1.  Spend about half (50%) of class time on interactive academic activities: developing new concepts or skills, discussing and reviewing assigned work, guided practice, developing higher level thinking skills, developing vocabulary, math, research skills, etc.



2.  Spend about one-third (35%) of class time on non-interacticve class activities: silent reading, written work, testing, etc.



3.  Spend less than 15% of class time on classroom management and organization: passing papers, explaining activities, arranging desks, lesson transitions, taking attendance, making announcements, etc.



4.  Understand and use appropriate instructional systems to assist students in the acquisition of information, skill building, concept development, development of higher level thinking skills, etc.



5.  Spend very little in-class time socializing with students, visitiors or aides.



6.  Plan daily activities in advance and make them clear to students: For example, writing the day's schedule and objectives on the board.



7.  Use a variety of academic activities during class time.



8.  Have students read aloud to assess comprehension, build vocabulary, etc.



9.  Give short quizzes and use other techniques to check for student understanding.



10.  Focus most instruction on the whole class or small groups rather than on individuals.



11.  Have an overview or review before presentation of new material and a concluding summery.



12.  Distribute opportunities for verbal responses equally among the students.



13.  Praise student successes and efforts.



14.  Rephrase or give clues to help students answer questions before diverting them to other students.



15.  Develop ideas through discussion and/or writing.



16.  Plan group and student interaction.


~Albert Einstein


Effective teachers are knowledgeable about the content and nature of the disciplines and are enthusiastic about the subjects they teach.  They also have a clear sense of the reasons why students benefit from the study of these subjects.



Integrate other Disciplines

Teachers at all grade levels integrate other disciplines into their teaching, looking at historical events in their geographical, political, social and economic contexts.



Included Multiple Perspectives

In order to gain a rich sense of the depth and power of history, teachers look at the past from multiple perspectives, exploring with their students the lives of groups traditionally ignored in history curricula, such as the poor, families, women, slaves and immigrants.



Accommodate Diverse Learners

Teachers select topics, find materials, use pedagogy and interact with students in ways that accommodate all learners.



Promote Curriculum across Grade Levels

Teachers pay heed to articulation across the grade levels.



Reflect and Improve Teaching Practices

Teachers use analysis of student work, reflection, research and discussions with peers to constantly improve their teaching practices.



~Stephen West


Knowledge is actively created and is not passively received.  Telling is not teaching.



Individuals create new knowledge by reflecting on their past physical and mental actions and by expressing these reflections they reveal their current level of understanding.



Substantive learning occurs in periods of conflict and confusion over long periods of time.



Members of a culture cooperatively establish ideas.



Opportunities for learning occur during social interaction involving collaborative dialogue, explanation, justification and

negotiation of meaning.


Lesson Title:

Framework Connection: (How does this lesson support the framework?)

Focus question: (What concept do you want to teach this lesson?)

Outcomes: (What will the students to be able to do at the conclusion of the lesson?  Provide four examples.)








Target Vocabulary: (What words do the students need to know to understand the concepts?)

Sources: (What photos, diaries, first-hand accounts will you use?)

Visuals: (What pictures, realia, charts, maps, etc. will you use?)


Motivation: (How will you start your lesson?)

Vocabulary Activities: (How will you teach and reinforce the target vocabulary?)

Guided Instruction: (What activities will you assign to insure understanding?  How will you use interactive learning, accomodate different learning styles, etc.?)

Integrating Language: (How will you include reading, writing, listening, speaking in your lesson?)

Assessment: (How will you check for understanding and mastery?)

Independent work: (What follow-up activities will you assign?)

by Tom Gibbons





What will students need to do to achieve the knowledge and skills identified in the standard(s) and learning outcomes of the lesson?

• analyze primary source documents

• view a video

• visit a museum

• research for information

• examine visuals (pictures, realia, charts, maps)

• role play a situation

• reenact a scene

• listen for information

• play a game

• make a game

• watch a performance

• participate in a debate

• create a historic newspaper

• write a poem

• write an essay

• write a story

• conduct an interview

• make an oral presentation

• sing a song

• write a song

• teach a lesson

• create a political cartoon

• construct a diorama

• develop a storyboard

• critique a piece of artwork

• create a piece of artwork

• make entries in a journal

• participate in a service learning activitiy

• draw a map

• make a collage

• create a time line

• complete a crossword puzzle

• create a crossword puzzle

What instructional strategies will the teacher provide to enable all students to successfully participate in the indentified learning opportunities?

