.

If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Posted in a tweet by @CarterCenter

“Rosalynn and I are troubled by the violence at the U.S. Capitol today. This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation. Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must. We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.”

Posted in a tweet by 

History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise. 

For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth – that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo. 

Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America. 

I’ve been heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today. Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who’ve refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably. We need more leaders like these – right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal.

Students could also analyze the responses of President Trump and President-Elect Biden

Other ideas

Protest in America Storming of Capitol Hill and other protests throughout history: American Revolution and the Boston Massacre, Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter.