LAFS.1112.RH.2.6

Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
General Information
Subject Area: English Language Arts
Grade: 1112
Strand: Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12
Idea: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning
Date Adopted or Revised: 12/10
Date of Last Rating: 02/14
Status: State Board Approved

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This benchmark is part of these courses.
2102310: Economics (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2102320: Economics Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2102380: The American Economic Experience: Scarcity and Choice (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2020 (course terminated))
2102390: The American Economic Experience: Scarcity and Choice Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
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2100480: Visions and Countervisions: Europe, U.S. and the World from 1848 Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2106310: United States Government (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2106320: United States Government Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2106450: The American Political System: Process and Power (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019 (course terminated))
2106460: The American Political System: Process and Power Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2100310: United States History (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
7921015: Access United States Government  (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
7921025: Access United States History (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
7921020: Access Economics (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019, 2019 and beyond (current))
2100315: United States History for Credit Recovery (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2102315: Economics for Credit Recovery (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2102345: Economics with Financial Literacy Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2106315: United States Government for Credit Recovery (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
7921040: Fundamental Economics (Specifically in versions: 2013 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))
7921042: Fundamental Economics with Financial Literacy (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))
7921022: Access Economics with Financial Literacy (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2102372: Personal Financial Literacy (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2018, 2018 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2102374: Personal Financial Literacy Honors (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2018, 2018 - 2019, 2019 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
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1005352: Humane Letters 3 Literature Honors (Specifically in versions: 2020 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
1005353: Humane Letters 4 Literature (Specifically in versions: 2020 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
1005354: Humane Letters 4 Literature Honors (Specifically in versions: 2020 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

Railroads Change Florida: Governor Milton vs. David Yulee: A Structured Academic Controversy:

During the American Civil War, the Confederate and state governments faced shortages of critical building materials, ammunition and other supplies. Railroad iron was particularly scarce. David Yulee's Florida Railroad was one of Florida's few tracks in place when the war began. Governor John Milton and Yulee bitterly disagreed over the necessity of removing tracks from the Florida Railroad.

In this activity, students carry out a structured academic controversy. Structured academic controversies are designed to explore uncertainty in history - the same uncertainty faced by historical actors as they approached difficult choices in their own time. Students will focus on understanding the arguments of both sides.

Type: Lesson Plan

Poverty in America:

Using NY Times articles and interactive features, students learn about the historical basis for the "War on Poverty", modern vs. historical factors that determine poverty, and compare approaches for combating poverty. Students will practice noting bias when examining sources to draw their own conclusions.

Type: Lesson Plan

Salem Witch Trials:

