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This lesson plan introduces the practice of using primary sources; where to find primary sources, what they are, how to examine them, and how to construct a context to tell more of the story.
Display personal primary source documents and personal artifacts that reflect something important in your own life. Display the artifact and instruct the students to use the Primary Source Analysis Tool to record their observations of the artifact. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Primary Sources to focus and prompt analysis and discussion.
Students may place a value on the artifact from a reviewer and owner perspective. This leads to a discussion of what brings value, as well as meaning, to an artifact. Help students to distinguish between how an owner would place personal value on the artifact from how a reviewer would place value on the artifact.
Some suggestions for personal artifacts are:
Ask students to bring their own personal artifacts and display them for their group of three students. Teams of three review each artifact supplied by team members and interpret them to determine information about the owners' personalities and lifestyles. Each team works together to complete the Primary Source Analysis Tool, answering additional questions from the teacher's guide to Analyzing Primary Sources at your discretion.
When the groups' Primary Source Analysis Tools charts are complete, the reviewers share their results with the class. The artifact owner constructs the context that reveals more of the story. Students may place a value on the artifact from a reviewer and owner perspective. This may continue the discussion of what brings value to an artifact.
Introduce students to a selection of primary sources from the Primary Source Sets. As a whole class, students complete a Primary Source Analysis Tool. The students analyze the primary sources, recording their thoughts on the Primary Source Analysis Tool. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher’s guide Analyzing Primary Sources to focus their work, and select additional questions to focus and prompt a whole class discussion of their analysis.
Discuss the value of the historical primary sources with the class, returning as needed to the previous discussion of their own artifacts. Students may write a reflection connecting their own artifacts to their study of the historical primary sources.
The lesson may be extended using the following activities:
Use direct quotations of phrases and vocabulary from a novel, short story or non-fiction piece that they have read. Students answer the 5-Ws:
Students attempt to match these "answers" to both the literary work and the primary source. You may want to write a beginning verse together, and then have them work in teams of three to add one or two more verses. Be sure to instruct them in the skills of capitalization and punctuation for poetry.
Suggestions for writing the poem:
The final creative activity involves arranging the quoted phrases and individual words into a verse or series of verses that link the artifacts to the literary work.
Evaluate student participation and products according to criteria specified by the teacher or generated with the class.
Mary A. Ritter