Unit 1 - Understanding and Defining Primary Sources


Ten-year-old Mollie Steuben topping beets. Many children of this age put in a full day's work, and many begin younger. The work is hard and the children sometimes cut themselves or are "hooked" by the long tooth on the end of the blade. Mollie and her two sisters, 12 and 14 yrs. old, work from 6 A.M. to 5 P.M., near Sterling. Photograph and annotation courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Lesson 1 - Defining Primary and Secondary sources and Discriminating Between Them

Materials: Set of 10 images on the Primary Source Sort page

Unit 1 Screencast

Activity: In this lesson, you will work in your assigned small group - assignments are sent via email and each group is assigned a 'team leader.' Your task is to determine whether or not the included documents are a primary or secondary source document. Understanding the definitions of primary and secondary sources that you will learn in the screencast of this Unit, you will use your private wiki page to 'sort' the photos with your groupmates, providing your rationale for each item. Go to the Primary Source Sort activity page for your small group to begin this activity. Be sure to watch the screencast in the primary sort activity area that demonstrates how to evaluate whether a source is primary or secondary. Finally, consider how you might conduct this primary/secondary sort with your students. Would you use an online collaborative space like ours? Would you have a pile on tables and have students work in small groups? A 'gallery walk?' A 'think-pair'share? Would you model the discrimination process with one document first? Many ideas to keep in mind about your own students as you learn about primary source documents.

  *Click on the "edit" tab at the top of the wiki page to type on the page.  
  *Be sure to type your comments directly under each image, and save all of your edits in the wiki.
  *Note! If you click on the image, it will open a page with a larger image.  When you're ready, use your web browser's
  'back' button to go back to the group's Primary Source Sort page.

Reflection: After your group completes its Primary Source Sort, visit the main discussion page set up for the Primary Source Sort. Each team leader should type the group's final decision for each image, including the group's overall rationale for the decision. The instructor will also comment on each image in the Source Sort, to wrap up the facilitation of this discussion, and answer any questions. Additional discussion commentary from groups is welcome! Such as...some reflections about how individuals in your group might use this activity with their students.

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