LAFS.1112.RH.1.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
General Information
Subject Area: English Language Arts
Grade: 1112
Strand: Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Date Adopted or Revised: 12/10
Date of Last Rating: 02/14
Status: State Board Approved

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Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

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Lesson Plans

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Railroads Change Florida: Governor Milton vs. David Yulee: A Structured Academic Controversy:

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Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Scopes Trial:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did people care about the Butler Act? Students first read an excerpt from a 1914 textbook, A Civic Biology, and answer brief questions. The teacher then gives a mini-lecture on the rise of religious fundamentalism in the 1920s and streams a video clip on the Scopes Trial. Students fill out a graphic organizer during/after they watch and then they analyze 4 documents: 1) a letter to the editor of the Nashville Tennessean, 2) a speech from one of John Scopes' defense attorneys, 3) a magazine article written by a fundamentalist preacher, and 4) a New York Times article commenting on the media circus. For each, they answer guiding questions. A final class discussion contextualizes the documents: how did the context of the 1920s make this more than a simple debate over evolution?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Palmer Raids:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Palmer Raids? The lesson begins by asking students what communism/socialism means to them. Students share answers in pairs. The teacher then provides background information on the Red Scare and follows up by streaming a film clip from Discovery Education. Students then analyze 2 documents-"The Case Against the Reds" by A. Mitchell Palmer and a deportation statement by Emma Goldman-and answer guiding questions for each. A final class discussion corroborates the documents: why did the nation allow the Palmer Raids to take place?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Marcus Garvey:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was Marcus Garvey a controversial figure? Students first read their textbook's passage on Garvey and discuss; the teacher then distributes a timeline to extend students' background knowledge. The teacher may also (optional) stream some video clips on Garvey "In His Own Words," about 5 minutes total. Students then analyze 4 documents: 1) an excerpt from the Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2) a letter from NAACP members and others to the Attorney General complaining of Garvey, 3) a memo by J. Edgar Hoover, and 4) Garvey's own Autobiography. For all, students answer extensive guiding questions and engage in Socratic discussion with the teacher: why was Garvey so popular and controversial? Students then answer the question in writing using all the documents as evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Prohibition:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was the 18th Amendment adopted? Students first read the text of the amendment and answer brief guiding questions. Then, the teacher streams a video clip from Discovery Education about the temperance movement. Students then analyze, in small groups, 4 documents: 1) a statement by the National Temperance Council, 2) a New York Times article, 3) a propaganda poster, "Alcohol and Degeneracy," and 4) another such poster, "Children in Misery." For each, they answer detailed guiding questions. A final class discussion evaluates the strategies of temperance advocates: are their arguments convincing?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Chicago Race Riots of 1919:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Chicago race riots of 1919? The teacher begins with a mini-lecture on the Great Migration and then streams the video trailer for a documentary film called Up South. Students then read 2 secondary source accounts of the riots: 1 from a generic textbook and another from John H. Franklin's From Slavery to Freedom. Students analyze with a graphic organizer and discuss: which account is more believable and why? They then do the same for 3 primary sources, drawn from contemporary newspapers and magazines. A final class discussion attempts to identify the real cause of the riots and places them in a larger context of racial violence at the time.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Sedition in WWI:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were critics of the First World War anti-American? Students begin by free-writing: what is patriotism? Is it unpatriotic to criticize one's government? Students receive 2 documents: a speech by Eugene Debs and a pamphlet by Charles Schenck. For both, they answer detailed questions on a graphic organizer. After discussing, students then look at the text of the 1917 Sedition Act and answer guiding questions. Finally, the class looks at Oliver Wendell Holmes' Supreme Court decision ruling against Schenck and discuss: Did he break the law? Do you agree with the decision? For homework, students answer the central question in writing with evidence from the documents.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: U.S. Entry into WWI:

