Thursday, July 12, 2012

Primary Source Analysis and Common Core Standards in Social Studies 6th-10th Grade

With the arrival of the common core standards in social studies, students will need to be able to analyze the content of primary sources.  Though I have included information on defining primary sources for students in an earlier post, this video by David Jones on VIMEO provides the big picture as to how these documents will be used in writing responses to document based essay questions.  

The material addressed here is geared to students ages 12-15 (7th through 10th grades).  David Jones does an amazing job at clarifying for teachers how to support students in analyzing primary sources to support their essay arguments.   One theme that runs throughout is that teachers need to be careful in what they do to assist students in navigating this material.  It can be tricky to do since often times many students (ELLs especially) are poor readers so leaving them to make sense of a document written 700 years ago is a challenge.  Can teachers translate such documents for those students?  No.  If they do, their students will no longer be working with a primary source.  This is a delicate balancing act it seems.

He also addresses grading by rubric with writing samples.  This section is especially helpful to teachers since it provides a detailed view of what students understood and what they didn't.  If students wonder what type of essay is required, they will need guidance  from the teacher in putting their analysis on paper.  Why not have students work with partners in analyzing their essays?  Each one could use and erasable highlighter to select what he/she feels is a support in the partner's paper.  If an error has been made, the highlighted section can be erased just leaving the original writing.    David Jones provides a quick tutorial on writing in the video as well.




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