Source Sorting: Introduction to Types of Sources

10 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT sort examples of possible sources into the categories of Primary and Secondary.

Big Idea

Finding good sources can be tricky and students have little experience with identifying them. This lesson is fun introduction to learning the difference between the two and begin the task of sorting out which are primary and secondary.


5 minutes

Before students are asked to work with sources it is good to give them some ideas on what a source is. The easiest way to start a discussion is with a newspaper, I like to use a sports article. I read it aloud and then talk about the writer/reporters job. We then determine how they got their information. We decide whether the reporter went to the game or heard about the game from someone else to write the article.

It easy then to explain and discuss the source of the information. I explain that if the reporter was at the game and saw the events themselves they are a Primary Source. If they heard about what happened or interviewed someone, then they are a Secondary Source.

It is after this that as a class we come up with our own working definition for the vocabulary words. I then write this on the white board or on a sentence strip.



Source Sort:

10 minutes

To identify and understand different types of sources we play a sorting game. Playing this game will allow students to get up and kinesthetically practice with all the types of sources that are available.  I start by going through the different types of sources that they will be sorting. You might have to explain what a few are if the prior knowledge is not there. I call out the source and as a class we decide which type of source it is. I like to do this visually on the white board. I make a T-Chart with Primary on one side and Secondary on the other. I write the source as we decide where it goes. It does take a lot of guiding and prompting to get the chart correct.

Once the chart is full, we briefly talk about them again and then I ask if they think they could sort them on their own as a challenge. I start the game by wiping away our sources/ answers. I then walk around and give each student a sticky note. I write one type of source on the top and give them out to the students. I ask them not to share their source until its time to play, but I do want them deciding if it is Primary or Secondary. They also have to defend their choice. 

Students then take turns walking to the board and sticking their sticky note to one side of the T-Chart. They can ask the class for help in either placing the source or to help defend their answer. We continue until they are all placed. I then lead them through any corrections and talk about any that might have stumped them.

Sources are important as they begin to research and have to show proof when writing various responses. It is also helpful for them to begin the use of different sources and how they can help strengthen their writing.





5 minutes

To close the lesson, I go over their answers with them from the game. If they had a lot of trouble with deciding I might have them create a T-chart of their own in a notebook or sheet of paper. I then would have them pick three Primary and Secondary to add to their paper.

I will continue to play this game for the next week as we learn more about sources and their uses.