In this lesson, designed to follow a more general lesson on the causes and warring parties of WWI, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the U.S. enter World War I? The teacher begins with a mini-lesson on Woodrow Wilson. Students then read 2 Wilson documents: 1) a 1914 speech urging American neutrality and 2) Wilson's 1917 speech on the U.S. entry into the war. Students then read their class textbook's explanation for the end of U.S. neutrality, followed by an excerpt from Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. For all documents, students answer guiding questions which stress contextualization and close reading. A final class discussion evaluates Zinn's views and compares them to the other sources.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Anti-Suffragists:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did people, including women, oppose women's suffrage? It is recommended (but not essential) that the teacher begin by screening some of the HBO film Iron Jawed Angels to start a discussion about the motives of anti-suffragists. In groups, students then analyze 3 documents: 1) an excerpt from Molly Seawell's anti-suffragist book, 2) an anti-suffrage newspaper article, and 3) a speech by Tennessee Congressman John Moon. For each, students answer questions on a graphic organizer. In a final class discussion, students discuss the validity of anti-suffragists' motives, relate them to the film, and discuss what other sources they might want to read for further corroboration and contextualization.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who was a stronger advocate for African-Americans, Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. DuBois? The teacher first uses a mini-lecture and a streaming video clip from Discovery Education to explain late 19th-century race relations in the South. Students then analyze an excerpt from Washington's "Atlanta Compromise" speech as the teacher models-extensively-sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading techniques, answering questions on a graphic organizer. Students then do the same, on their own, with a selection from DuBois' Souls of Black Folk. A final class discussion evaluates the 2 men: who was more right in his approach, given the historical context?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: King Philip's War of 1675:

This lesson challenges students to answer the central historical question: What caused King Philip's War of 1675? After warming up with some historical background information, students are presented with 2 primary source documents: a 1675 document ostensibly representing King Philip's "perspective" (but actually written by a colonist) and a post-war query as to the war's causes instigated by the English government. Students then answer questions (sourcing, contextualization, close reading) to analyze the passages and work in pairs to answer a final corroboration question on the war's ultimate cause.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Slavery in the Constitution:

In this lesson, students analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Founding Fathers keep slavery in the Constitution? Students first read Thomas Jefferson's original (deleted) anti-slavery grievance from the Declaration of Independence. Students are then given brief statements from 4 different Founders (Benjamin Franklin among them). These are followed by paragraph-length analyses from 3 historians who comment from a historical distance on the Founders' unwillingness or inability to eliminate slavery. The lesson ends with a "debrief" class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Stamp Act:

In this lesson, students study the origins of the American Revolution and the colonial protests against the Stamp Act in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why were colonists upset about the Stamp Act? Students will read three primary source documents:

  1. a short piece form the Boston-Gazette urging protest,
  2. a letter from an English newspaper expressing bafflement over the protests, and
  3. a letter from tax collector John Hughes complaining of his ill-treatment and blaming it on the Presbyterians.

Following the teacher's model, students answer sourcing and contextualization questions for the first two documents and do the last on their own. Discussion questions which corroborate all three documents conclude the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Albert Parsons SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was [Haymarket Riot defendant] Albert Parsons a dangerous man? First, the teacher uses a timeline to introduce Haymarket and the 8 men put on trial in its aftermath. Students are then given 6 documents-several by Parsons himself, but also a newspaper account of the trial, trial testimony, and a 2006 secondary source-and answer guiding questions. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that Parson was/was not "dangerous"; only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Battle of Lexington:

In this lesson, students will study the first outbreak of violence in the American Revolution in an effort to answer the central historical question: What happened at the Battle of Lexington? Through sourcing and contextualization questions students will study a textbook passage on the battle, two primary source documents (one from a British soldier and one from a group of minutemen), and two paintings of the battle. As a final assessment, students will rewrite the textbook's account, taking into account the new perspectives they have learned.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Chinese Immigration and Exclusion:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What factors contributed to the Chinese Exclusion Act? After a mini-lecture on the Transcontinental Railroad, students read a timeline and formulate hypotheses as to why Chinese were legally excluded from mainstream society in 1882. They then answer guiding questions on 4 documents: 1) an anti-Chinese play, 2) a Thomas Nast cartoon, 3) an anti-Chinese speech, and 4) the autobiography of a Chinese immigrant. For homework, students write a 1-page answer to the central question using evidence from the documents.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Declaration of Independence :

In this lesson, students study primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Founders write the Declaration of Independence? Students will examine contrasting views by two historians. Then they will read the preamble of the Declaration (2 versions of varying reading complexity are provided) and rewrite it in their own words. Students will also examine a simplified list of the grievances against King George specified in the Declaration. Finally, students and teacher attempt to answer the central question and determine which featured historian has the better argument.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Emancipation Proclamation:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Did Lincoln free the slaves or did the slaves free themselves? The teacher may use background information (provided) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2 documents: 1) Lincoln's text of the Proclamation itself and 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass on a meeting with Lincoln. For each, students answer worksheet questions in pairs and then fill out a graphic organizer to reach a conclusion. A final class discussion ends the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Examining Passenger Lists:

