Lesson Plan: “Minnesota History: Putting the Puzzle Together Piece by Piece”

Written By: Nancy Jacobson
Grade Level: In MN the state social studies standards say to teach Minnesota Studies in grade six, but this lesson could be adapted for any age group.

Time Allotment

One 50 min. class period to introduce the lesson and decide on the “Puzzle Pieces” for each student or pairs of students. Second class period used to disperse Glogster login information and tinker with the tools. This would keep the interest high for the project. Several days would be needed to do the research needed to gather the necessary information, graphics and videos. At least two more class periods for students to create their Glogs and to practice presenting them. Depending on how many students you have, you may choose to have the students present their “MN History Puzzle Pieces” to the class so that all begin to see the bigger picture surrounding Minnesota’s history. If you choose not to have students do presentations, it will cut down on the class time needed, but add to the individual teacher’s time to view and correct each Glog. In summary, six days at least for the creation of the Glog and then additional days if the students present them in class. Time allotment will also depend on your students’ Internet search skills. This may be a skill you need to teach or reteach in order for them to be successful. I have provided some information to help you with that piece.


This lesson is intended to be an exciting and creative way to explore Minnesota history and to share it. The teacher can make the decision if students should work alone or in pairs. This project is a practical one to do with partners. Each student or pair receives a topic and is responsible for developing two or three questions delving into Minnesota’s past on that particular topic. The questions should answer the what, how and why it happened. Using search skills and evaluating their sources (Internet, books, articles, etc.), they find the evidence needed to identify possible answers to their questions. Using this information they draw conclusions and create a “Glog” using GlogsterEDU. This will serve as their presentation to their peers.

Downloadable Content
Lesson Plan

Subject Matter

Subject areas include social studies, reading - language arts and technology.

Learning Objectives

After students have the topic (puzzle piece) they are to explore, the first task is to develop at least three questions focused on what happened in Minnesota’s past and how and why it happened. The students should be able to discover multiple sources and different kinds of historical evidence related to their questions. They will also analyze their sources’ credibility and identify possible answers. Their data will provide them with the evidence to draw their own conclusions and finally create their Glog which will be their primary tool in presenting their findings.

Media Components - Video/Web

Glogster EDU: A complete educational solution

Locating the Mississippi: Landscape, Nature, and National Territoriality
at the Mississippi Headwaters Written by Rich Heyman
American Quarterly, Volume 62, Number 2, June 2010, pp. 303-333 (Article)
Published by the Johns Hopkins University Press
DOI: 10.1353/aq.0.0137 (See attached PDF on flashdrive)

MN Department of Natural Resources Itasca State Park
URL: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html

"Cradle of the Father Waters" - 1938 video clip available on YouTube.com

Minnesota Legacy Productions(These are links that are clickable through the downloadable Lesson Plan found in the Overview section)
Prairie Public Broadcasting – Itasca State Park
URL: http://www.prairiepublic.org/television/minnesota-legacy-productions/itasca-state-park
Other MN Legacy Productions (videos) that could be used:
Runestone Museum
Phelps Mill

Minnesota Historical Society: History Education MN
Minnesota History Topics
Researching History: What Are the Steps?

Itasca State Park - Wikipedia
Where to Go – Explore Minnesota
Itasca State Park – National Register Listing
University of MN Human History|College of Biological Sciences
Visit the Itasca State Park in Minnesota
Our World-Class State Park System | Conservation Minnesota
Photos Itasca State Park
Photos from PhotoBucket of Itasca State Park


To view this lesson on Glogster EDU, you will need a projector hooked up to your computer and a screen or whiteboard to project it on. You also want your audio hooked up for the presentation. You are welcome to use my Glogs. The URLs are listed below: For the Introduction to the project the URL is www.campergirl.edu.glogster.com//mn-history-assignment For my example of using Itasca State Park as a topic go to www.campergirl.edu.glogster.com/mn-history-itasca-state-park/ Most of the materials I have listed above under Media Components. Ideally each student should have their own computer or laptop. If you do not have an EDUcator Premium account on Glogster EDU, you can register for an EDUcator Free account by going to www.gloster.com and clicking on the green “I WANT IT” button. This will take you to their pricing page. I strongly recommend the purchase, as there truly is not a similar tool available at their prices. To sign up for a free 30 day trial scroll down towards the bottom and click on the words “Free Version PLUS a 30 Day Premium Trial.” Glogster: The Visual Network Player App by Glogster for the iPad only has the ability to view and not create. Hopefully it will not be long and there will be an app out. If you have access to the MN Volunteer magazine put out by the MN DNR, it would be an excellent written resource for young people to use. One could also scour the media center/library for any materials on MN History. If using images from a book or magazine, you will need a scanner hooked up to a computer the students can use to file the downloaded images. Students can take their notes on note cards, paper or via the computer. There is a wide assortment of MN history topics on the MN Historical Society web page. See the link above under Media Component.

Teacher Preparation

First of all you will want to familiarize yourself with creating a Glog. After you have signed up for an account there are video tutorials on their site to guide you. When I introduce my students to a new Web 2.0 tool, I usually allow them time to “play around” on their own first to familiarize themselves with all the bells and whistles. Most students catch on quite fast and are eager to help others. It is extremely helpful for your students to be able to go to a web page created by their teacher with all the necessary links for a project available to them. If you do not have your own homepage, may I suggest creating a page on portaportal.com. It has proven itself to be a tool students love that makes their lives and yours easier in the computer lab! You are welcome to visit myportal. Just click on the link above and on the right-hand side of the web page there is a space for a guest to login. Simply type “njacobson” and it will take you to my portaportal site. I have bookmarked GlogsterEDU, MN Historical Society and PBS Our MN Legacy sites. If you plan to use this for a lesson involving MN history, I strongly recommend you visit the MN Historical Society’s page on history topics to decide if they are suitable for your students. It could easily be adapted for United States history, which is an MN Academic Standard in Social Studies for grade 5. This is also the case for North Dakota. At this time it would also be a good idea to ask your media specialist to compile a list of books that she thinks would help the students in their searches. Perhaps the books could be kept on a cart and stored right in your classroom.

Introductory Activities

  1. Before introducing this lesson we would have just completed a series of lessons on MN’s state symbols, listened to the state song, and created something using the symbols.

  2. Hand out a sheet of paper and tell the class to try and remember as many of the state symbols and such that they just learned about. Tell them to write them down in a list. Inform them that this is not a graded piece.

  3. Before class begins you should have open on your teacher desktop or laptop the Glog, “MN History Assignment”. It is now time to introduce the video to the class. Say, “We have just finished our study of MN’s state symbols, so as you watch this short video clip put a check mark by each of the symbols you listed on your paper. Jot down a note if you have a question or concern about any of the pictures shown. Put your pencil down when you are finished so I know when to move on.”

  4. Click on the play arrow in the frame of the first video (under the assignment note). Once the video has begun, click the small arrowed square in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to enlarge the viewing screen. Adjust your volume. “Hail Minnesota” plays in the background throughout the clip. Many times I will play a video clip twice. Your students will tell you.

  5. Have a show of hands as to how many of the symbols they actually had on their paper that matched the ones on the clip. Go over any scenes that there may be a question about.

  6. Tell them that you have created their assignment using a Web 2.0 tool called Glogster and what you have created is called a Glog. Be sure to show your enthusiasm and excitement! Let them know that it will be their task to complete their assignment as a Glog also. “Each student will receive their own Glogster account. We will be using it throughout the school year.” Draw their attention to the note, “Assignment: Create a Glog about a topic in Minnesota History.”

  7. Point above the red box and say, “Each one of you (or pairs) will pick a piece of the puzzle to Minnesota history. As a class, when you have completed your tasks, we will come together to watch and listen to all the Glogs as we put our puzzle of Minnesota’s history together.”