This web resource from Discovery Education helps students analyze the significance of the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s through a study of several primary and secondary source materials. While synthesizing the information from these documents with details present in Arthur Miller's commentary on a 20th-century phenomenon, the hunting of communists as if they were witches, students will recognize the lasting impact of the hysteria. After reading Miller's The Crucible, students will modernize a key scene according to rubric guidelines provided on the site.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Guatemala:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How and why did the U.S. fight the Cold War in Guatemala? The teacher begins by explaining how covert actions were part of the Cold War. Students read 2 brief accounts of the CIA takeover from recent textbooks. Students answer questions in pairs. Class discussion: Why does each textbook include details the other leaves out? Students then read a declassified CIA document-an assassination list with names deleted-and discuss: how does this document challenge the textbook accounts? A final class discussion attempts to place this incident in the larger context of what students have learned about the Cold War.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was the U.S. planning to go war with North Vietnam before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? The teacher begins by showing a map of Vietnam (PowerPoint) and giving students extensive background information-and a timeline-about U.S. involvement in the conflict. Students then review 4 documents: 1) the text of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 2) a memo from McGeorge Bundy to LBJ, 3) a telegram from State Secretary Rusk to the Vietnamese embassy, and 4) the transcript of a phone conversation between Bundy and LBJ. Students answer extensive guiding questions for all documents and write a paragraph-length response to the central question, corroborating all that they have learned. A final class discussion evaluates the evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Women in the 1950s:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Is the image of the "happy 1950s housewife" accurate? The teacher first introduces the time period and some of its features: the baby boom, the GI Bill, suburbia, Leave it to Beaver. The teacher then shows images of the "happy housewife" from 50s-era publications. In groups, students analyze 2 documents: a Harper's magazine article on suburbia and a passage from Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. They complete a graphic organizer that includes a hypothesis: does the stereotype seem true? Students then do the same with 2 more documents: secondary source analyses by Joanne Meyerowitz and Alice Kessler-Harris. The class completes the graphic organizer and shares final hypotheses in a group discussion: Should we believe the stereotype? How about the experience of minority women?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Civil Rights Act:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was JFK a strong supporter of Civil Rights? First, the teacher streams a video clip from Discovery Education on JFK and civil rights. Students form a hypothesis and discuss whether JFK was "strong" on civil rights based on this. Students then read a 1963 JFK speech supporting the Civil Rights Act; as a class, they answer sourcing, close reading and context questions and revisit their hypothesis. Students then read John Lewis's controversial original draft of the speech he delivered at the March on Washington. They answer guiding questions which corroborate both documents and attempt to reach a conclusion. If there is time, the teacher may bookend the lesson with another clip which shows how LBJ signed the eventual law into action.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Great Society:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was the Great Society successful? Students first read LBJ's "Great Society" speech and answer sourcing, close reading and context questions about it before discussing as a class. The teacher then hands out a list of Great Society programs and asks: Which have you heard of? Which do you think were successful? Students then watch a film clip about the Great Society, streamed via Discovery Education. This is followed up with 2 secondary sources: a "Pro" perspective from historian Joseph Califano and a "Con" perspective from Thomas Sowell. They fill out a graphic organizer in groups and discuss: Which historian is more convincing? What kind of evidence does each use to make his case? How do these arguments still play out today?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Montgomery Bus Boycott:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Montgomery Bus Boycott succeed? The teacher first introduces the boycott and Rosa Parks by streaming a film clip from historicalthinkingmatters.org. Students then break into 3 groups and look at a textbook account of the boycott and a timeline, making a "claim" as to why the boycott succeeded and sharing it with the whole class. The groups then corroborate with 2 more documents-a letter by Jo Ann Robinson and a memo by Bayard Rustin-and make another claim. Finally, 2 more documents-a letter by Virginia Durr and a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.-are added to the mix, and students formulate and share a final claim. In a final class discussion, students reflect on how their claims did/did not change as they encountered more evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Truman and MacArthur:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Americans respond to President Truman's decision to fire General MacArthur? The teacher begins by explaining how MacArthur wanted to invade China to resolve the Korean War stalemate in 1951 and why Truman fired him for insubordination. Students are asked to make a prediction: what do you think the reaction was to the firing of this popular general? Students then analyze 3 documents: 1) a memo to Truman tabulating the letters he received after the firing (pro vs. con), 2) a letter by AMVETS supporting the firing, and 3) a very critical letter from a woman in Texas. For the last 2, students answer questions on a graphic organizer in groups. A whole group discussion follows and a quick debriefing on the impacts of the war's conclusion are presented.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Korean War:

