Primary Sources to Help Students Develop Arguments and Empathy (Discussion)

Maritere's talk featured a primary source assignment she gave her 8th grade students that naturally increased engagement with the primary source. My favorite aspect of this project is how she took it through all of the stages of Bloom's, ending with a synthesized (and incredibly fun) demonstration of their learning. She concludes with her thoughts on revising this project, particularly this question she'd ask of her students: What questions do you still have about these perspectives? Or: What perspective is still missing?

I have had some difficulty in the past incorporating primary sources in such a way as to maintain high interest and engagement. What are some similar projects you all have incorporated into your curriculum to build engagement in the sources as well as empathy for historical perspectives?

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  • Thank you so much for your kind words about the project above. I strongly support using images of artifacts to gather responses in a way that does not involve long-term projects. For example, I created…

  • Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is very impactful. I used it at the end of a chapter in our current textbook that contained stories which seemed to perpetuate the "happy/grateful enslaved person" / "benevolent…

  •  I too found @Maritere's talk to be very interesting as well.  I was impressed with how the use of primary sources was so engaging and that students were asked for feedback so the project…

  •  , I agree it's often difficult to maintain that high interest level when working with primary sources (especially in middle school). I was inspired by Maritere's talk and the process she has students move through to get to that higher level of thinking. 

    One of the projects I found that kept my students engaged in using primary resources and making the connections between the past and present was the Little Big History Project, in which students trace the history of an object from the Big Bang to the Future. They must work with primary sources and show the development/ changes of the item over time. We completed the project with a community presentation at the end of the year. Some of the topics students chose were: balloons, toilets, yoga, tattoos, beer, bread, lipstick, baseball, and even magnets. This blog provides a little description of the activity. One of the things that sticks with students is the unequal access people around the globe have for resources, it also increases global awareness.

  • I am so glad to hear your were inspired and thank you for sharing your blog post. Looking forward to reading it and learning from it.

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