Class 9: Close Reading Historical Documents


This class will include two student-led lessons and content originally planned for class 7.

Student- led lessons by:
Justin Loye | Zoom Video
Nicolas Vavuris | Zoom Video with some content on NearPod

Class Session | Zoom Video

Teachers can use historical documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But document-based  instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful:

  1. The right documents. (shouldn’t be reliant on background knowledge)
  2. Knowing how to “read” the historical document.
  3. Letting students discover their own patterns, then asking students to describe, compare and defend what they found.
  4. Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.

In Class 9 we will practice some strategies for assisting students to more closely read a document (in all their multimedia formats) by answering three Common Core questions. Broad version:

  1. What does it say?
  2. How does it say it?
  3. What’s it mean to me?

More specifically, what do we mean by close reading? Teachers can guide students with scaffolding questions that explore “texts” (in all their formats).

Key Ideas and Details:

What does the text say? Identify the key ideas. What claims does the author make? What evidence does the author use to support those claims?

Craft and Structure:

Who created the document? What’s their point of view / purpose? How did the text say it? How does it reflect its historic time period?

Integration of Knowledge and ideas

Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text. Recognize disparities between multiple accounts. Compare text to other media / genres. How does it connect to what we’re learning? 

And what’s it mean to me?

How does the document connect to my life and views? The author is trying to convince me of … I do (or don’t) trust this document because … What historic “voices” are missing?

Assignment 9: Close Reads | Close Reads 20-A9

Short Reading Assignment for next week. Our class will be on voting rights in honor of the election. Read Axios Deep Dive: Race and voting in America

Students will design a learning activity that feature at least three historical documents. Each document should be supported with scaffolding questions that guide the user to a close reading of the historical content. You can use prompts (such as above) inspired by the SHEG Historical Thinking Chart.

The three documents should fall within a theme or era. That can also serve to help design of lesson title and featured image.

All lesson content can be directly displayed in your post. Or you could embed content from another platform – Google suite, NearPod, etc.

Be sure your blog post has:

  1. Featured image and clever title
  2. Target student group. Grade, course.
  3. Lesson context
  4. Three historical documents with close reading prompts.
  5. “Teacher’s guide” to what you would expect for student answers.
  6. Where you got the document(s). Include working URL. (Be sure it’s in public domain)

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