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[Detail] Major-General Zachary Taylor--President of the United States. 1848.

Chronological Thinking: Constructing Timelines

Timelines are useful tools for teaching chronological thinking, but timelines can also be misleading. Students too often fail to consider that the events on the timeline were selected by someone; instead, they conclude that the events listed were indeed the most important events—or perhaps the only significant events—of the period. Creating a timeline of local events related to larger national events can not only reinforce chronological thinking but broaden students' understanding of timelines as constructed documents.

Using a timeline of the American Revolution from your textbook, enlarged so there is ample room to add events, identify events on the timeline that involved Baltimore. Speculate on whether other events related to the colonies’ efforts to gain independence from Britain might have occurred in Baltimore during the Revolution. Then use the "Narrative of Events Which Occurred in Baltimore Town During the Revolutionary War," particularly the primary source documents in the "Appendix," to identify such events. Develop criteria for adding a limited number of these events (10 or 15) to the timeline, apply the criteria to choose events, and add the events to the timeline. This process simulates how all timelines in textbooks, encyclopedias, and other references are constructed.