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Teacher's Guide for APPLESEEDS Growing Up in the American Revolution

October 2000

This guide was prepared by Mary Shea, Ph.D. Dr. Mary Shea teaches undergraduate and graduate reading courses at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.

The article "The Wigmaker's Boy and The Boston Massacre" offers an opportunity for students to examine how minor conflicts escalate into major ones when open communication, explanations, and civility are not used to diffuse the tension and settle the dispute fairly. Students would have already been introduced to the concept and practice of resolving conflicts or problems through communication rather than violence. They would also be involved in a study of the colonial period in American history.

Students will read the article "The Wigmaker's Boy and The Boston Massacre." The focus will be on examining the origins of conflict (how one event contributed to the next more intense conflict with increasing potential for injury) and determining how alternative solutions may have been established at each step.

On chart paper, the teacher will record the sequence of conflict points in the story and more appropriate solutions as these are identified by students.

Students will be asked to examine and discuss the generalizations about both sides that developed as a result of the Boston Massacre - the element of truth and point of exaggeration in these generalizations.

Higher Level Thinking Skills:
Analysis, Interpretation, and Application.

October 2000 issue of APPLESEEDS, note taking sheet, and journals.

  1. Ask students, Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conflict with a friend and wondered how this ever got started?
  2. Have students describe some of these experiences and the results that followed.
  3. Tell students that the article they'll be reading today in APPLESEEDS describes how a minor incident led to a major crisis that cost lives and planted the seeds for a revolution.
Teacher Input:
  1. Introduce the article "The Wigmaker's Boy and The Boston Massacre." Ask students to share images that the word massacre conjures up in their minds. Establish that it involves the murder of a large number of people. Ask for predictions about the article based on the title. Ask the students who they felt a wigmaker in Boston in 1776 would have as customers? Explain that a wigmaker also groomed wigs much like a hairdresser today works with a customer's real hair on his / her head. Explain that the wigmaker's boy was a worker in the shop.
  2. Discuss the word apprentice and the term Lobster as it was used in a derogatory way when referring to British soldiers. Discuss how derogatory words, used to name people, stimulate very negative feelings and reactions.
  3. Read the first section to students - page 10 through the third paragraph on page 11. Finish with, "He's mean!" the boy complained to his friend, Bartholomew.
  4. Help students clearly identify the problem. (Captain John Goldfinch is slow in paying his bill so the apprentice who shaved him must wait for the money he's promised. Edward, another apprentice in the wigmaker's shop, hollers at the Captain when he sees him on the street. This most likely embarrasses Captain Goldfinch who doesn't stop to explain that he has settled his account.) On chart paper, the teacher will record the first conflict identified by the students to begin the sequence of the chain of events.
Conflict 1:

Appropriate Solution:

Conflict 2:

Appropriate Solution:


Guided Practice:
  1. Have students discuss with a partner what they feel would have been an appropriate solution. The teacher will record responses under the first conflict.
  2. Have students read the next section describing the interaction between the apprentices and Hugh White. End with - White jabbed his bayonet at the boys.
  3. Have students work with a partner to define the problem and a more appropriate solution. Have partners share with the whole class. Students will decide on the wording for describing the second conflict and solution. The teacher will record their responses.
  4. Continue the procedure to identify each next level of the conflict:
    Third: The apprentices ran away . . . they threw snowballs.
    Fourth: The noise brought . . . Soon more soldiers arrived.
    Fifth: Edward went home . . . wounded six.
Have students read the last paragraph. Have students identify the conclusions that each side developed about the other because of these events. Is any part of their conclusion true? What is? Why? Is any part exaggerated? How?

The teacher will assess students' ability to:
  1. set appropriate predictions to guide their reading.
  2. read for specific information that addresses the purpose set for reading.
  3. work well with a partner to identify each level of conflict as it unfolds in the story.
  4. work well with a partner to determine a more appropriate solution to each level of conflict.
  5. understand how such situations lead to negative and destructive generalizations about groups of people.
  6. express opinions and provide logical rationale for ideas.
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