This lesson requires students to look at 2 passenger manifests of English colonists headed to the New World: one to the Chesapeake and the other to New England. From the passengers' names, ages, and occupations, students must infer information about the "average" colonist who settled each region.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Explosion of the Maine :

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What sank the Maine? The teacher introduces the concept of media sensationalism and shows a painting of the Maine's destruction and a propaganda song blaming the Spanish. Students then receive opposing newspaper accounts from Hearst's New York Herald and the New York Times; for each, they fill out a graphic organizer and/or guiding questions. A class discussion explores how the reporting of news influences readers' opinions. For homework, students explain--using textual evidence--which account they find more believable.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Federalists & Anti-Federalists:

In this lesson, students analyze two primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What type of government did Federalists and Anti-Federalists prefer? The lesson begins with a mini-lesson introducing historical context for the Constitutional Convention, the Great Compromise over Representation, and the ratification process. Students then analyze, with the aid of a graphic organizer, two documents: one by an Anti-Federalist (Melancton Smith) and one by a Federalist (Alexander Hamilton). Students discuss as a class the two positions and their modern-day implications.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Great Awakening:

In this lesson, students study the Great Awakening and one of its most notable preachers, George Whitefield, in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was George Whitefield so popular? After viewing an online film clip and a brief PowerPoint to establish context for the Great Awakening and some of its "superstar" preachers, students are presented with three primary sources regarding Whitefield:

  1. a long-after-the-fact anecdote by Benjamin Franklin,
  2. a contemporary (but undated) account by a born-again Whitefield follower Nathan Cole, and
  3. a hostile and dismissive letter by a rival preacher, Nathanael Henchman.

For each, students answer sourcing and contextualization questions and formulate a hypothesis as to Whitefield's popularity. A culminating class discussion addresses the central question.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Hamilton vs. Jefferson:

In this lesson, students analyze two primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What were the differences between [Alexander] Hamilton and [Thomas] Jefferson? Students first read a textbook summary/description (not included) of the Hamilton/Jefferson dynamic. Then, students are given a letter by each man—both addressed to George Washington and written on the same day—each of which addresses the ongoing feud with the other man. In pairs, students read the documents and answer sourcing, corroboration, contextualization, and close reading questions, including some intriguing ones which encourage students to "pick sides" in the rivalry.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Homestead Strike:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Homestead Strike turn violent? The teacher first recaps labor/industry relations of the era and introduces the Homestead Strike with a timeline. The teacher then models sourcing and close reading techniques with a document: Emma Goldman's 1931 autobiography. Students then do the same with an 1892 newspaper interview of Henry Frick, followed by corroboration guiding questions that pit the 2 authors against each other. In a final class discussion, students evaluate the validity of the sources and debate whether the historical "truth" about the strike is knowable.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Irish Immigration:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were the Irish considered "white" in the 19th century? The teacher introduces the topic with background information on anti-Irish hostility. Students are then split into groups of 4 and given 2 political cartoons (one by Thomas Nast), a primary source except from a Know-Nothing newspaper, and a secondary source by historian David Roediger. For each, they answer guiding questions, and then, using all 4 documents, compare evidence that Irish were/were not considered "white." A final class discussion addresses the racially ambiguous status of the Irish.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Jacob Riis and Immigrants:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What was life like in American cities during the Industrial Era? The teacher introduces progressive photojournalist Jacob Riis and projects 2 of his photos; discussion questions ask students if the pictures are trustworthy (posed) and what they might tell us about Riis's audience. Students then read excerpts from Riis's book How the Other Half Lives: ugly stereotypes of ethnic Italians, Chinese, and Jews. Students answer guiding questions on the documents, and a final class discussion explores what Riis's work really tells about American urban life at this time.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Japanese Segregation in San Francisco:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did Teddy Roosevelt oppose the segregation of San Francisco's public schools? The teacher first informs students of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the resultant attempted segregation of Japanese students. Students then read 4 source documents-letters and public speeches-in which President Roosevelt discusses his reasons for opposing the law, as well as a political cartoon addressing the issue. For each, students answer questions on a graphic organizer: Why do you think TR opposed the issue? What can you infer about the U.S. in 1906? Finally, the class goes over a timeline of relevant events, enabling the teacher to show how reading contextually lets students learn historical context from documents. Students then respond in writing, using all evidence to reach a conclusion of their own.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: John Brown:

