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Tip of the Week – Primary Source Stations

Last Monday, History Tech hosted the first ever Tip of the Week contest. I asked you to share an awesome web site, an effective strategy, a graphic organizer, a super lesson or a handy classroom management idea. And the winner is:

Josh Head. I’ll be sending Josh a copy of Sam Wineburg’s book, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts.

Josh shared a great idea that he calls Primary Source Stations.

I have found that “primary source stations” work really well for my classes. This is where a question is posed that has divergent opinions or viewpoints, like “Was America hostile towards immigrants at the turn of the century?” and then several primary sources (pictures, speeches, songs, political cartoons, etc.) are placed around the room that give different points of view.

Students then get in groups and go around to each station, writing down what they see and what inferences they can make about the document. Afterwards we place each document on a value line that answers the question. (So documents that show America was very hostile will go on one side and documents that show America wasn’t go on the other side). Eventually students will write a short response to the question, using the sources as evidence for their arguments. It teaches them to use sources to back up their opinions.

Thanks, Josh, for a great idea!

Have fun!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Sean M #

    Great activity. I’ve done similar activities in my middle school classroom. It serves as a great skill-builder when trying to teach students to write DBQ essays.

    October 5, 2010

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