Motivational Strategies: Before you begin...

• bingo

• realia

• picture books

• role play

• dress in "character"

• technology


Accommodations: What support systems or accommodations will be provided so that every student has the opportunity to learn?

• target vocabulary

• glossary of terms

• visuals

• integrated language

• extended activities

• independent work

• graphic organizers

• study guides

• technology

• cloze activities

• context clues

• audio visuals

• cooperative learning

• role play

• Reader's Theatre

• oral presentations that are modified (speak slowly, repeat, limit vocabulary and sentence length)

• readings that are modified

• demonstrations

• opportunities to practice

• interactive learning

• hands-on projects

• use of students' background knowledge

• T charts/Venn diagrams


What student product(s) and/or performance(s) will provide evidence of student learning?




• advertisement

• autobiography

• biography

• biographical sketch

• book report/review

• character portrait

• crossword puzzle

• description

• dialogue

• diary

• editorial

• essay

• game

• instructions

• invitations

• journal/log

• labels and captions

• letter: business, personal, to the editor, etc.

• magazine article

• memo

• notetaking/notemaking

• newspaper article

• persuasive writing

• poem

• postcard

• proposal

• questionnaire/survey

• Reader's Theatre

• research report

• rules

• resume

• script

• story

• test

• audiotape

• commercials

• debate

• dialogues

• dictate sentences, simple stories, story endings

• discussion

• dramatization

• first person narrative

• interview

• newscast

• oral presentation

• oral report

• play

• poetry reading

• rap

• role play

• skit

• song

• speech

• teach a lesson


• advertisements

• banner

• cartoon

• chart

• collage

• collection

• computer graphic

• construction

• data table

• design

• diagram

• display

• diorama

• drawing

• filmstrip

• graph

• graphic organizer

• grid/matrices

• KWL chart

• map

• model

• outline

• painting

• photograph

• poster

• scrapbook

• sculpture

• slide show

• storyboard

• T chart

• tableau

• time line

• Venn diagram

• webbing/mind map






What are primary sources?

Primary sources are authentic, first-hand accounts of history created by individuals who have either participated in or witnessed an event in the past.



They include:

Written Records such as documents, records, reports, letters, diaries, journals, and poetry;


Artifacts/Relia/Memorabilia such as tools, clothing, memorabilia and collectibles; and


Historical Visuals such as photographs, drawings, cartoons, artwork, and sculpture.


Many of the readings used in teaching history are secondary sources.  A secondary source is developed by selecting, summarizing and eliminating information about an event.  The most common secondary source used in schools is textbooks.  They are invaluable for providing information about a historical event, but they don't teach us how historians write history.


Why use primary sources?

Students need to work with primary sources in order to understand the process by which we interpret history and to think like historians.  Students need to use higher level critical thinking skills to judge the level of truth in the information and find out what is being left out.


Primary sources provide valuable information and insights not often available in traditional textbooks or writings.  Letters and memoirs often provide a personalized or emotional reaction to an event or circumstance.  They provide readers with a full understanding of the human condition and conflicting issues that arise from historical events and the actions of individuals.  They provide insights about the lifestyles, living conditions, opinions, viewpoints, and prejudices among people in different locales throughout time.


Using Caution

Because of the inherent belief among many that "anything presented in it's original form must be true" it is important to understand that primary sources, like oral historical accounts, are subject to the perceptions and biases of their creators.  Students need to understand that all primary sources reflect an author's interpretation of past events.


Just as the content of primary sources can reveal a great deal of historical information about people and places in the past, information that may be "missing" from documents, often indicates a particular bias or interpretation of ideas and events.  Laws and statutes that exclude women and minorities often reflect the attitudes of policy makers of the time.  Artwork, literature, and documentaries that depict one particular subculture over another as heroic or altruistic may promote unwarranted sterotyping and prejudicial behavior.


Most historians and educators agree that careful analysis of a variety of primary sources is critical in gaining a full perspective of the causes and effects, conflicts and compromises, and issues and events that have shaped our history and continue to effect our lives today.  The historical process enables students to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to question, interpret, and evaluate the many information sources and challenges they will face throughout their lives.  An educated, responsible citizenry needs to understand how point of view and bias affects evidence.  As we are immersed in the modern "age of information" we must be able to recognize how contradictions and limitations within any contemporary source affects the reliability and use of information needed to maintain a free society.