2. Paper and pencils

3. Teacher computer hooked up to projector to view and listen to the video clip on GlogsterEDU. This could be done while the students are writing down the symbols.

4. GlogsterEDU MN History Assignment
Keep the video clip open, as you may need it to go over any scenes in question.
6. Steer their attention to the yellow sticky note on the Glog. Draw their attention to the red letters above the red box and all the puzzle pieces on the Glog.

Learning Activities

  1. Now is the time to go over the nuts and bolts of the project with your students. Begin by elaborating on each of the numbered tasks in the red box. Fill in the gaps with examples.
  2. “I will take you to a web site that will help you narrow down the topic. You will also have a chance to take a look at a Glog I have begun with Itasca State Park as my topic.”
  3. “My questions were: What and where is Itasca State Park? Why was it chosen as MN’s first state park? & how did it all come together?”. “I must tell you that a felt like a super sleuth as I did my research and found historical evidence on something that may shock you!”
  4. "Once you have narrowed down your topic, it is time to give a lot of thought to your questions. Remember to ask what, why and how questions to best share the history of your Minnesota topic.”
  5. “When you believe you have your questions nailed down, please raise your hand so that I can look them over with you.”
  6. “Remember to use your good searching skills.” (If you have not gone over this with your students, I would suggest using Google’s Search Education on the web. This would involve numerous class periods, but in the end I believe it is well worth it.) “You are welcome to use the library books on the cart as well.”
  7. Remind students that their searches for the answers to their questions should include images, as well as text. They may even find a video clip. It is important that they give credit to the sites or authors whose work they use in their research. I use the site EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator which is fast and easy.
  8. The students will need at least two to three 50 minute class periods to gather and evaluate their evidence. They will need to take notes either on paper/note cards or use a Word doc. They will also need time to sort through their sources to find the evidence and analyze it so that they can draw some conclusions to their questions.
  9. You may find it useful to set up appointments with students once they claim they are “done.” This way you can determine if the proper steps were taken and if their questions are indeed answered!

Culminating Activity

  1. Give students the code they will use to register and walk them through the registration process using your interactive white board.
  2. Allow time for them to explore the site; look at glogs posted on the Glogpedia, discover the Tools and use them. I believe 15-20 minutes is adequate to acquaint themselves with the site. Hand out the Requirements and Rubric sheets & tell students to refer to them often and put them in their folders.
  3. By the end of two more class periods you should have some students that are finishing up. It is my practice to have students do a peer critique on each other’s project. A checklist with the requirements listed can be made up for this if you wish to go that way. As the teacher, make the time to view each Glog with the student narrating it.
  4. Give students one more class period to finish up. Those that are completed can serve as “Techies” and help students that require it. This frees up your time to be viewing the Glogs.
  5. Plan to begin presentations on the 4th day. It may be sooner or later for you depending on your students. For those students that are not done, I tell them they need to make time over their recess time or plan to stay after school to complete their Glog. You want them listening and watching during the presentations.
  6. Students should be taking notes while their peers are presenting their Glog. You can point out important points as the presentations are given.
  7. Post each of the Glogs to your Homepage so parents and others may view them.

Cross-Curricular Activity

  1. One activity may be for students to choose one of the places mentioned in the MN history Glogs and plan a family trip using their math skills to calculate the costs involved and the mileage.
  2. This could also tie in with an art project. Use your creativity!
  3. Perhaps there s a historic place close enough to arrange for a field trip. If you have the cameras available, tie in a lesson on photography and have students take photos while on the trip.
  4. Another possible area would be geography and mapping. This could be done using technology or doing it by hand. The places mentioned in the Glogs would be put to a map.

Community Connections

1) A visit to your county’s museum would be a fun and interesting trip to get the students excited about history.
2) Invite elderly community members to come to your classroom and talk to the students about their past. Have a question and answer time and perhaps students could make invitations and plan refreshments.
3) Invite your local newspaper reporter to visit your class while they are in the midst of creating and presenting their blogs.