What our Historical Sources, Evidence, and Credibility lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Historical Sources, Evidence, and Credibility teaches students about different types of historical evidence and how we can use them to explain past events. Students will learn how to compare different types of evidence and determine which sources are credible for use in reporting historical events accurately. They will also learn about the different audiences and purposes that historians developed different kinds of historical sources for. By the end of this course, students will have a better understanding of how historians report and interpret history. They will also be able to use that knowledge to form their own interpretations of past events. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are pencils, pens, highlighters, and access to computers, laptops, or tablets.
Options for Lesson
Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. If you’d like to change the focus of the lesson, you can start the lesson by writing the following question on the board and having students debate the question, writing their answer on the board: Is the answer a reliable source for historical resources and content? You can also have students explore the Teaching History website, linked in the Options for Lesson section, with you.
The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.
HISTORICAL SOURCES, EVIDENCE, AND CREDIBILITY LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
Think Like A Historian: What is credibility?
The Historical Sources, Evidence, and Credibility lesson plan includes two pages of content. The lesson begins by stating that different teachers think differently. A math teacher might think primarily in math terms, while an English teacher things about writing. Over time, teachers learn to think like the other people in their subject.
People often adopt the language, methods, and ideas from the things that they’re interested in. If you wanted to be a cheerleader, you might learn from a cheerleading coach. You can do this with most sports or hobbies. As you practice your hobby and gain knowledge of it, you might start to think like a coach or teacher.
The Scientific Method is the process scientists use to conduct research, solve problems, and discover new things. Like scientists, historians also have a specific method that they follow when examining the past and its current importance. We call this historical thinking. It’s a set of skills that historians use to evaluate and analyze primary and secondary source documents. Historians construct a meaningful and accurate picture of past events using the information that they have. They must make sure to use accurate information, which means it has to be credible and verifiable. They use their best evidence to explain events to their readers. The sources that they use are generally either primary or secondary sources.
A primary source is first-hand evidence of an event, object, person, or work of art. Examples of primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, newspapers, journals, diaries, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects.
A secondary source is a source that someone who did not experience something first-hand creates after an event. Examples of secondary sources includes books and articles.
Once a historian finds historical information, they need to verify its credibility and accuracy. The lesson asks students to consider whether primary or secondary sources are more credible and accurate and why. The lesson also includes an illustration that includes words to explain the concept of credibility. This illustration lists believability, unbiased, truthful, honest, and trustworthiness to describe credibility. When you combine this with expertise, historians know that the information they use is the best possible information that they can use.
Historians ask themselves “Did that really happen?” and use supporting evidence to answer that question. Historians are like detectives in this way. Detectives might interview eyewitnesses, compile evidence, and search for explanations. They assemble evidence and interview witnesses, which they use to determine what they think happened.
Historians use a similar method, but the evidence they use is from the past. For example, they might use old newspapers with interviews with eyewitnesses. Historians choose information carefully and verifies that information with multiple sources. They then use this to determine the most logical explanation of what happened. They have to be aware of credibility and accuracy.
Historians know that something is credible and accurate by verifying it with multiple sources and using a lot of primary source material. Once a historian feels that they have accurate sources, they can start to work on their story.
It’s important that historians follow this method because it’s important to know what happened in the past. The past affects the present and the future in many ways. We can explain why things are the way they are today using what we know about the past.
HISTORICAL SOURCES, EVIDENCE, AND CREDIBILITY LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Historical Sources, Evidence, and Credibility lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.
SOURCES ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
Students will work with a partner to complete the activity worksheet. Each pair will look at the provided pictures and will determine whether each is a primary or secondary source. They will also answer a few questions about primary and secondary sources.
PRIMARY SOURCE PRACTICE WORKSHEET
The practice worksheet asks students to find a primary source resource. They will also find a worksheet that matches their primary source document using the National Archives website. They will use this worksheet to analyze their primary source.
HISTORICAL SOURCES, EVIDENCE, AND CREDIBILITY HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
For the homework assignment, students will choose a historic subject, like a famous person or battle, and will find five primary and secondary sources related to that topic. They will also write down where they found the source and what kind of source it is. Finally, they will answer a question about how to determine if a source is credible or not.
Worksheet Answer Keys
This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet, and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.