Questioning Techniques for Using Primary Sources


Students should be encouraged to ask and answer questions about any primary source.  Examples of questions that they should ask and answer are:

Who was the author and what do we know about this person?  Who was meant to see the primary source?


What kind of primary source is it? Is it in its original form?  What can we learn from the physical form of the primary source? (marks, handwriting)


Where is the primary source from? Is it a translation?


When was the primary source made, and how much time elapsed between the event and the time it was recorded?  What was going on at the time?


Why was the primary source made?  Was it meant to be private or public?  What was its purpose?


Is there any information missing from the document?

Where can primary sources be found?


Primary sources can be found in a number of locations

Locally: Family attic, hope chest, photo album, safety deposit box, neighborhood library, church, courthouse, newspaper, historical society, and cemetery.


State: State library, archives, museums, and historical associations


Nationally: National library, archives, museums, and historical associations



Start With What They Know...

Introduce students to primary sources by asking them to collect and share materials they may already possess, such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, drivers' licenses, report cards, collectibles, or photographs.  Ask students to identify information about themselves, other individuals, and the society in which they live based on the primary sources collected.  How might these sources be used by historians in describing people in the future?  Discuss how school, employment, medical, and family records could be used to develop generalizations about life in today's society.


Create a Time Capsule

Divide the class into groups of four to five students each.  Ask students to collect a variety of primary sources that "accurately" reflect the issues, events, and lifestyles of individuals in their local community, their region, their state, or even their country.  Sources should be governmental and private.


Assist students in identifying various locations for collecting current census figures, government files, newspapers, artifacts, personal diaries, and interviews with longtime residents.  Investigate local, state, and national historical societies, archives, and museums.  When each group has completed their investigative work, redistribute each time capsule to a new group.  Ask each group to critically analyze the contents of the "unknown" capsule to make the following conclusions:

What do the contents of the time capsule tell you about the issues, events, lifstyles, and belief systems of the individuals of that particular society?

What information is missing?

Does the time capsule provide a complete picture of the society?  Why or why not?


It's Their Word Against Mine...

Assist students in understanding the complexities of accurately documenting information by engaging them in the following activitiy.  Ask a student, parent, or staff member from your school (preferably someone unrecognizable by students) to walk into the classroom and inconspicuously remove an object from the front of the classroom.  After the individual has left, ask students to describe, in writing, the event that just occurred and the physical description of the "thief," without conferring with other students.  Ask students to share responses and address the following questions:

What just occurred?

What was the individual wearing?

What prompted his/her actions?

Are there any differences in the descriptions of the event that just occurred and the individual involved?

Speculate as to the reasons why differences may exist?

What does this exercise tell you about the interpretation of history from one source?

What strategies should be employed to accurately interpret events in history?


Through Reading and Writing Activities:

Analyzing Documents

The Chicago Neighborhood History Project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities has identified the following strategies for analyzing documents:


A.  Identifying the Document

1.  Author or source

2.  Title

3.  Date

4.  Type of document

5.  Proper bibliographic enttry for the document


B.  Putting the Document in Context

1.  Suggest two or three appropriate titles for this primary source

2.  Describe the purpose of the document or its intended audience.  Why was it written?

3.  Select some direct quotes or cite some specific data from the document which help explain its purpose.

4.  Where would you look for additional documents of this type?


C.  Using the Document

1.  List the most important pieces of information conveyed by the document

2.  What questions does the document suggest?


D.  Evaluating the Document

1.  Is the document reliable?  List any suspected errors or misleading statements in the document.

2.  Make a statement about the general utility of the document for your particular interest.


E.  Other Important Information

1.  A document may provide answers to questions about a topic.  However, it should also provoke new questions.  Be alert for these new possibilities and be sure to write them down.

2. Try not to draw final conclusions based on the analysis of only one document.  Remember, documents are only one type of authority used in the study of a topic.  Always use as many different sources as possible.


Other document analysis worksheets can be found at the National Archives:



Double Entry or Dialectical Journal

Students react to the document by making a dialectical journal.  Fold a paper in half lengthwise.  On the left side, the student will write quotations of their choice from the text or those suggested by the teacher.  On the right side, students will react to the quotations by evaluating information, reacting to the material, suggesting questions, making personal connections, and interpreting the information.  Other alternatives may include:

Metacognitive Journal

Divide the paper in half lengthwise.  Label the right side "What I Learned" and the right side "How I Came to Learn It."

