Topic of lesson:
What are primary sources? What are secondary sources? Why are they important?
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the difference between primary and secondary sources. Students will recognize that primary materials are created by eyewitnesses or participants in an event and that secondary sources are derived from primary sources.
Handout 1: "What are primary sources?" (see text of unit); Worksheet 1: "Who Was There?"; primary and secondary sources in a variety of formats (books, magazine articles, newspaper articles, printouts of web pages, maps, charts, government documents, memorabilia (reproductions of), oral histories, etc. related to Titanic and wireless (see "Materials for Classroom Use"); additional primary and secondary sources connected with any other topic and time period (especially those of different types than about Titanic like an article of clothing from the fifties or sixties, for example); chart paper with these column headings: "What We Know...Or Think We Know" and "How We Know" to record class work; chart paper with column headings: "They Were There" and "What They Created"; scrap paper for each student; set of flash cards for each student: PRIMARY on one and SECONDARY on the other;
Day 1: Engage the students by asking them what they know or think they know about the sinking of Titanic on April 15, 1912. Record these on chart paper under the heading "We Know..." (include "?" next to those items students are unsure of). Ask them how they "know" what they "know" and record these as well under the heading of "How We Know". Review definitions of primary (generated by eyewitnesses and participants) and secondary sources (developed from primary sources). Review the list of "How We Know"and put a "P" beside those that students consider are primary and "S" beside those that are secondary. Explain why primary sources are important to historical research. On another sheet of chart paper, generate a list of people who could be considered eyewitnesses or participants "They Were There". Be sure to include in the discussion what actually should be considered "the event": just the sinking itself (a few hours) or other things that happened before the sinking (perhaps even in the construction of the ship) and as well as after. Include names eyewitnesses/participants when possible. Next, assign students to small groups and distribute worksheet 1, assigning the time period that each will focus on. Distribute a variety of general resources as well as those supporting the time period they will be asked to consider. After competing the assignment, each group then shares its list of eyewitnesses/ participants and the teacher records, noting overlaps and adding names. Students are asked to bring in any Titanic materials they might own or have found online.
Day 2: Review and revise the list of eyewitness/participants. Review handout 1: "What are primary sources?" which includes a listing of different kinds of primary sources. After distributing scrap paper, ask each student list at least three eyewitnesses/ participants from the chart along with some kind of primary source that could be connected with the person. (Example: first class passenger - letter describing ship board life). The teacher will record these as well as other suggestions on the chart. This is the time for the teacher to discuss where there might be under-representation of individuals or groups in the historical record (i.e., first class versus third class passengers). The teacher then distributes a set of Primary and Secondary flash cards to each student. Using a variety of primary and secondary materials both related to Titanic and not, the teacher briefly describes the item and asks student to hold up the Primary or Secondary flash cards. Discuss the answers.
Teacher notes participation in the flash card activity.
*****Worksheet #1: Who Was There?*****
Group members _________________________________
With your group, brainstorm who could have been an eyewitness or participant in your assigned time period. Use your background knowledge as well as the resources at your table. Record your answers below.
___1. Outfitting of Titanic (winter 1911/1912) and departure Tues. April 9, 1912 until
Sun. evening April 14 at 11:40
Preparation of the ship, departure from Southhampton, England (Tues. April 9), and westward sailing
___2. Sat. April 14 11:40 PM through Sun. April 15 8:30 AM
Iceberg struck, Titanic sinks (2:20 AM), and last survivors rescued by Carpathia
___3. Mon. April 15 through July 3, 1912
The world waits for the Carpathia's arrival in New York City (Thursday evening April 18) through conclusion of American and British hearings
___4. After the summer of 1912 until now
More information is revealed as survivors continue to tell their stories and more information is revealed; the discovery of Titanic by Robert Ballard in 1985 and the movie Titanic lead to additional information