This teaching tool centers on Henrich Miller, a German-born printer and publisher in 18th-century Pennsylvania. It addresses the value of a free press, the role of the media in the political and civic culture of an emerging nation, the importance of group-specific media for immigrant settlements, the strong influence of religion and faith on people’s private lives and business decisions as well as the complexities of immigration (moving back and forth between two continents, failed business ventures).
Students should gain insights into early American society and first-generation immigrant settlements; learn about religion and the press in an emerging nation; and look at biography as a genre. The jigsaw exercise trains the students’ understanding of chronology and cause and effect. The unit’s deep structure moves along the lines of historical thinking. It starts with collecting context information, moves on to source analysis and ends in a genre evaluation exercise.
[To view the full activity plan and a downloadable version of the Miller biography, open the files at right.]