Speculation About Effects

Divide the paper in half lengthwise.  Label the right side "What Happened," and the left side "What might/should happen as a result of this?"


Echo Reading

This is a method for students to access a diffucult piece of text.  Pair students together and ask one student to read the text while the second student reads along silently and then orally paraphrases what the first students has said.


Found Poem

Place students into groups of four.  Give each member of each group a copy of a written record and ask them to read it carefully.  Then ask them to underline phrases of four or five words that they particularly like for meaning, langugae, or imagery.  Give each student four strips of paper and ask them to write one phrase on each strip of paper.  Then ask the group to take their strips of paper and arrange them into a poem (it is not necessary to use every strip of paper).  Tell them not to worry about repeating phrases because they can be used to add emphasis by repetitions.  When their poem has a pleasing arrangement, ask them to copy it onto a piece of poster paper, title it, and decorate it for the class.


Gallery Walk

In this form of a gallery walk, the teacher places short written records and chart paper at different stations.  Each group spends a specified amount of time at each station examining the record and reacting to it by writing on the chart paper.  Reactions include interpretation, paraphrasing, questions, and analysis.  When time is called they move on to another station.  After the rounds have been made, one member of the group at each of the stations shares the comments written on the chart paper.


Historic Newspapers

Using primary sources for information, ask students to create a secondary source newspaper to depict the various issues and events during a specific historical period.  Include news articles, human interest stories, editorials, politial cartoons, letters to the editor, and classified sections.  Encourage students to cite accurate information and use formatting techniques from the time.


"I Am" Poem

Ask students to assume the persona of a character from a primary source.  Possible frames for the poem may include the following:

I am

I wonder

I hear

I see

I want

I am


I understand

I say

I dream

I try

I hope

I am



This is a good strategy for analyzing long records.  Assign each member of a cooperative group to a different expert group.  Each expert group will study a portion of the written record to analyze.  Reassemble students in their original groups to share infomation.



Students divide their paper into three parts and head each column with K, W, and L.  Prior to the learning process, ask students to record what they know about the topic under the column identified as K.  As you progress through the various learning activities, ask students to think about and record what they know about the topic under the column W.  At the conclusion of the learning, ask students to record what they have learned under the column L. The KWL chart can be a valuable tool for teachers in identifying prior knowledge, realizing students learning needs and desires to learn more, and assessing learning outcomes.


Paraphrase It

After reading a written record, ask individual students or pairs of students to paraphrase it in their own words either orally or in writing.


Project-based Learning

Create hands-on projects to enhance learning.  Examples may include:

Produce a craft from period of time depicted in a primary source.

Create a diorama to illustrate an event in history.

Design postcards from a different place and time.

Reconstruct scenes from a primary source.

Create a mobile depicting different facets or themes.



Students are asked to write for 2 or 3 minutes in reaction to a written record.  If students run out of ideas to write about, they are asked to repeat writing the last word over again until a new idea comes to mind.



RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Form, and Time.  When writing a RAFT, students assume a Role and write about a subject to a particular Audience.  The Form of the written record is usually suggested by the teacher.  Possible Forms are: newspaper articles, diary entries, letters, interviews, speeches, or other written documents.  The T stands for time or tense.  Will it be written at the time of the record or later?  An example of a RAFT is using a first hand account of Louis XVI's execution during the French Revolution, a student writes a newspaper account for an audience of Revolutionaries the day after the event.  By writing to different audiences, students learn to look at historical events from different points of view.


Reciprocal Reading

In order to gain a deeper understanding of a written record, ask two students to read to each other.  One student asks questions that come to mind, and the second student then answers as many questions as possible.  The roles are then reversed.  Students stop at the end of strategic parts and summarize what they have learned about the written record in a joint writing assignment.



Reflection of a story extends beyond wishful or superficial undertstandings.  By reflecting on the lives of the people in a primary source, students learn to search for and find solutions which caused the problem instead of restating the facts or responding superficially.  Students learn to reflect on life by writing about solutions for the problems and challenges that occur in the lives of people living in any society.