In this lesson, students analyze secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who started the Korean War? The teacher begins by first explaining that textbooks can be biased sources and then uses a brief PowerPoint to show the geography of Korea and why/when war began there. Students then form pairs and read 2 accounts of the war: one from a South Korean textbook and another from a North Korean book. For both, students not only summarize and answer questions, but they must identify which source is which (North or South Korea?) and use textual details to prove it. In a class discussion, students share their answers. If time remains, the class may corroborate these sources with their own class textbook.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Cold War:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who was primarily responsible for the Cold War: the United States or the Soviet Union? The teacher begins with a timeline and brief PowerPoint to set up early Cold War chronology. Students then receive 2 documents-Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech and the "Truman Doctrine" speech-answer guiding questions and formulating an initial (probably pro-American) hypothesis. They then corroborate this with another 2 documents-a telegram by Soviet ambassador Novikov and a critical speech by Henry Wallace-and formulate another (perhaps more sympathetic to the Soviet position) hypothesis. Students share answers and discuss as a class: which hypothesis is more believable? What further evidence would you like to see?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Atomic Bomb:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How should we remember the dropping of the atomic bomb? First, students are told that they will choose an appropriate photo to accompany a U.N. website commemorating the dropping of the bomb. Students are then introduced to 2 narratives about WWII: "Hiroshima as Victimization" (the Japanese point of view) vs. "Hiroshima as Triumph" (the American point of view). The class is then divided into 2 halves, each of which looks at a variety of source documents-anecdotes, letters, and data-through its side's point of view only. Students then form groups of 4 to choose which image should be used in the "website." Each group shares its image and explains why they chose it. In a final discussion, the class talks about whether the bomb should have been dropped and whether they can second-guess a decision like Truman's.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Japanese Internment:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why were Japanese-Americans interned during World War II? The teacher first distributes a timeline, which the class reviews together. Students then view a government-made newsreel from 1942 explaining the rationale for internment. This is followed by 4 more documents, including the "Munson Report," an excerpt from the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v Korematsu, and the 1983 report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. For each, students answer guiding questions and formulate a hypothesis: according to the document, why was internment necessary? A final class discussion has students determine which document(s) best explain what occurred.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Zoot Suit Riots:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Zoot Suit Riots? The teacher first provides background information on the incident and then the class looks at their textbook account and answers brief questions. Students then form pairs and analyze 2 documents: 1) a Los Angeles Daily News account of the riots and 2) a letter from the Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth, addressed to U.S. Vice President Wallace. For both, students answer guiding questions on a graphic organizer. A final class discussion contextualizes and corroborates the documents: Is one more reliable? What caused the riots?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: New Deal SAC:

In this lesson, designed to follow a more general study of the New Deal, students analyze primary and secondary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was the New Deal a success or a failure? Students receive 7 documents, including a "fireside chat" by FDR, an oral interview, a speech by a WPA representative, unemployment statistics, and song lyrics by the Carter Family. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group to analyze the documents using a graphic organizer. Each pair presents the argument to the other that the New Deal was either (Pair A) successful or (Pair B) a failure. Only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Social Security:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Which historical account of Social Security is more accurate? Students begin by responding to a prompt: should out-of-work Americans receive government assistance? The teacher then streams a video on the New Deal and its critics, including Huey Long, followed by discussion. Students then look at the summarized views of 2 historians, Carl Degler and Barton Bernstein. In pairs, students summarize and discuss. They then read 3 primary source documents: 1) a 1935 speech by FDR, 2) the testimony of NAACP spokesman Charles Houston before Congress, and 3) a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by an anonymous critic of Social Security. For each, students answer guiding questions. In a final class discussion, students corroborate the documents and use them to side with the views of 1 historian-Degler or Bernstein-over the other.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Mexican Labor in the 1920s:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What was life like for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the 1920s? Students look at 3 documents: 1) an oral interview of a Mexican immigrant, 2) a traditional Mexican corrido ballad, and 3) a 2003 article from Journal of Social History that contains data on lynching. For each, students complete questions on a graphic organizer in groups. Class discussion: do you trust these documents? What other information would you like to see?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Marcus Garvey:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was Marcus Garvey a controversial figure? Students first read their textbook's passage on Garvey and discuss; the teacher then distributes a timeline to extend students' background knowledge. The teacher may also (optional) stream some video clips on Garvey "In His Own Words," about 5 minutes total. Students then analyze 4 documents: 1) an excerpt from the Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2) a letter from NAACP members and others to the Attorney General complaining of Garvey, 3) a memo by J. Edgar Hoover, and 4) Garvey's own Autobiography. For all, students answer extensive guiding questions and engage in Socratic discussion with the teacher: why was Garvey so popular and controversial? Students then answer the question in writing using all the documents as evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Prohibition:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was the 18th Amendment adopted? Students first read the text of the amendment and answer brief guiding questions. Then, the teacher streams a video clip from Discovery Education about the temperance movement. Students then analyze, in small groups, 4 documents: 1) a statement by the National Temperance Council, 2) a New York Times article, 3) a propaganda poster, "Alcohol and Degeneracy," and 4) another such poster, "Children in Misery." For each, they answer detailed guiding questions. A final class discussion evaluates the strategies of temperance advocates: are their arguments convincing?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Chicago Race Riots of 1919:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Chicago race riots of 1919? The teacher begins with a mini-lecture on the Great Migration and then streams the video trailer for a documentary film called Up South. Students then read 2 secondary source accounts of the riots: 1 from a generic textbook and another from John H. Franklin's From Slavery to Freedom. Students analyze with a graphic organizer and discuss: which account is more believable and why? They then do the same for 3 primary sources, drawn from contemporary newspapers and magazines. A final class discussion attempts to identify the real cause of the riots and places them in a larger context of racial violence at the time.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Sedition in WWI:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were critics of the First World War anti-American? Students begin by free-writing: what is patriotism? Is it unpatriotic to criticize one's government? Students receive 2 documents: a speech by Eugene Debs and a pamphlet by Charles Schenck. For both, they answer detailed questions on a graphic organizer. After discussing, students then look at the text of the 1917 Sedition Act and answer guiding questions. Finally, the class looks at Oliver Wendell Holmes' Supreme Court decision ruling against Schenck and discuss: Did he break the law? Do you agree with the decision? For homework, students answer the central question in writing with evidence from the documents.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: U.S. Entry into WWI:

In this lesson, designed to follow a more general lesson on the causes and warring parties of WWI, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the U.S. enter World War I? The teacher begins with a mini-lesson on Woodrow Wilson. Students then read 2 Wilson documents: 1) a 1914 speech urging American neutrality and 2) Wilson's 1917 speech on the U.S. entry into the war. Students then read their class textbook's explanation for the end of U.S. neutrality, followed by an excerpt from Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. For all documents, students answer guiding questions which stress contextualization and close reading. A final class discussion evaluates Zinn's views and compares them to the other sources.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who was a stronger advocate for African-Americans, Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. DuBois? The teacher first uses a mini-lecture and a streaming video clip from Discovery Education to explain late 19th-century race relations in the South. Students then analyze an excerpt from Washington's "Atlanta Compromise" speech as the teacher models-extensively-sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading techniques, answering questions on a graphic organizer. Students then do the same, on their own, with a selection from DuBois' Souls of Black Folk. A final class discussion evaluates the 2 men: who was more right in his approach, given the historical context?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: King Philip's War of 1675:

This lesson challenges students to answer the central historical question: What caused King Philip's War of 1675? After warming up with some historical background information, students are presented with 2 primary source documents: a 1675 document ostensibly representing King Philip's "perspective" (but actually written by a colonist) and a post-war query as to the war's causes instigated by the English government. Students then answer questions (sourcing, contextualization, close reading) to analyze the passages and work in pairs to answer a final corroboration question on the war's ultimate cause.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Slavery in the Constitution:

In this lesson, students analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Founding Fathers keep slavery in the Constitution? Students first read Thomas Jefferson's original (deleted) anti-slavery grievance from the Declaration of Independence. Students are then given brief statements from 4 different Founders (Benjamin Franklin among them). These are followed by paragraph-length analyses from 3 historians who comment from a historical distance on the Founders' unwillingness or inability to eliminate slavery. The lesson ends with a "debrief" class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Stamp Act:

In this lesson, students study the origins of the American Revolution and the colonial protests against the Stamp Act in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why were colonists upset about the Stamp Act? Students will read three primary source documents:

  1. a short piece form the Boston-Gazette urging protest,
  2. a letter from an English newspaper expressing bafflement over the protests, and
  3. a letter from tax collector John Hughes complaining of his ill-treatment and blaming it on the Presbyterians.

