Were You There? Did You Write It Down?

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SWBAT identify and explain the differences between primary and secondary sources documenting an historical event.

Big Idea

Understanding the difference between primary and secondary sources is a skill that students need to understand to effectively evaluate information.

Activate Your Thinking

10 minutes

When students enter the room, they will find a packet of pictures on their desks.  The pictures will represent primary and secondary sources for September 11.  Students will be instructed to sort the pictures into two categories- Primary Sources and Secondary Sources.

Yes, I know most of the students will not know the difference, but it will involve some analysis on their part and will give them a chance to be a "problem solver".  Besides, some may get it correct and will show me who already knows this information.

I will have the same pictures on the Smartboard ready to do a sort after all the student sorts are finished.

Further Your Knowledge

30 minutes

After the students have sorted their pictures, I will put up the Smartboard lesson and reveal the correct answers.  Students may glue their pictures on their paper correctly and label the group each object comes from (audio, images, statistics, text or ojbects) We will then have a conversation about each picture and what makes it a primary or secondary source.

Once the students understand the difference between primary and secondary sources, they will begin their research.  I formatively assess this by holding up objects in the classroom and haivng students hold up fingers to vote (1 for primary, 2 for secondary) so I can quickly check who has it and who doesn't.   

We will be using the building laptop cart and printer but this could also be done on classroom computers by using pairs of students or in a computer lab.

Students will be given a rubric and tasked with finding examples of primary and secondary sources for an historic event:  The sinking of the Titanic or the first man on the moon.  I will then give time for their research.

This part of the class may take longer than the time listed here- especially if your students aren't experienced users of search engines.  

A good way to differentiate here for special education or ESL students or for students who know very little about using Google would be to pair them up with more experienced students. Another way to differentiate would be to run a small group with a one computer broadcoast through an ELMO or a projector so students could follow along on their own computer.

Viewing a Primary Source

10 minutes

As we near the end of this unit, I want students to see and feel what we all did so I found some live news coverage.  It has been viewed for appropriateness, but it's a montage of many news outlets showing the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

What I want them to understand is the uncertainty and by showing this clip, hopefully they will get the feeling that the rest of us had.  You don't have to show the whole video, as it is the same thing over and over with different networks and broadcasters.  You can view the video here.

After viewing the video, students will decide if the news broadcasts are primary or secondary sources and tell how they know in an exit ticket.