Return Letter

After reading a primary source letter, have the students answer the letter with their reactions, comments and questions.  Ask them to quote portions of the letter and make specific comments on those parts.  Students may want to mimic the style of the author and even some of the letter writing conventions that they used to fold the letter and seal it.


Spider Webbing

After reading a written record, ask students to write down ideas that are interesting, things they don't understand, and intriguing ideas in the question form.  Ask students to choose one question they would like to explore in depth and place it in the center of their paper.  This question becomes the center of the "web" with lines radiating from it with their conjectures, possible explanations, more questions, tangent ideas, etc.  Students discuss their webs in cooperative groups.



Some documents, like diary entries or narratives about journeys in letters, generate visual images.  Ask a group of students to create a tableau, or frozen picture, of a scene from a written record, and then have a student read an appropriate passage from the primary source as narration.  For example,  after reading an account of dining in a colonial house, students will recreate the description using school tables and artifacts recreated from paper and cardboard.



Students create timelines as a type of graphic organzier in which the chronological relationship of events depicted in a primary source.


Venn Diagrams

Students create overlapping circles known as Venn Diagrams to chart similarities and differences between people, events, places,  etc.  Distinct or contrasting features are listed in the outer circles, and the similar features are written in the overlapping section(s).



Through Art and Dramatization:

Character Reenactment

Identify a particular individual for historical study.  Advise students to use a variety of primary sources to gain a full understanding of the complexities of the historical figure, enabling them to accurately portray the character in historical dialogue, a skit, or other form of dramatization.  Primary sources for information may include documents, letters, diary entries, personal journals, and photographs.


Debate Between Historical Characters

Engage students in a debate between historical figures surrounding actual events or hypothetical scenarios.  For example, ask students conduct research, using primary sources to:

reenact the historic debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

recreate a hypothetical debate between Abraham Lincoln and the mother of a Confederate soldier

role play a hypothetical dialogue or debate between members of the same family who hold opposing allegiances to Confederate and Union causes.

create hypothetical dialogue or debate between Jefferson Davis.  President of the Confederacy and a member of the NAACP in today's society



Encourage students to explore their creative "juices" by producing a documentary around a specific historical character, event, or issue.  Using primary sources as references, allow students to use the following mediums to accurately portray people and events of the past:




slide show

power point presentation



Hot Seat

Ask one student to play the role of the author or a primary source.  Ask other students to formulate questions for the author.  Based on reserach and analysis of primary sources, the author responds to each question asked.


Open Mind

After examining a primary source, ask students to draw an outline of a head.  Inside the outline write and draw what the author of a source thinks, says, and feels in words and pictures.


Puppet Shows

Ask students to construct simple stick puppets using "paper doll cut outs" or other materials.  Students perfom puppet shows.


Readers Theatre

Readers Theatre is a performance read aloud by students.  The script is written by the students with the help of their teacher.  Students create a dramatic performance by examining primary sources and extracting or creating dialogue between historical characters.



Give each student a piece of blank, unlined paper.  Ask them to fold it once vertically and once horizontally through the center making four rectangles of equal size.  After reading the primary source, tell them to write one main idea from the reading at the top of each rectangle and illustrate it with a picture or symbols.  Then have them write a suitable quotation from the reading at the bottom of every rectangle.


Talking with Historical Characters

Identify a particular individual for historical study.  Ask students to examine a variety of primary sources to gain a full understanding of the opinions or viewpoints held by the historical character on a specific topic.  Ask students to react to the character's viewpoints by constructing a letter, creating an interview situation, writing a poem, or using interactive journals.  Correspondences with historical characters should include reactions, responses, pointed questions and requests for more information.  Based on gathered reserach, ask students to hypothetically respond to questions "through the eyes of the historical character".



After reading a written record, ask students to draw a picture of images suggested.  For example, student may read an excerpt from the journals of Lewis and Clark and then draw a picture of one of the events described.




Examples for Studying Different Facets of History/Social Science:

Migration Patterns

Identify a specific location for the study of migration patterns.  Collect a number of census reports encompassing various periods of time.  Ask students to critically read the data to make conclusions about the following:

How has the population density changed over time?

Describe other changes concerning the demographic make-up of the community.

Describe changes concerning occupations, socio-economic status of individuals, size of families, and living conditions over time.

What circumstances, natural or man made may have occurred to influence the changes identified above?

Reflecting upon the census process recently conducted, speculate as to the authenticity of the findings.  Do you believe all groups were accurately identified?  Why or why not?

