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Engaging Students in History: Analyzing Sources and Writing Historic Arguments.

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1 Engaging Students in History: Analyzing Sources and Writing Historic Arguments

2 In many states and districts, teachers and their students are preparing to meet guidelines and take examinations that require close attention to single documents. The educational benefits from such an approach can be numerous: students learn to read closely, to interpret documents in historical context, to ground argument in concrete evidence, and to explicate large historical meanings from primary sources. But perhaps above all, such documents can be a stimulus to the imagination. They can “humanize” history. And once the imagination is engaged, there is no limit to learning. James G. Basker, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. (2004)


4 Primary sources are the direct evidence of a time and place that you are studying – any material (documents, objects, etc.) that was produced by eyewitnesses or participants in an event or historical moment under investigation Secondary sources, in contrast, are interpretations – often generated by scholars – that are based upon the examination of multiple primary sources.

5 Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period. Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can give them a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a past era.

6 1. Engage students 2. Develop critical thinking skills 3. Construct knowledge 4. Defend a thesis in a historical argument

7 Primary sources help students relate in a personal way to events of the past and promote a deeper understanding of history as a series of human events. Because primary sources are snippets of history, they encourage students to seek additional evidence through research. First-person accounts of events helps make them more real, fostering active reading and response

8 Many state standards support teaching with primary sources, which require students to be both critical and analytical as they read and examine documents and objects. Primary sources are often incomplete and have little context. Students must use prior knowledge and work with multiple primary sources to find patterns.

9 In analyzing primary sources, students move from concrete observations and facts to questioning and making inferences about the materials. Questions of creator bias, purpose, and point of view may challenge students’ assumptions

10 Inquiry into primary sources encourages students to wrestle with contradictions and compare multiple sources that represent differing points of view, confronting the complexity of the past.

11 Students construct knowledge as they form reasoned conclusions, base their conclusions on evidence, and connect primary sources to the context in which they were created, synthesizing information from multiple sources.

12 Integrating what they glean from comparing primary sources with what they already know, and what they learn from research, allows students to construct content knowledge and deepen understanding. (National Archives website)

13 Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. 8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. 9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

14 Anchor Standards for Writing Research to Build and Present Knowledge 7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. 9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

15 6.0 CONTENT STANDARD: SOCIAL STUDIES SKILLS AND PROCESSES Topic A.Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies Indicator 1.Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions of text Objectives d. Look back through the text to search for connections between and among ideas e.Make, confirm, or adjust predictions about the text f.Periodically summarize or paraphrase important ideas while reading

16 C3 College, Career & Civic Life for Social Studies State Standards DIMENSION 3 includes the skills students need to analyze information and come to conclusions in an inquiry. These skills focus on gathering and evaluating sources, and then developing claims and using evidence to support those claims.

17 Dimension 3, Gathering and Evaluating Sources By the End of Grade 8:By the End of Grade 12: Individually and with others, students construct compelling questions, and … D3.1.6-8. Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection. D3.1.9-12. Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection. D3.2.6-8. Evaluate the credibility of a source by determining its relevance and intended use. D3.2.9-12. Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.

18 D2.His.11.9-12. Critique the usefulness of historical sources for a specific historical inquiry based on their maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose D2.His.16.9-12. Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past. D2.His.17.9-12. Critique the central arguments in secondary works of history on related topics in multiple media in terms of their historical accuracy

19 “Thinking and Acting” Like a Historian When Historians think and act, they…  Construct arguments using claims and evidence from multiple sources  Construct explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples, and details with relevant information and data  Present arguments and explanations to others outside the classroom using print and oral technologies and digital technologies  Critique the arguments and explanations for credibility Copyright @ 2012 by Maryland State Department of Education, Modified from C3

20  Students sources of information (primary & secondary) to write persuasive arguments.

21 ENGAGE THE STUDENTS  Provide historic context by reading or sharing a secondary source.  Explain to the students that they will be using several documents to address a compelling question.  Use a map, broadside, poem, political cartoon, or journal entry to hook the students’ attention.  Target the inquiry with a compelling question.

22 Compelling questions focus on enduring issues and concerns….and unresolved issues that require students to construct arguments in response. “Was the American Revolution revolutionary?” Where is the balance between personal freedoms and the common good?

23 Focus on descriptions, definitions, and processes that require students to construct arguments in response. They guide the development of an inquiry into a compelling question: “Does the second amendment support ‘stand your ground?“

24  Teachers and/or students collect relevant and sometimes conflicting primary sources that provide intrigue.  Students do an initial read and analysis individually and prepare notes and evidence for discussions in small groups.

25 Sourcing o What is the text? o Who created it and when? Close Reading and Asking Supporting Questions o What does the text say explicitly? o What claim does the author/creator make? o What evidence does the author/creator make? o What is the author’s/creator’s perspective? o What is its purpose? o Does this text seem credible? Why or why not? Contextualizing o What else was going on at the historic time this source was created? o What else was going on during this time (historic setting)? o How did the historic setting influence the creation of the text? Corroborating o Where do the multiple texts agree and disagree? o Which texts are more reliable? o Which are the best texts for answering the compelling question?

26  Students will work together in small groups and share their interpretations of the compelling question citing documents as evidence. Supportive questions may be addressed at this time.  Multiple interpretations can emerge and may or may not be accepted by all.


28  Formulate an argument/opinion that answers the compelling question citing evidence from the sources: When you write an opinion piece/argument, remember:  Reasoning used in building an argument should be logical and clear.  Arguments should have a beginning, middle, and end; beginning with author’s claim.  Cite evidence from multiple sources.  Some arguments can include an opposing or alternative opinion (younger students will need support to identify this element).

29  It engages students  It fosters higher level thinking skills  It cultivates the relevancy of history  It provides another way to assess student understanding  Connects C3 to CCSS




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