Lesson Plan: Overview

The Roanoke Mystery

Grade Level: 4th


Academic Standards

Standard 4-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the exploration of the New World.

4-1.4 Explain the exchange of plant life, animal life, and disease that resulted from exploration of the New World, including the introduction of wheat, rice, coffee, horses, pigs, cows, and chickens to the Americas; the introduction of corn, potatoes, peanuts, and squash to Europe; and the effects of such diseases as diphtheria, measles, smallpox, and malaria on Native Americans.

Social Studies Literacy Elements

K. Use texts, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships

P. Locate, gather, and process information from a variety of primary and secondary sources including maps

Historical Background Notes

See Colonial America Background Notes.


Lesson Plans

Fun to teach, The Roanoke Mystery introduces students to the significance of early exploration of America. Why were the British trying to colonize the New World anyway, and what did it take to be a successful colony? The Roanoke Mystery comprises two lessons taking three class periods to complete (55 minutes each). Finding Roanoke and Return to Roanoke examine how spatial interaction between cultures and how human and physical characteristics of place influenced colonial settlement. Both lessons introduce students to the exciting world of historical interrogation as they examine primary source documents, constructing sound historical interpretations of what they think happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Teacher Reflections

In our study of Roanoke Island we discussed many different theories on what happened to the colonists. I enjoyed teaching The Roanoke Mystery because no one alive really knows what happened to the colonists. My students were very upset when the various lessons on Roanoke Island concluded.

I think I can improve instruction by comparing the Roanoke story to other historical mysteries. Next year, I will integrate study of Roanoke with language arts curriculum by reading more mysteries and having students write their own mysteries.

Student Assessment

Assessment for The Roanoke Mystery is performance-based. Teachers can rate group presentations and student journal entries on standards-based criteria according to the following rubric. Student performance can be rated as Unacceptable, Needs Work, Good, or Excellent. Teacher comments may include rationale for marks and suggestions for improvement.

Examples of Students Work


Katie Redmon
Greer, South Carolina