It’s a question that scholars are still debating. Our Middle School students watched a History Channel video of the same title, which presents many, but not all, of the claims. Based on notes they took and classroom discussions, students chose the discoverer they wanted to represent. This is the first time in over 15 years that no Middle Schooler chose to represent Christopher Columbus. The students spent two weeks researching, adding information to their notes, creating visual aids such as maps, and preparing a presentation of their evidence. On September 27, the teams of discovery claimants made their cases to classmates, students in 5th and 6th grades, and parents. After extensive note taking, questioning, and discussion, the largest number of 5th & 6th grade students were convinced that the Polynesians were the true discoverers of America. The parents watching were more reluctant to declare a winner, but commented that there were theories they had not heard of before, and that every team gave them a lot to think about.
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