Following the teacher's model, students answer sourcing and contextualization questions for the first two documents and do the last on their own. Discussion questions which corroborate all three documents conclude the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Albert Parsons SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was [Haymarket Riot defendant] Albert Parsons a dangerous man? First, the teacher uses a timeline to introduce Haymarket and the 8 men put on trial in its aftermath. Students are then given 6 documents-several by Parsons himself, but also a newspaper account of the trial, trial testimony, and a 2006 secondary source-and answer guiding questions. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that Parson was/was not "dangerous"; only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Battle of Lexington:

In this lesson, students will study the first outbreak of violence in the American Revolution in an effort to answer the central historical question: What happened at the Battle of Lexington? Through sourcing and contextualization questions students will study a textbook passage on the battle, two primary source documents (one from a British soldier and one from a group of minutemen), and two paintings of the battle. As a final assessment, students will rewrite the textbook's account, taking into account the new perspectives they have learned.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Declaration of Independence :

In this lesson, students study primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Founders write the Declaration of Independence? Students will examine contrasting views by two historians. Then they will read the preamble of the Declaration (2 versions of varying reading complexity are provided) and rewrite it in their own words. Students will also examine a simplified list of the grievances against King George specified in the Declaration. Finally, students and teacher attempt to answer the central question and determine which featured historian has the better argument.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Emancipation Proclamation:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Did Lincoln free the slaves or did the slaves free themselves? The teacher may use background information (provided) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2 documents: 1) Lincoln's text of the Proclamation itself and 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass on a meeting with Lincoln. For each, students answer worksheet questions in pairs and then fill out a graphic organizer to reach a conclusion. A final class discussion ends the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Explosion of the Maine :

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What sank the Maine? The teacher introduces the concept of media sensationalism and shows a painting of the Maine's destruction and a propaganda song blaming the Spanish. Students then receive opposing newspaper accounts from Hearst's New York Herald and the New York Times; for each, they fill out a graphic organizer and/or guiding questions. A class discussion explores how the reporting of news influences readers' opinions. For homework, students explain--using textual evidence--which account they find more believable.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Federalists & Anti-Federalists:

In this lesson, students analyze two primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: What type of government did Federalists and Anti-Federalists prefer? The lesson begins with a mini-lesson introducing historical context for the Constitutional Convention, the Great Compromise over Representation, and the ratification process. Students then analyze, with the aid of a graphic organizer, two documents: one by an Anti-Federalist (Melancton Smith) and one by a Federalist (Alexander Hamilton). Students discuss as a class the two positions and their modern-day implications.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Great Awakening:

In this lesson, students study the Great Awakening and one of its most notable preachers, George Whitefield, in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was George Whitefield so popular? After viewing an online film clip and a brief PowerPoint to establish context for the Great Awakening and some of its "superstar" preachers, students are presented with three primary sources regarding Whitefield:

  1. a long-after-the-fact anecdote by Benjamin Franklin,
  2. a contemporary (but undated) account by a born-again Whitefield follower Nathan Cole, and
  3. a hostile and dismissive letter by a rival preacher, Nathanael Henchman.

