Recovering Under-examined Histories to Build Community Today

Teacher: Sarah Robbins

Overview:   This exercise is a short piece of response-writing to Diane Glancy’s Pushing the Bear, whose central topic is the Cherokee Removal. Created for college students, but adaptable to any grade, students respond online to a discussion board before class about a text that questions the lessons of the Removal in the nineteenth century.  Posting responses before class and then reading and discussing them in class emphasize the collaboration essential to creating community.  Discussing these responses also raises issues about how local, contemporary communities redefine themselves in relation to other communities.  In this particular instance, students began to see that “northwest Georgia” has been shaped by its roots in Cherokee culture. Click here for extended version of this lesson with student artifact and teacher reflection.


  • Diane Glancy’s Pushing the Bear.
  • Online discussion board membership.

Time:  One to two hours.

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Assign reading.
  2. Post response-writing prompt: “What are some things about the way the book presents historical events of the Removal that have changed how you feel about the Trail of Tears?”
  3. Ask students to read their peers responses during class.
  4. Whole-class discussion, drawing from individual student reponses.
  5. Introduce and underscore principles to use for shared learning as well as key elements in the course content.

Evaluation:  Formative assessment.

Click here for extended version of this lesson with student artifact and teacher reflection.


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