Christopher Columbus Lesson

Gathering Strong Evidence

This is the first of two lessons that teach research and comprehension skills around the topic of the Christopher Columbus. The second will be published in a week. Also, don’t forget to have students cite their sources in MLA formatAPA format, or Chicago style.

Photo Source: “I’m Christopher Columbus” by Claus Rebler. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Original image was cropped.


In this lesson, you will learn how to cite strong and thorough text evidence when making an argument.

Evidence and the Argumentative Essay

Listen to the sound clip below:

Gathering evidence for an argument essay:

  • argument essays require you to take a position
  • research and evidence establish your position
  • evidence should be credible, relevant, and sufficient
  • evidence should come from or consider multiple perspectives

Columbus Day Prompt

Throughout the lesson, you will be researching and citing evidence for the following prompt:

Should Columbus Day be a national holiday?

This prompt requires you to take a stance about Columbus Day. To create a strong argument, you will need to collect some background information about Christopher Columbus to decide whether or not he merits his own holiday.

Varied Research and Evidence

When you begin to collect evidence for your argument, it’s important to use a variety of sources, that represent many viewpoints. One way to do this is by using both primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources can help with your argument because they reflect common beliefs, perceptions, and actions of a person living in the time period you are studying.

Secondary sources will give you an analysis or interpretation about a specific point in time. Using a variety of sources will help you gather a better understanding of the topic. It will also show your readers that you have considered many perspectives.

Finding Secondary Source Evidence

As you look at different sources, you’ll come across very different pieces of evidence to support your argument.

Read the article Columbus Controversy from What evidence can you pull from this resource to support the argument for and against a Columbus holiday?

Secondary Source Evidence Analysis

Listen to the sound clip below:

Evidence against Columbus Day:

  • cruel treatment and enslavement of Native Americans
  • European diseases brought by Columbus killed large portions of the Native population
  • Columbus was not the first European in the New World

Continuing Your Research

When searching for evidence, remember to vary your sources. You just read an analysis of Columbus from a modern perspective. Discovering how Columbus felt personally, and in his own words is valuable information you can use in forming your argument as well.

Read the the entries for October 13, October 14, and October 16 from Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal. What evidence can you pull from this source?

Columbus Journal Explanation

Columbus’s journal is an example of a primary source. Based on the entries you read, you can see how he felt about the Native Americans. This information can be used in an argument for or against Columbus Day.

He describes his interactions as peaceful, but mentions that he’s taking several of them captive to bring back to Spain. He also comments on their apparent lack of intelligence.

Note Card Method

While you research, you should be keeping a list of evidence, as well as the source of the evidence you found. A good way to do this to use the note card system.

For each piece of evidence you find and may use in your paper, create a notecard with a title for the evidence and the source number. See the example notecard below and hover your mouse over the text to read an explanation of each part of the card.

Keeping Track of Sources

Along with your evidence note cards, you should also be keeping track of each source you are using. This helps you remember where all of your information came from, and it can help you locate the source again in the future. Look at the example source tracking sheet below.

Hover your mouse over the icons on the text for explanations of how to set up this information.


In this lesson, you learned how to gather strong evidence from a variety of sources.


Find free citing tools for MLA format at! We also have guides to help anyone make APA citations for books, websites, and other popular sources.