For each, students answer sourcing and contextualization questions and formulate a hypothesis as to Whitefield's popularity. A culminating class discussion addresses the central question.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Hamilton vs. Jefferson:

In this lesson, students analyze two primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What were the differences between [Alexander] Hamilton and [Thomas] Jefferson? Students first read a textbook summary/description (not included) of the Hamilton/Jefferson dynamic. Then, students are given a letter by each man—both addressed to George Washington and written on the same day—each of which addresses the ongoing feud with the other man. In pairs, students read the documents and answer sourcing, corroboration, contextualization, and close reading questions, including some intriguing ones which encourage students to "pick sides" in the rivalry.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Homestead Strike:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Homestead Strike turn violent? The teacher first recaps labor/industry relations of the era and introduces the Homestead Strike with a timeline. The teacher then models sourcing and close reading techniques with a document: Emma Goldman's 1931 autobiography. Students then do the same with an 1892 newspaper interview of Henry Frick, followed by corroboration guiding questions that pit the 2 authors against each other. In a final class discussion, students evaluate the validity of the sources and debate whether the historical "truth" about the strike is knowable.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: John Brown:

In this lesson, students analyze several primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was John Brown a "misguided fanatic?" The teacher may use a PowerPoint and/or timeline (both are included) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2-3 documents (note: 3 are included, but the third is optional and guiding questions for it are not included): 1) Brown's last letter, written on the day of his death sentence, 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass, and 3) a letter by Brown admirer L. Maria Child. Students answer sourcing and contextualization questions for each, and a final class discussion address Brown's fanaticism or lack of it.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Lewis and Clark SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents, as well as engage in a Structured Academic Controversy, in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were Lewis and Clark respectful to the Native Americans they encountered on their journey? Detailed directions are provided for both teacher and students as to how to conduct a Structured Academic Controversy. All primary and secondary source documents (a letter from Thomas Jefferson, 4 excerpts from Clark's journals from 1805 and 1806, and a Time magazine article exploring the expedition from the Native American's point of view) are included with the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Nat Turner:

In this lesson, students analyze 3 source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was Nat Turner a hero or a madman? The lesson begins by first reading the class textbook's account of the Nat Turner massacre and then reading a timeline which includes Turner's capture and execution. The teacher them models the first document, an excerpt from Thomas Gray's Confessions of Nat Turner, by helping students answer sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading questions. Students then do the same with 2 more documents: a newspaper editorial contemptuous of Turner and an admiring 1843 speech by Henry Garnet to the National Negro Convention. Finally, students use all 3 documents to write a response to the central question and discuss as a class: what kind of person was Nat Turner?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Pocahontas:

This lesson focuses around two different versions of John Smith's "rescue" by Pocahontas. Students compare and contrast the two versions and encounter the idea of subjectivity versus objectivity in primary source historical documents. Finally, they read the brief opinions of two historians who provide their perspectives on the incident.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Political Bosses:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were political bosses corrupt? The teacher begins by explaining progressives' complaints about political machines and graft and then shows a political cartoon criticizing Tammany Hall. Students then read and analyze 2 documents: 1) a book excerpt by muckraker Lincoln Steffens, and 2) a "talk" by political boss George Plunkitt. For each, they answer guiding questions on a graphic organizer (the teacher models this extensively with the first document in the lesson). For HW, students write a dialogue between the 2 writers in which Steffens tries to convince Plunkitt to practice honest government.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Progressive Social Reformers SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: What were the attitudes of Progressive social reformers toward immigrants? Students first read their textbook's passage on the Social Gospel and Settlement Houses. The teacher reviews the material, emphasizing main points, and then streams a brief film clip (link included) about women in the Progressive era. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that social reformers were either (Pair A) generous and helpful or (Pair B) condescending and judgmental. Only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion: how did social attitudes then differ from those of today?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Pullman Strike :

