Five Minute Primary Source Lesson



Sometimes I feel a slump in my lesson planning creativity. During such an occurrence I saw a tweet from @TeacherToolkit which sparked interest. The title was catchy and so was the visual outline for the 5 Minute Lesson Plan. The website (which I just used as a trial) walked through writing a lesson plan. This isn’t a process I’m unfamiliar with, it’s just something I wanted inspiration with. The prompting questions did their job and prompted deeper planning and exploration of unused resources to teach the lesson.

I started to dig out resources discovered at Edcamps and Conferences from the past. I wanted to bring Primary Source resources into the class. The Smithsonian has a PDF that overviews primary sources and provides suggestions for using them. Edutopia provided an additional 6 recommendations for Primary Sources. Neither one of these were groundbreaking, but they are useful reminders of how many options you have and how easy it is to incorporate primary sources. Now that I felt inspired, I reflected and dug deeper.

My students love looking at maps and photos, and there are an abundant set of primary sources that would appeal to their interests and transition nicely into our unit on the United States and Canada. A perfect example is from DocsTeach with a Map of the United States and Canada in 1783.

National Humanities Center has collections of primary source documents and questions to accompany them. An interesting example for my students would be the poem about life in Pennsilvania (not a typo on my part) from 1692. Obviously I spent more than 5 minutes searching for resources. But the time was worth the payout. I found an entire units worth of interesting primary source documents that would lend authenticity to the discussions we would have in class.

The Library of Congress provides guides for analyzing different types of Primary Sources. For times I integrate historic maps, there is a guide for maps . For the lesson I’m planning next week the one that will best serve is for Analyzing Photographs.

So this might have seemed like a long ramble. The journey resulted in this:  LessonStudent ChartThere were other pieces to the lesson, like the chart for students to record their findings. For the final part of the project, students will submit their guess for where the photograph is and providing supporting evidence why they think that. The answers will be compiled on a Google Form, which will allow us to look at everyone’s answers without the fear of people knowing if you were wrong.

I always have some students who finish early, so they can play the TapQuiz Maps app for Canada or the United States. I will also post additional images of Canada/the United States that they can try to figure out through the same process using the Primary Source Analysis Guides.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
This entry was posted in Geography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s