Week One: Review actual primary source document and analysis, introduce assignment, model with family portraits
Sample Lesson One: Reading Primary Source Document and Analysis
Objective: Students will be able to write an analysis of a primary source document in order to demonstrate their understanding of how historians might use these resources in their work.
1.) Do Now: As students enter the room, have the following prompt up on the board: Why and how do historians use primary documents? (Remember, at this point in the year, students will have been using primary documents regularly, so this will be a review for them). You can have students write a brief response, or turn and talk for a few minutes, before leading a brief discussion on the work of historians and how primary documents are important keys to understanding the past.
2.) Explain that today, in preparation for an upcoming project, we will practice writing our own analyses of a primary document. We're going to focus on a image from the early 20
century, from the tenement houses of New York. Review this time period briefly with students.
3.) Hand out the photograph analysis worksheet from the National Archives (it can be found here: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/photo_analysis_worksheet.pdf
Explain the process of examining photographs.
4.) Project or pass out one of Jacob Riis's iconic images. Guide students through the analysis process (observe, list, infer, question).
5.) Lead a brief discussion on the photographs, and what students could learn about life in the tenement houses from it. Explain that historians follow the same process, but go one step further in writing secondary texts about what they learn.
6.) Pass out primary document with brief written analysis (I might use a piece from
Major Problems in American History, Volume II
. It's also possible to find pieces from the National Archives. Here is one example of the Zimmerman Telegram, which is something I study with my students and would be familiar to them: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann/)
7.) Read analysis together and lead discussion as to how it analyzes and explains the importance of the document.
8.) Ask students to revisit their worksheet analyzing the Riis photograph. Give them time to write 1-2 paragraphs, explaining the photograph and what they learned about life in the tenements from it. Collect these paragraphs as students leave (this could also be homework, depending on timing).
9.) If there is time, students can share out their paragraphs, and the class can discuss the strengths and areas for improvement in some examples. This can also be done the next day in class.
Assessment: Written paragraphs analyzing Riis photograph.
Week Two: Plan fictional family tree, Complete first artifact, Peer feedback, Working time
Sample Lesson Two: Planning a Fictional Family Tree
Objective: Students will be able to map out an imagined American family that will reflect social and migratory patterns of the 20
1.) Do Now: Ask students to draw a map that represents their family. Don't give them any specific directions, but just say that it should include family members. Have students share out and discuss how they have chosen to visually represent their family.
2.) Explain that today students will be using family trees, which is one kind of map for a family, to create their imagined family. They will be responsible for mapping back five generations, in order to cover the 20
century. Explain that in real life, generations can look quite different, but for our purposes we are going to space them out 20-30 years. Pass out family trees and explain how to fill them in.
3.) Tell students that they should mentally plan who their family is before filling out the tree, and that they should fill it out in pencil in case they change their minds. You might want computers available so that students can look up historically accurate names and double check facts like immigration patterns to make sure they are not historically inaccurate.
4.) It may be necessary to model filling out a family tree, or to have a model ready so that students can understand the chronology of each generation.
5.) Give students most of the class to plan their families.
6.) At the end of class and for homework, ask students to use their completed family trees to identify potential artifacts/documents for each generation.
Assessment: Completed family tree.
Week Three: Complete all artifacts, present digitally, in small groups or to whole class
Grade Final Significant Task: Creating a Modern American Family through "Primary" and Secondary Source Documents
This task will ask you to be creative and scholarly as you tell the story of a modern American family. You will use your knowledge of American history to create "primary artifacts" and secondary source explanations that tell the story of a family living in New York today.
You will create an imaginary family that will represent American history. You can decide who these people are and how they arrived in New York. While you can base aspects of this family on your own family's history, you should not try to re-create your exact family history.
- Family Tree- In class you will map out the family's history in the 20
century. Think about when the various branches of the family tree came to America. Are there Native American ancestors in the family? How did ancestors arrive (immigration, slavery, etc.)? Your family can be very diverse.
- 5 Artifacts "Primary Sources"- In order to tell this family's history, you will create five artifacts from various points in the family's history (one for each of the last five generations). These can take a variety of forms including: journal entries, letters between family members, drawings, photographs (you can "stage" photographs from the past OR use ONE actual photograph), newspaper articles, ticket stubs, or any other item that you think family members might save and pass down. At least one "artifact" has to be written text (one page in length).
- Secondary Source Explanations- For each item, you must write a 1-2 paragraph explanation of the item from the perspective of a historian. Your explanations must answer the following questions: What is the item? What information does it reveal about the family's history? How does it relate to or reflect its time period?
- Themes: Class, Conflict, and Migration- As we have studied American history this year, we have touched upon the themes of class (high, middle, lower), conflict (wars and social conflicts between groups) and migration (movement from outside and within the country—think immigration and the Great Migration). Your items should somehow develop these themes. For example, you might include a letter from a father to his wife after moving north during the Great Migration to provide for his family (migration) or a dog tag from WWI (conflict).
Family Tree Worksheets:
Important Dates Pertaining to Immigration and Migration:
Students may be directed to the following websites in order to cross check their immigration narratives or teachers can create handouts with the dates most relevant to their work in class: