Were You There or Did Someone Tell You??

23 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT to define and identify firsthand vs secondhand accounts of an historical event.

Big Idea

When evaluating information, students must be able to discern whether or not the reporter was present or was told the information.

My Dilemma: Why Wouldn't The Principal Listen To Me??

15 minutes

When the students enter the room, they will find the Smartboard opened to the "I have a problem screen".  Of course they're all wondering what my problem is so I advance the slides and read them my problem. 

I have the students look at their face partner and discuss why the Principal listened to a boy who always gets in trouble over an awesome teacher like me.  After they both get a chance to share, I let them give me some ideas.  I'm looking for someone to say, "You weren't there."

I get lots of answers- "Sometimes teachers don't see everything kids do, but kids know everything", "Johnny is probably Bob's best friend so knows", but I never get the answer I want. SO, I ask the students to think about perspective and what I SAW and what Johnny SAW and finally they get it.  One of my ESL students wildly raises her hand and says, "YOU WEREN'T THERE!!"  I said, "But I had recess duty last week.  I was outside."  And she says, "But, you didn't see it."  Finally, the question I always ask- "How do you know?  It doesn't say that in the narrative."  And she says, "You weren't there because it says, another teacher told you."

You Gotta Be There

40 minutes

I tell the student that she is correct and that in order for the Principal to KNOW what happened, she needed to talk to someone who was there.  I then advance slides and introduce the Firsthand vs Secondhand account.  The next slide provides some practice in identifying Firsthand and Secondhand accounts.

Finally, I tell the students to put on their acting hats because today they are going to get to be Academy Award Winning Actors!!  I hand out the role cards randomly and tell the students that when the music starts they need to find the person who has the same role as them.  

There are 5 sets of role cards.  You will need to make duplicate sets in order to accomodate all of your students.  I have found that just because the role cards are duplicates, the role play will not be..

Once the students have their partners, they go off to practice their roles.  After 5 or 10 minutes, we reconvene as a whole group to watch the magic!!  Students who are watching the role play will try to guess if it shows a firsthand or secondhand account of an incident.

And the Award Goes To:

15 minutes

After all the students show off their fabulous acting skills, it is time to assign homework. For homework, students will be given a firsthand account of September 11 and will be required to rewrite the account as a secondhand account.