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Chicago newspapers cover the Pullman strike? The teacher begins by placing the Pullman strike in the context of other labor strikes and using a PowerPoint to convey basic information. Students are then divided into 4 groups, and each is given a different set of articles-1 each from the Chicago Times and Chicago Tribune-and told to use close reading strategies to figure out which paper was biased against the strikers and which favored them. Finally, each group chooses a representative to present to the entire class how that group arrived at its conclusion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Radical Reconstruction:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was the Radical Republican plan for Reconstruction considered "radical?" The teacher first uses a PowerPoint to review the Civil War and introduce the challenges of Reconstruction. Students then analyze and answer guiding questions about 3 documents: a speech by Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical, and 2 speeches by President Andrew Johnson. A final class discussion evaluates the Radicals' plan and compares it to Johnson's approach: Which was more likely to unite the country?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Reconstruction SAC:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were African Americans free during Reconstruction? After an introduction/review of the time period, students answer detailed guiding questions on 4 text documents and a set of photos illustrating the post-Civil War freedoms and restrictions which blacks faced. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that blacks were/were not free; only at the end do students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Spanish American War :

In this lesson, students analyze primary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the U.S invade Cuba? The teacher streams a short film (link included) while students take notes as to possible reasons for the invasion. Students then read the following: 1) song lyrics of an anti-Spanish propaganda a song written after the Maine sinking, 2) a telegram sent by Fitzhugh Lee, U.S. Consul-General in Cuba, and 3) a Senate campaign speech from Albert Beveridge. For each, students complete a graphic organizer and guiding questions. A final class discussion goes back to the original class hypotheses and determines which ones are most supported by the evidence.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Texas Independence:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did Texans declare independence from Mexico in 1836? The teacher introduces the topic with a film clip (Note: requires registration to Discovery Education's website) and timeline and elicits student hypotheses. Students are then given 4 documents: 1) the Texas Declaration of Independence, 2) a letter by Tejano Rafael Manchola, 3) a speech by Mexican Juan Seguin, and 4) a pamphlet by abolitionist Benjamin Lundy. Students then analyze each using a graphic organizer; a final class discussion invites students to participate in the historical debate.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: The Battle of the Little Bighorn:

In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary sources in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who was responsible for the Battle of the Little Bighorn? After a mini-lecture on the late 1800s Indian Wars, students read a textbook account of the battle, and then compare it to 2 documents: 1) a report by the War Secretary, and 2) an account by Kate Bighead, a Cheyenne Indian. Students answer guiding questions for all documents, followed by a class discussion. For homework, students write a new textbook account using primary source information.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorials

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 2:

Practice literacy skills while learning more about the Pullman Strike of 1894 in this interactive tutorial.

This is the second tutorial in a two-part series. Click to launch Part 1 where you'll learn the history behind the same event.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 1:

Learn the history behind the Pullman Strike of 1894 in part 1 of this interactive tutorial.  In Part 2, you'll practice your literacy skills while learning more about the same event! 

Click  to open part 2.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Teaching Idea

Controversies in the Classroom - DOMA! :

This teaching idea discusses the roles played by all three branches of government and allows students to visualize the checks and balances through the establishment, enforcement, and review of the Defense of Marriage Act. It also allows students to critically read through specific sections of the Constitution and other primary/secondary sources to link specific evidence in defending their evaluations of current events.

Type: Teaching Idea

Original Student Tutorials Social Studies - U.S. History - Grades 9-12

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 1:

Learn the history behind the Pullman Strike of 1894 in part 1 of this interactive tutorial.  In Part 2, you'll practice your literacy skills while learning more about the same event! 

Click  to open part 2.

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 2:

Practice literacy skills while learning more about the Pullman Strike of 1894 in this interactive tutorial.

This is the second tutorial in a two-part series. Click to launch Part 1 where you'll learn the history behind the same event.

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorials

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 2:

Practice literacy skills while learning more about the Pullman Strike of 1894 in this interactive tutorial.

This is the second tutorial in a two-part series. Click to launch Part 1 where you'll learn the history behind the same event.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Literacy in History: The Pullman Strike, Part 1:

Learn the history behind the Pullman Strike of 1894 in part 1 of this interactive tutorial.  In Part 2, you'll practice your literacy skills while learning more about the same event! 

Click  to open part 2.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.