Greater Denver Metro NHD



Just as students learned to analyze primary source maps and pictures last week, they also must learn to analyze primary source writing. There are several types of primary source writing they may encounter as they research—diaries or journals, letters, newspaper articles, song lyrics, governmental documents. Each has a different purpose and offers different information.



Choose two primary source writings for your class to analyze. There are examples available below related to the Sand Creek Massacre, or you can choose two documents that relate to your current classroom topic. Sometimes primary source documents can be difficult to read do to age or handwriting. Express to your students that it is okay to use a transcription of the document. It is still considered a primary source.  


Using the same analysis techniques applied to last week’s workshop, work with your students to analyze the documents you have chosen. The source analysis worksheet that is linked here can be of use here. A primary source graphic organizer is available as well. Ask questions such as who is the intended audience? When was the document written? By whom was it written? What was its purpose? What does it tell you about the topic?


Challenge your students to look for quotes that might be useful in their project. If they record a quote from a primary source, remind them that they must credit the author/speaker.  Because quotes do not count toward the overall word count of a project, they are often concise and eloquent ways to convey ideas. Encourage your students to look for balance. If they find a quote supporting one side of an issue, there will often be an opposing viewpoint.


Post Evaluation:

Now that your students have worked with primary and secondary sources, have them take the sources “Post-assessment”.  If you do not wish to complete this assessment now, you can offer it to your students at any time. There is also reminder in the evaluation materials.


Work Time:

Allow your students to continue working on their research and note-taking while you observe or help students who need extra guidance. This will give you an opportunity to see what they have accomplished so far.


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