In this lesson, students analyze several primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was John Brown a "misguided fanatic?" The teacher may use a PowerPoint and/or timeline (both are included) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2-3 documents (note: 3 are included, but the third is optional and guiding questions for it are not included): 1) Brown's last letter, written on the day of his death sentence, 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass, and 3) a letter by Brown admirer L. Maria Child. Students answer sourcing and contextualization questions for each, and a final class discussion address Brown's fanaticism or lack of it.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Lewis and Clark SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents, as well as engage in a Structured Academic Controversy, in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were Lewis and Clark respectful to the Native Americans they encountered on their journey? Detailed directions are provided for both teacher and students as to how to conduct a Structured Academic Controversy. All primary and secondary source documents (a letter from Thomas Jefferson, 4 excerpts from Clark's journals from 1805 and 1806, and a Time magazine article exploring the expedition from the Native American's point of view) are included with the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Louisiana Purchase:

In this lesson, students analyze 3 primary source documents (an editorial by Alexander Hamilton, and back-and-forth letters by Senators Rufus King and Timothy Pickering) in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase? The teacher models sourcing and contextualization to help students analyze the documents while the students fill in a graphic organizer. A final class discussion attempts to uncover the Federalist critics' real motivations—was their opposition practical or political?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Loyalists:

In this brief lesson, students study the writings of Loyalists during the American Revolution in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did some colonists support England and oppose independence? After a brief teacher introduction establishing historical context, students will read read two primary source documents:

  1. a pamphlet by Charles Inglis, Anglican minister, explaining the many drawbacks to American independence, and
  2. an anonymous newspaper letter urging reconciliation with Britain.

While reading, students complete a graphic organizer that applies sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading to each passage. A final class discussion asks students to draw a conclusion as to whether the Loyalists or Patriots were more reasonable.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Manifest Destiny:

In this lesson, students analyze maps, art, and primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Americans justify westward expansion? To begin the lesson, students will examine a painting entitled "American Progress. "Students will compare 2 maps of the U.S.: a political map from 1872 and an electoral map from 1816. Next, students examine another 1816 map; the map is unusual in that it depicts the U.S. stretching to the Pacific—decades before this actually happened! Students will read 2 passages by John O'Sullivan, coiner of the phrase "Manifest Destiny," and answer guiding questions. A final class discussion reviews students' answers and touches on the subject of American Exceptionalism.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Nat Turner:

In this lesson, students analyze 3 source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was Nat Turner a hero or a madman? The lesson begins by first reading the class textbook's account of the Nat Turner massacre and then reading a timeline which includes Turner's capture and execution. The teacher them models the first document, an excerpt from Thomas Gray's Confessions of Nat Turner, by helping students answer sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading questions. Students then do the same with 2 more documents: a newspaper editorial contemptuous of Turner and an admiring 1843 speech by Henry Garnet to the National Negro Convention. Finally, students use all 3 documents to write a response to the central question and discuss as a class: what kind of person was Nat Turner?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Philippine War Political Cartoons :

In this lesson, students analyze political cartoons in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the United States annex the Philippines after the Spanish-American War? The teacher first uses a timeline to review basic information about the war, then distributes Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden," which students analyze in pairs. Then, students are split into 6 groups and receive 2 different cartoons each: 1 from a pro-imperial magazine like Judge or Puck, and 1 from an anti-imperial magazine like Life or The World. Using a graphic organizer, students examine the cartoons and then present 1 of them to the class, explaining how the cartoonist makes his point. A final class discussion contextualizes the cartoons and the events of the late 1890s.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Pocahontas:

