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Activity Overview

This activity can serve as a summative assessment for a student’s introduction to primary sources. Have students create a spider map which answers the 5 Ws (“who, what, when, where, and why”) in order to understand the background of a primary source document. Teachers should assign documents that are relevant to their classroom curriculum or to documents that they will teach in the future.

The example provided shows the powerful writings of Anne Frank in her globally recognized diary. The example displays how students should focus on both the content of their document along with the context it was created in. Students should choose a document based on a context that they personally find interesting in order to maximize the quality of their final product.

Extension Activity:

Have students participate in an interactive activity of the documents of their peers. Once students have completed the 5W activity, they should be encouraged to share their work with their peers while answering context and content related questions from them. This activity will allow students to communicate what they learned about the source while they work on their interpersonal skills with their classmates. Once students have presented, they should be encouraged to create a three-cell storyboard of the top three documents that were presented in class. The storyboard should focus on their understanding of their peers' creations with each panel reflecting the following:

  1. What they learned about their document
  2. What they found most interesting
  3. What they want to know more of? (Remaining “Burning” Questions)

A strong teaching point that can be used at the conclusion of this extension activity is to compare the students’ extension activity with the original 5W activity from before. Students should look to see if there are any inconsistencies with their extension activity related to the facts, details, or descriptions. This is an important teaching opportunity, as teachers can remind their class if there are inconsistencies or inaccuracies from their original presentation to the extension activity. It only affirms the struggles that historians undergo when attempting to uncover the facts of history as a whole!

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a 5W analysis of a primary source document.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title box for each cell, type Who, What, When, Where and Why.
  3. In the descriptions, answer the question.
  4. Create an image for each cell with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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