What circumstances may have effected the authenticity of census data collection in the past?

What suggestions can you made to improve the authenticity of census reports?


Public Policies Past and Present

Identify a particular social, economic, or political issue in present society that has prompted the establishment of a public policy.  Examples may include issues of homelessness, vandalism, education, trade, monopolies, voting, or legislation.  Collect public policy documents that address the identified public issue in the present and from the past.  Ask students to analyze and compare the various policies throughout time in order to make the following conclusions:

According to public policy, how was the identified public problem or issue addressed in the past?

How is it addressed today?

Describe the changes

What issues, events, or belief systems have transpired that may have prompted changes in attitudes and policies in addressing the same public issue or problem over time?



(Click onto Strategies for Integrating Geographic Literacy for ideas and strategies for integrating geography into historical study)

Map Analysis

Information provided by maps often influences important decisions in political, social, and economic arenas.  By examining maps, students can gain insight about the knowledge base of cartographers, explorers, politicians and others regarding the geographical features of a specific location over time.


For example, by examining a world map available to Christopher Columbus before his first voyage, students can readily see how his "discovery" of land was easily mistaken as the entryway to the East Indies.  Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, maps reflecting the travels of European explorers and settlers depicted North America with increased accuracy, not as a continent that physically grew in size over time.  Political maps that depict changing boundaries provide much information about policies, events, and issues that occurred throughout history.  When presenting maps as primary sources for historical study, ask students the following questions:

When was this map drawn?

What area is depicted in the map?

Why do you suppose this map was drawn?  What purpose did it serve?

What political, social, or economic events or issues were influential in drawing the map?

What clues can you find on the map that provides information about the perceptions, culture, or viewpoints of the cartographer?

How might this map be used to influence political decisions?

Compare this map with a map of the same area from another time period.  What conclusions can you make about changes you may see?





Artifacts provide a tangible, hands-on approach to historical reserach that is especially valuable for kinesthetic learners.  They can provide valuable insights into human behaviors and experiences and can stimulate interest in literature and further study.


Analyzing Artifacts

The American Association for State and Local History has identified the following questioning strategies when evaluating artifacts:

1. Reading with your hands. Touch the artifact.  How was it made?

2. How was it used? Practical function of the artifact within society.  The physical act of using the artifact will make students more sensitive to the artifact and others like it.

3. What was its environment? Place the artifact in an environment of related artifacts with which it would have been used, such as historic site or historic site representation.

4. How did it develop through time? Put the artifact into a chronology.  Compare it with similar modern day artifacts.

5.  What other cultures had or currently have artifacts? Make comparisons with similar artifacts of other cultures.  Certain artifacts of certain cultures can tell a lot about the values of that culture.

6. How has this artifact been influenced?  Influence in design and decoration are partly related to practical use, partly the result of historical development, partly the result of a changing environment and partly decided by cultural traditions.

7. Does the artifact have functional meanings or values?  Wherever there are deeply rooted aesthetic, mythical, or iconological values or whenever people express feelings about an object, the function of that object is more than practical.


Archeological Digs

Collect a number of artifacts from specific time period.  Recreate an archeological experience for students by burying artifacts in a dirt plot or bin.  Divide the plot into quadrants or subplots.  Divide students into groups and assign specific tasks for each member of the group (diggers, sifters, recorders).  Demonstrate how to carefully "dig" for artifacts using trowels, brushes, and screening devices.  Ask students to record specific information about each item retrieved including its location in the plot, its depth within the plot, a sketch of the item, its weight, and dimensions.


Mystery Kits

Collect a variety of artifacts distinctive to a particular region and period of time.  Allow students to carefully handle artifacts to make predictions about the culture and people represented.


Grandmother's Trunk

Collect a variety of artifacts that represent a series of events that have occurred over a period of time revolving around a single person or community.  Careful examination can demonstrate how change occurs around the experiences of one person or community and how information in a family can be passed down from one generation to another.  Artifacts should represent events in the individual's life as well as events surrounding the family, community, city, state, nation, and the world.


Historical Time Capsule

Ask students to collect a variety of primary sources that "accurately" reflect the issues, events, and lifestyles of individuals from a particular time in history.  Sources should be governmental and private.  Assist students in identifying various locations for collecting census figures, government files, newspapers, artifacts, personal diaries, and interviews.  Investigate local, state, and national historical societies, archives, and museums.  Ask students to critically analyze the contents of the capsule to make the following conclusions:

What do the contents of the time capsule tell you about the issues, events, lifestyles, and belief systems of that particular society during that particular time in history?