This lesson focuses around two different versions of John Smith's "rescue" by Pocahontas. Students compare and contrast the two versions and encounter the idea of subjectivity versus objectivity in primary source historical documents. Finally, they read the brief opinions of two historians who provide their perspectives on the incident.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Political Bosses:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were political bosses corrupt? The teacher begins by explaining progressives' complaints about political machines and graft and then shows a political cartoon criticizing Tammany Hall. Students then read and analyze 2 documents: 1) a book excerpt by muckraker Lincoln Steffens, and 2) a "talk" by political boss George Plunkitt. For each, they answer guiding questions on a graphic organizer (the teacher models this extensively with the first document in the lesson). For HW, students write a dialogue between the 2 writers in which Steffens tries to convince Plunkitt to practice honest government.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Populism and the Election of 1896:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Populist Party attract millions of supporters? The teacher begins with a PowerPoint which reviews the struggles of farmers and the emergence of political populism. Students then read a speech by populist speaker Mary Elizabeth Lease and annotate it. They then answer guiding questions about William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech (excerpt). A final class discussion attempts to explain populism's appeal-then and now.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Progressive Social Reformers SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: What were the attitudes of Progressive social reformers toward immigrants? Students first read their textbook's passage on the Social Gospel and Settlement Houses. The teacher reviews the material, emphasizing main points, and then streams a brief film clip (link included) about women in the Progressive era. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that social reformers were either (Pair A) generous and helpful or (Pair B) condescending and judgmental. Only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion: how did social attitudes then differ from those of today?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Pullman Strike :

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Chicago newspapers cover the Pullman strike? The teacher begins by placing the Pullman strike in the context of other labor strikes and using a PowerPoint to convey basic information. Students are then divided into 4 groups, and each is given a different set of articles-1 each from the Chicago Times and Chicago Tribune-and told to use close reading strategies to figure out which paper was biased against the strikers and which favored them. Finally, each group chooses a representative to present to the entire class how that group arrived at its conclusion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Puritans :

This lesson utilizes 2 primary sources—John Winthrop's "City on a Hill" speech and John Cotton's "The Divine Right to Occupy the Land" speech—to challenge students with the fundamental question: Were the Puritans selfish or selfless? Students respond by answering questions, writing an informal extended response utilizing textual evidence from both speeches, and discussing the issue in class.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Radical Reconstruction:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was the Radical Republican plan for Reconstruction considered "radical?" The teacher first uses a PowerPoint to review the Civil War and introduce the challenges of Reconstruction. Students then analyze and answer guiding questions about 3 documents: a speech by Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical, and 2 speeches by President Andrew Johnson. A final class discussion evaluates the Radicals' plan and compares it to Johnson's approach: Which was more likely to unite the country?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Reconstruction SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were African Americans free during Reconstruction? After an introduction/review of the time period, students answer detailed guiding questions on 4 text documents and a set of photos illustrating the post-Civil War freedoms and restrictions which blacks faced. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that blacks were/were not free; only at the end do students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Salem Witch Trials :

In this lesson, students investigate and answer the central historical question: What caused the Salem Witch Crisis of 1692? After brainstorming and learning some background context for the witch trials, pairs of students read and answer sourcing questions for 2 primary sources: a Cotten Mather speech and the testimony of Abigail Hobbs, a teenager accused of witchcraft. After they draw preliminary conclusions, students are then given 2 more documents—a chart and a map—which ground the witch trials in an economic and geographic context. Students ultimately draw on all 4 documents to explain the witch trials' cause in writing, and then share their conclusions with the class.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Sharecropping:

In this lesson, students analyze a primary source document in an effort to answer the central historical question: How accurate is the textbook's description of sharecropping? Students first view an 1898 photo of sharecroppers-most will probably assume the workers to be slaves. In pairs, students then read their textbook's description of sharecropping and compare it to an actual 1882 sharecropping contract. Guiding questions on the document and a final discussion allow the class to judge the accuracy of the textbook's depiction.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Shays' Rebellion :

In this lesson, students analyze a primary source in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Americans react to Shays' Rebellion? Students read a textbook excerpt (included) about Shays' Rebellion and a letter from Thomas Jefferson speaking about Shays' rebels. Students answer questions that ask them to analyze the letter through sourcing, contextualization, close reading, and corroboration questions. A final class discussion corroborates the textbook passage and the Jefferson letter in an effort to challenge the popular account in which all Americans feared the rebellion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Soldiers in the Philippines:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What accounted for American atrocities during the Philippine War? The teacher first uses a timeline to review basic information about the Philippine occupation and the 1902 Senate hearings regarding atrocities. Students then read numerous source documents from witness and participants in the war: the testimony of U.S. soldiers to the Senate, letters from soldiers to home, and a report from a Filipino soldier. Students use the sources and a graphic organizer to test 3 different hypotheses as to why soldiers were brutal. In a 1-page final response, students write about the hypothesis they find most convincing, using textual evidence. A final class discussion follows.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Spanish American War :

