Reading Like a Historian Intro Lessons
Wondering how to introduce students to historical thinking? The activities in our introductory lessons acquaint students with the historical thinking skills of sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading without the burdens of historical content knowledge.
Lunchroom Fight I - A fight breaks out in the lunchroom and the principal needs to figure out who started it. But when she asks witnesses what they saw, she hears conflicting accounts. Why might these accounts differ? As students wrestle with this question, they will hone the ability to reconcile conflicting claims, consider multiple perspectives and evaluate the reliability of sources. Not only does this lesson engage students, it helps to lay the foundation for historical thinking throughout the year.
Lunchroom Fight II - This lesson builds on our popular Lunchroom Fight activity. While the first Lunchroom Fight focuses specifically on sourcing, this lesson requires students to evaluate evidence by sourcing, contextualizing, and corroborating different eyewitness accounts. This lesson introduces historical thinking skills through engaging students to build a case for who started a fight in the lunchroom.
Evaluating Sources - Are all historical sources equally trustworthy? How might the reliability of a historical document be affected by the circumstances under which it was created? In this activity, students sharpen their ability to source documents and learn to think critically about what sources provide the best evidence to answer historical questions.
Evaluating Photographs - Historical photographs can provide rich information about the past, but students often need help learning to think of their strengths and limitations as evidence. In this lesson, students examine a contemporary photograph of a familiar scene to learn to think critically about photographs as evidence.
Make Your Case! - This lesson is about the skill of corroboration. To practice this historical thinking skill, students evaluate and corroborate different accounts of who vandalized a locker room and who started a fight in a lunchroom.
Snapshot Autobiography - What is history? And why do historical accounts differ? In this lesson, students create brief autobiographies and then reflect on the process to better understand how history is written. Why are some events included and others not? How does their version of events compare to others’ versions of the same event? Why do two historical accounts differ when both sides believe they are telling the truth? How would students prove that their version of events was true? Exploring these questions will give students insight into the nature of history and will prepare them to engage in historical thinking in future lessons.