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Teaching With Primary Sources

English Language Arts

Dolores Huerta: Working with Others to Create Change   pdf

Theme:  Collaboration                                                      Duration: 2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  English Language Arts                Grade Level:  3-5  

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions for farmworkers in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta.  Finally, students will complete a writing assignment to reflect on working with others to help solve a problem; they may also complete an additional (or alternative) writing assignment to write a letter to Congress. 

 

Dolores Huerta: Building Coalitions to Change Society  pdf

Theme: Empowerment                                                          Duration: 1-2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject: English Language Arts                     Grade Level: 6-8 

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions at different times in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta, including a poem written to celebrate her work. Finally, students will write their own poem about a time they worked as part of a coalition to help solve a problem; they may also complete an additional (or alternative) writing assignment to write a letter to Congress. 

 

Dolores Huerta: Inspiring Civic Responsibility   pdf

Theme:  Impact                                                                            Duration: 1-2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  English/Language Arts                            Grade Level:  9-12  

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will explore the experiences of Mexican-American farmworkers in the United States and learn about how they – especially through the leadership of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers – worked with others for improvements in pay and working conditions, as well as respect for their civil rights. Students will analyze primary sources that document working and living conditions at different times in order to build context and then analyze additional sources that highlight the contributions of Dolores Huerta, including a poem written to celebrate her work. Finally, students will write a poem, speech, or letter to the editor about a social movement (past, present, or future) that inspires them to fulfill their civic responsibilities; they may also complete an additional (or alternative) writing assignment to write a letter to Congress.  

The Meaning of the Federalist Papers pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: English Language Arts  | Grade Level: 9-12 | Duration: 80-100 minutes

Lesson Overview: This lesson explores the Federalist Papers. In Part I, students engage in a discussion about how they get information about current issues. Next, they read a short background of the Federalist Papers and work individually or in pairs to closely examine the text. In Part II, student pairs analyze excerpts from the Federalist Papers and relate these documents to what they have already learned. In Part III, students work in small groups to research a Federalist or Anti-Federalist and role-play this person in a classroom debate on the adoption of the Constitution. Finally, students write their own version of a modern "Federalist Paper."

Math

Voting by Numbers pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: Math | Grade Level: 6-8 | Duration: 80-100 minutes

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students learn about the application of ratios and proportions to the real political issue of gerrymandering. In Part I, students conduct a primary-source analysis of the original 1812 political cartoon about Elbridge Gerry's redistricting in Massachusetts to build background knowledge. In Part II, students analyze a historical map of Massachusetts's gerrymandered voting districts in 1812 and compare it to the political cartoon to discuss issues of fairness. In Part III, students solve a hypothetical problem about fair representation on a student council, using their knowledge and understanding of gerrymandering and ratios. Finally, students role-play state legislators in a hypothetical state to solve problems of representation, including gerrymandering.

Science

TB or Not TB pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: Science | Grade Level: 3-5 | Duration: 80-100 minutes

Lesson Overview:  In this lesson, students use the example of tuberculosis to learn how scientists, the government, and public-interest organizations work together to ensure that the public has equal access to disease-prevention information and support. In Part I, students discuss the role of science in public health and play the role of "Disease Detectives" to learn more about tuberculosis from primary sources. In Part II, students participate in a gallery walk to analyze historic public health posters about disease prevention to learn about the people and groups responsible for fighting tuberculosis. In Part III, student groups apply what they have learned to create their own posters about disease prevention today.

Healthy Discussion: Science and the Law  pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: Science | Grade Level: 6-8 | Duration:

Lesson Overview: In this two-part lesson students will be able to explain the role of science in informing public policy. In Part I, students discuss their prior knowledge of vaccinations and the purpose of vaccinations. In Part II, students assume the roles of members of Congress to determine if they will support a bill to require the federal government to compare the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Students will use primary sources to explore the issue and then will work in small groups to discuss the most important factors affecting Congress's decision. Finally, students interview an adult about their knowledge and opinion of science and public policy, particularly related to vaccinations.

Mandatory Vaccination: Yea or Nay? pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: Science | Grade Level: 9-12 | Duration:

Lesson Overview: In this three-part lesson students will be able to discuss the proper role of government in making public health decisions. In Part I, students discuss their prior knowledge of vaccinations and the purpose of vaccinations. In Part II, students assume the roles of members of Congress to determine if they will vote on a bill to require parents to vaccinate their children. Students will use primary sources to explore the issue, then work in small groups to discuss both sides of the argument. Finally, students will state and support their vote for or against the bill. In Part III, students conduct independent research in order to write their answer to the Essential Question.

Social Studies

Extra! Extra! Journalists and a Free Press   pdf

Theme:  Belonging                                                                Duration: 2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  Social Studies                              Grade Level:  3-5  

Lesson Overview:  In this lesson, students learn about the crucial role journalists and reporters play in keeping the citizens in a democratic society informed about their community, the nation, and the world. First, students are introduced to the notion of “freedom of the press” from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and they discuss the role of journalists in reporting the news to us all. Then, students analyze primary sources related to famous journalists while referring to historical context for each in order to understand the important role these journalists played in their time. Finally, students create an issue of their own school newspaper to understand the responsibility their have as journalists to report accurately, fairly, and truthfully.

Race and the 14th Amendment  pdf

Interdisciplinary Subject: Social Studies | Grade Level: 3-5 | Duration: 80-100 minutes

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students explore the application of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause to issues of racial discrimination in higher education in the United States. In Part I, students closely read a few paragraphs from a pamphlet produced by the NAACP on the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), a case that invalidated quotas in affirmative action for medical school under the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. In Part II, students read and discuss a background briefing on affirmative action in higher education. Students conduct a role-play activity on deciding the best admissions policy for a college to ensure equal protection of the laws. In Part III, students answer the Essential Question in a short essay.

Suppressing the Press? Censorship and the Alien & Sedition Acts   pdf

Theme:  Equality                                                                    Duration: 1–2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  Social Studies                                Grade Level:  6-8  

Lesson Overview:  In this lesson, students will explore freedom of the press as they examine sources related to government censorship of the press. After reviewing the First Amendment and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, they will further analyze the Sedition Act and explore its relevance today. Then students will examine a political cartoon to discuss the relevance of the freedom over time. Finally, they will design and create their own poster promoting freedom of the press today.

Education and Equality in the Courts pdf

Theme:  Equality                                                                    Duration: 80-100 minutes
Interdisciplinary Subject: Social Studies                                   Grade Level: 6-8 

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students analyze primary sources related to equality in education in the United States. In Part I, students analyze two sets of primary sources that illustrate major transformations in American public education following both the Mendez v. Westminster federal case (1947) and the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case (1954). In Part II, students participate in a moot court activity about expanding equality for undocumented immigrant and legal-resident or citizen students in the historic Supreme Court case of Plyler v. Doe (1982). Students write their answers to questions about the role of equality in public education.

Find Your Freedom pdf

Theme:  Community                                                     Duration: 1-2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  Civics                                  Grade Level:  6-8

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will analyze primary sources from the Library of Congress including Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” and “The Bill of Rights.” Students will identify amendments related to two of the four freedoms from the primary sources and will then work in small groups to reach consensus and propose a new amendment to secure rights or freedoms not included in the Bill of Rights.                           

 

A Free Press in Wartime   pdf

Theme:  Commitment                                                                    Duration: 1–2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  Social Studies                                        Grade Level:  9-12  

Lesson Overview:  In this lesson, students will analyze a political cartoon created by William Allen Rogers during World War I to give context to press censorship during that war. Next, students will explore additional sources from the Library of Congress to analyze how censorship worked both before and after the passage of the Sedition Act of 1918.  Finally, students will compose their own “email to the editor” of a local newspaper or online news source, expressing their own views about the importance of freedom of the press and their informed opinion of press censorship in wartime.

Find Your Freedom  pdf  

Theme:  Community                                                   Duration: 1-2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject: Civics                                 Grade Level:  4-5  

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will analyze primary sources from the Library of Congress to identify freedoms and rights. Then they will be provided with background information about the Bill of Rights. Students will match the amendments related to some of the freedoms they identified through analyzing sources and will then work in small groups to reach consensus and propose a new amendment to secure rights or freedoms not included in the Bill of Rights.

Find Your Freedom
Going Viral: Four Freedoms  
pdf

Theme:  Purpose                                                       Duration: 1-2 Class Sessions
Interdisciplinary Subject:  Civics                               Grade Level:  9-12 

Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students will analyze a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech and use primary sources from the Library of Congress to gain historical context. Next, students will explore sources from the Library to draw conclusions about the impact of the speech on American culture at the time. Finally, students will write their own “Four Freedoms” speech, outlining four freedoms they believe Americans should keep front-of-mind today.

Voting Rights & Equality pdf

Lesson Overview: Interdisciplinary Subject: Civics | Grade Level: 9-12 | Duration: 80-100 minutes

In this three-part lesson students will use primary sources to explore voting rights in the United States. In Part I, students will analyze two sets of documents to gain a deeper understanding of how suffrage has been both expanded and suppressed, developing claims about how voting rights impact equality. In Part II, students will further analyze one of the documents from Day One before taking on the role of a congressional committee charged with amending (or not) the Voting Rights Act to require compulsory voting. In Part III, students write their answer to the Essential Question, informed by class discussion and primary-source analysis.


Created in collaboration with the Barat Education Foundation, Constitutional Rights Foundation and DePaul University College of Education; funded and distributed through a Teaching with Primary Sources grant awarded by the Library of Congress. Find additional materials and resources at the Citizen U website and http://PrimarySourceNexus.org. Content created and featured in partnership with the TPS program does not indicate an endorsement by the Library of Congress.