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the U.S invade Cuba? The teacher streams a short film (link included) while students take notes as to possible reasons for the invasion. Students then read the following: 1) song lyrics of an anti-Spanish propaganda a song written after the Maine sinking, 2) a telegram sent by Fitzhugh Lee, U.S. Consul-General in Cuba, and 3) a Senate campaign speech from Albert Beveridge. For each, students complete a graphic organizer and guiding questions. A final class discussion goes back to the original class hypotheses and determines which ones are most supported by the evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Texas Independence:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did Texans declare independence from Mexico in 1836? The teacher introduces the topic with a film clip (Note: requires registration to Discovery Education's website) and timeline and elicits student hypotheses. Students are then given 4 documents: 1) the Texas Declaration of Independence, 2) a letter by Tejano Rafael Manchola, 3) a speech by Mexican Juan Seguin, and 4) a pamphlet by abolitionist Benjamin Lundy. Students then analyze each using a graphic organizer; a final class discussion invites students to participate in the historical debate.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: The 1898 North Carolina Election:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Democrats defeat the Fusion ticket in the 1898 North Carolina election? The teacher first recaps Southern politics and Populism, and then goes over a timeline. Students, in groups, analyze 3 documents-an account of a speech by Senator Ben Tillman, a proclamation by Governor Daniel Russell, and a race-baiting political cartoon-and answer guiding questions. A final class discussion attempts to explain why Democrats won in 1898.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: The Battle of the Little Bighorn:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who was responsible for the Battle of the Little Bighorn? After a mini-lecture on the late 1800s Indian Wars, students read a textbook account of the battle, and then compare it to 2 documents: 1) a report by the War Secretary, and 2) an account by Kate Bighead, a Cheyenne Indian. Students answer guiding questions for all documents, followed by a class discussion. For homework, students write a new textbook account using primary source information.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Thomas Nast’s Political Cartoons:

In this lesson, students analyze the political cartoons of Thomas Nast in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Northern attitudes toward freed African Americans change during Reconstruction? The teacher first shows students a contemporary political cartoon (not included) and explains how cartoons can teach us about the context of their time. Students then answer sourcing questions about Nast and analyze 2 of his cartoons: 1 from 1865 (in favor of black suffrage) and another from 1874 (dubious of the same). A final class discussion synthesizes students' opinions.

Type: Lesson Plan

Presentation/Slideshow

Reading Like a Historian: Background on Women’s Suffrage:

In this lesson, students view and discuss a PowerPoint presentation in an effort to answer the central historical questions: Why did people oppose women's suffrage? Did anti-suffragists think men were superior to women? As a starter, the teacher displays a photo of a WWI-era suffragette and asks students when they think the picture was taken. Then, using the PowerPoint, students review the history of the suffrage movement, starting with the Seneca Falls convention (the class pauses to read and discuss Mott and Stanton's "Declaration of Sentiments") and finishing with Alice Paul's acts of civil disobedience and the passage of the 19th Amendment. Discussion questions are included throughout.

Type: Presentation/Slideshow

Teaching Ideas

Close Reading Exemplar: The Gospel of Wealth:

The goal of this two to three day exemplar from Student Achievement Partner web resources is to give students the opportunity to use effective reading and writing habits to make meaning out of complex text. By closely reading and re-reading the The Gospel of Wealth, and focusing their reading through a series of questions and discussion about the text, students will identify the ways Andrew Carnegie proposes his philosophy for the distribution of wealth and the responsibility of philanthropy. When combined with writing about the passage, students will discover how much they can learn from engaging with a text in the form of a close reading.

Type: Teaching Idea

Reading Strategy: Reciprocal Teaching Using a News Article on Citizenship:

This USA Today activity is perfect for combining Language Arts and Civics' lessons for close-reading of higher levels of text complexity appropriate to grade-bands. The activity uses cross curricular skill areas—reading/writing, speaking/listening—as students engage in close-reading activities, analysis of test questions, and formation of new test questions.

Type: Teaching Idea

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Parent Resources

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