What information is missing?

Does the time capsule provide a complete picture of the society?  Why or why not?




ideas for using historical visuals

The image portrayed in a photo, sketch, painting, cartoon, sculpture, or other visual often reflects the interpretation, background, and interest of the artist.  Careful observation and critical questions can prompt inquiry and further research into specific fields of study depicted in the image.


Analyzing Visuals

Effective questioning may include:

What was your immediate impression?  Who and what do you see?  What feelings does it evoke in you?

Describe what is happening: Is there anything significant in the background of the image?

Describe the people: Does the image reflect physical intimacy or distance? Analyze the body language of the individuals and/or the group? What moods or emotions are depicted.  Pay careful attention to placement of body parts, general body posture, and facial expressions.

Geographical Information: Where is the place or location of the image? Is it commonly found or unique?  Describe the landscape in terms of terrain, climate, vegetation, animal life, and other physical features.

Use of the Land: How is the landscape used? Does the evidence suggest long or short-term utilization? Is there evidence of trade, urbanization, transportation, communication, or technology?  If present, what does the architecture suggest regarding building materials, use of labor, lifestyles, sophistication and the influence of design.

Political Climate: Are there visible boundaries or barriers?  Is there evidence of government in operation, symbols, constraints, or ownership systems in place.

Change: Is there evidence of change over time?

Personal Connectedness: What "moves" you about this image?  What memories or experiences does it stir in you?  Is there anything that disturbs you?  How do you identify with the people in the image?  How are you alike?  How are you different?  Would you want to associate with the people in the image as a friend or family member?  Why or why not?


Before and After

After studying and discussing a photo or picture from a historic event, ask students to draw a picture about what happened before and after the event was recorded.


Changing Technology

Study the change in technology over time by selecting a subject like communication, transportation, medicine, home appliances, etc.  Collect old photographs that show this subject by searching the Internet (Library of Congress and the National Archives, the library, and textbooks.  Study these photographs and discuss the technology and how it worked, how these changes affected people's daily lives, health, etc.


Daily Life

Distribute to each student a picture of people in the past doing ordinary things (picnicking, shopping, working, etc.).  Ask students to describe the sounds, smells, sights, feelings that might be conveyed through the picture(s).  Use student responses to make generaliztions about the setting, issues, and events that may have occurred during the period of time depicted in the picture(s).


Gallery Walk

Post different pictures around the room.  Ask students to walk around the room and select one or two pictures to examine.  Distribute a graphic organizer divided into four sections to each student.  Ask students to examine the picture and respond to the prompts in each of the four squares:

Description - give a detailed physical description of placement, color, etc.

Interpretation - speculate about what is happening in the picture.

Analysis - examine how placement, light, line, color, and missing items make a statement to the viewer.

Judgement - speculate about what the artist or photographer is trying to say.


Jigsaw Puzzle

Copy four pictures and cut them into irregular pieces.  Ask students to work in pairs to reassemble each picture.  After critically examining each piece, ask students to give an accurate description of the image.


Police Artist

Working in pairs, ask students to give a detailed oral description of a visual to their partner who is the "police artist".  The "police artist" sketches the picture as it is described.  Compare the completed sketch with the original.  Discuss the similarities and differences.


Sell It!

Use propaganda posters or advertisements to understand the issues, events, and lifestyles of people during different periods of time.  Ask students to answer:

What is the message?

Who is the message directed toward?

What tactics are used?

What information is conveyed?

Who endorses it?



Working in groups of 2 or 3, ask students to place a series of four visuals depicting the same subject over time into chronological order.  Ask students to describe what is happening in each picture and why they are placed in the order they are in.



Collect  pictures depicting fashion, design, or architecture over time.  Speculate why changes may have occurred.  For example, change may have occurred because of the availability of certain raw materials, new discoveries, cultural influences, new manufacturing techniques, economic factors, changing philosophies, etc.



Make an overhead transparency of a visual image of someone participating in an historic event.  Project the image on an overhead projector.  Ask a student to stand in front of the image and take on the role of the individual depicted.  Ask the student to convey his/her feelings as the historical character and respond to questions from