Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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History/Social Studies

Reading and Analyzing Texts

Primary and Secondary Sources

In selecting sources for students to use, it is important to consider how well these sources provide evidence for claims that answer the essential question of the investigation. But some sources might be more useful than others when it comes to answering the essential question. Consider the types of sources common to the discipline of history: primary sources and secondary sources.

Primary sources are the “raw materials” for constructing interpretations about events in the past. These sources were created by people who experienced the events during a certain time period under study and who have direct knowledge of what was occurring at the time. Primary sources can be artifacts, documents, or recordings and can take the form of newspaper articles, diaries, speeches, and housing records. While this course focuses on literacy with written texts, other documents such as images, photos, and prints can also be used as primary sources since they too were created by people who lived at the time under study or participated in the events that they comment on. There are numerous ways to find primary sources that can be used within classroom historical investigations. (Unit 8 has support for this.)

Explore: Read Primary Sources: What Are They? [PDF] for a detailed exploration of primary sources. You may also want to review the primary sources used in the Rosa Parks Inquiry you viewed in Unit 5.