1. “At Council of Salamanca, one of the ‘learned’ men asked Columbus: ‘Is there any one so foolish … as to believe that there are antipodes with their feet opposite to ours: people who walk with their heels upward, and their heads hanging down? That there is a part of the world in which all things are topsy-turvy; where the trees grow with their braches downward, and where it rains, hails, and snows upward? The idea of the roundness of the earth … was the cause of the inventing of this fable….’”

    SOURCE: Irving (1830, p. 63).

  2. “There appeared at this time a remarkable man—Christopher Columbus…. He began to astonish his country men with strange notions about the world. He boldly asserted that it was round, instead of flat; that it went around the sun instead of the sun going around it; and moreover, that day and night were caused by its revolution on its axis. These doctrines the priests denounced as contrary to those of the church. When he ventured to assert that by sailing west, he could reach the East Indies, they questioned not only the soundness of his theory, but that of his intellect.”

    SOURCE: Patton and Lord (1903, p. 12).

  3. “Now, the sailors terror-stricken, became mutinous, and clamored to return. They thought they had sinned in venturing so far from land…. Columbus alone was calm and hopeful; in the midst of these difficulties, he preserved the courage and noble self-control…. His confidence in the success of his enterprise, was not the ideal dream of a mere enthusiast; it was founded in reason, it was based on science. His courage was the courage of one, who, in the earnest pursuit of truth, loses sight of every personal consideration.”

    SOURCE: Patton and Lord (1903, pp. 13-14).

and make it visible. The above class discussion is an example of a formative assessment whereby I tried to probe the thinking of the whole class. I asked students to weigh in on the problem, had them spend time documenting their thinking by writing about it in their journals, and then collected their thinking on the board.

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