Series Reading Like a Historian: Reading Like a Historian: Primary Source Documents

Reading Like a Historian: Primary Source Documents

Lesson Objective: Choose effective primary source documents
Grades 9-12 / History / Planning
2 MIN

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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. What criteria could you use to select effective primary source documents?
  2. Why does Ms. Duvoor suggest starting with short passages?
  3. How could you apply Ms. Duvoor's suggestions for differentiating primary source documents?

8 Comments

  • Private message to gwen purvis
It is great to differentiate documents, or anything else, for your students, but it can also become cumbersome and very much a chore. I think you have to be very careful what you choose, to keep the length short, to pick speakers the kids might know. Whether willing to admit it or not, it's easy for a teacher to fundamentally change meaning just because he has become sick of reformulating the text.
Recommended (1)
  • Private message to AJ Guevara
Having a modified source document available for struggling students is a great idea.
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to sam wineburg
Here is an article that explains the approach of adapting documents http://jwa.org/sites/jwa.org/files/mediaobjects/tamperingwithhistory.pdf
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Adam Hopson
Prior to watching this video I wouldn't have considered having a modified source document for students who struggle with either reading or understanding the content. I think that's a valuable suggestion. I know it is probably an obvious suggestion, but instinctively my first consideration, sometimes, is to maintain a consistent (equal) environment; that is to say, provide students with the same materials as opposed to making specific accommodations to help individual students succeed. The latter approach should be our first consideration and priority. The video alludes to what is often under appreciated about the teaching profession-- having to prepare materials for a diverse class.
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Courtney Doyland
This video offers valuable tips for introducing complex text to students. While primary source documents are abundant on the web, it concedes that finding the appropriate section of text takes time but is necessary for student comprehension. I like how the instructor scaffolds the learning by focusing on one section of the text at a time. Equally, she encourages differentiated learning by identifying the complexity of the reading to allow students to challenge themselves at their level. Primary source documents can be daunting for any student when he or she is faced with an unabridged selection of writing. For educators wishing to introduce more non-fiction works into their curriculum, this video is a great resource and can be implemented into all of the Common Core History-Social Science Standards for reading comprehension.
Recommended (0)

Transcripts

  • Reading Like A Historian: Strategy – Choosing Primary Source Documents
    Program Transcript

    Shilpa Duvoor (Interview):
    There are a wealth of resources

    Reading Like A Historian: Strategy – Choosing Primary Source Documents
    Program Transcript

    Shilpa Duvoor (Interview):
    There are a wealth of resources online in order to—you know, for teachers to access primary source documents: “World History For Us All” has some great primary source documents, “Internet Modern Data History Sourcebooks”… It does take some time to, like, go look for the particular passage you want, and then to make sure that you scaffold it so that 9th graders can access it and understand it.

    Student:
    (reading)
    “Mohandas K. Gandhi; excerpts from his articles that were published in a newspaper called ‘Young India’ in July 1925…”

    Shilpa Duvoor (Interview):
    So when you’re looking for a primary source document you may want to start off with something a little bit more simple—it’s maybe even two or three sentences. Not a lot. Like, very little—but that has a very clear perspective in there so that they can focus on the other skills that I want them to bring to reading the actual document.

    Student:
    (reading)
    “It is not non-violence if we merely love those that love us.”

    Duvoor:
    Okay, so what is he saying there?

    Student:
    So, they shouldn’t, like, fight back. And they should, like, love the ones that are going against them.

    Shilpa Duvoor (Interview):
    I’ve also tried differentiating it so that I have, for my higher skilled students, I have a more complex version of the document, and for maybe some of my students who struggle a lot more with their reading skills, a more simplified version that has a word bank and has a lot of definitions in it. So you can try two different versions of a primary source document in the same class, and I’ve had a lot of success with that.

    #####

School Details

Summit Preparatory Charter High School
890 Broadway
Redwood City CA 94063
Population: 420

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Shilpa Duvoor

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