To kick off our unit on British colonization, we will begin with a "history mystery." The first section of the book briefly discusses the Roanoke Colony, but knowing my students' love for a good mystery, I thought I would expand on this opportunity with some detective work and a writing assignment.
On the first day of the unit, students were grouped into pairs and received a "dossier of evidence" about the colony in a manila folder. I created each of the documents to show a particular event in the history of the colony. With the exception of the names on the ship's log, all of the documents are fictional and I wrote them to show a particular moment in the sequence of the story based on true accounts. (Please keep this in mind if you use the documents yourself!)
The students were asked to go through the dated materials, order them by date and use their timeline sheet to create a pieced-together narrative of the events. This took 1-2 class periods depending on the reading abilities of the students. Once they had a sequence of events, they then used the template to create a narrative essay of what occurred. This essay should be fact-based in part according to the documents, but the students were given freedom with the last section to make a hypothesis about what happened to the people of the colony.
Below are some images of student work, as well as image versions of the documents: