Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Primary Source Scavenger Hunt

This lesson is intended to strengthen students’ skills in finding and analyzing primary sources. It can be conducted over one or two class periods, depending on group size and the age of the students. It assumes that students have a basic knowledge of primary sources, including author bias.

Students choose a topic and use the internet to find the primary sources required. Using a template provided, they will analyze the point of view and possible biases of the author. Finally, student will write a brief account of the event using what they learned form their sources.
Here is an example of a scavenger hunt list:

Hurricane Katrina
o One interview of a victim of Katrina. Can be in print or video.
o Two videos of the Gulf Coast during or after the hurricane.
o A speech by a politician about the situation in New Orleans. Can be a transcript or a video.
o Five still pictures of the events of Katrina.
o Three primary sources expressing one person’s perspective on the events of Hurricane Katrina.

This exercise would be effective in strengthening basic literacy in students; it requires close readings of interviews and first-hand accounts. It is a great exercise for building historical and information literacy as well. Students will learn to examine documents critically and identify problems of bias and point of view.


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