Classroom Activities

Reconstructing History:
The Wright Brothers' First Flight

Step 2:
Be a Historian

Your teacher will assign you to a classroom group. Your group will use the source documents and your Evidence Evaluation Worksheets to write a historical narrative of the Wrights' flights on December 17, 1903. Be sure to include this information in your historical narrative:
 
 • What did the Wright brothers do on December 17, 1903?
 
 • What did they achieve?
 
 • Describe their historic flights:
- How many flights did they make?
- Who was the pilot?
- How long and how far did they fly?
- Why did they discontinue their flight trials?
- How did the Wrights' document their first flights?
 
Did the members of your group agree on how to tell the story of the Wright brothers' historic flights? Were you able to agree on the "facts" of the story? What evidence did group members find most reliable? Did you find discrepancies in the documents you evaluated? How did you resolve these discrepancies?

In Their Own Words
Three of the documents you examined are accounts written by Orville and/or Wilbur.

• #2 Orville Wright's Diary

• #6 Magazine Article by Wilbur and Orville Wright, "The Wright Brothers' Aeroplane"

• #9 Excerpt of Orville Wright's article, "How We Made the First Flight"

Compare these three accounts of the Wrights' first flight. Are the facts the same? What is the level of detail of each? How were the audiences for the articles different? How does Orville Wright's account in his December 17th diary entry differ from his account written 10 years later ("How We Made the First Flight")? How do you explain theses differences? Which of the accounts do you think is most accurate?


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