The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) developed by the Right Question Institute is both a simple, practical teaching technique and a philosophy of learning that empowers ALL learners to discover questions for themselves.
Keep at hand all seven items in the Emerging America Lesson Design Toolkit to support strong lesson plan development. You will also need copies of applicable academic standards and, of course, your text set, and any other support materials for the lesson. Refer to each tool to broaden choices for you and for students. The tools help make precise and clear the language in lesson objectives, instructions for assignments, rubrics, graphic organizers, and other handouts.
A Tool to Help Correct Misconceptions
The point of the RAN Chart (RAN stands for "Read and Analyze Non-fiction") is for students to research and confirm or correct their ideas for themselves! (Thus the RAN Chart improves on the old "Know-Wonder-Learned / KWL" chart.)
Step 1: Draw the RAN Chart on a whiteboard or smart board, or arrange note cards or post-its on a RAN Chart template. Ideally, leave the RAN Chart up through throughout an investigation. Create categories to help categorize the important ideas and information of the topic.
Prior to investigating a source, students examine the variety of people and groups that would interpret the source differently. Members of the class brainstorm to arrive at a list of all the different viewpoints, then one by one speak from the perspective of the varying stakeholders. This thinking routine, published by the Visible Thinking project at Project Zero, helps students consider the social and historical context for a primary source.
The Stripling Inquiry Model represents the inquiry process graphically to help students make sense of the inquiry process. The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program has helped to popularize the model. Find an in-depth discussion of inquiry and links to additional models and resources at Emerging America's Inquiry Strategies page.
A way to spur inquiry and close observation is by examining one quarter of the primary source at a time.This six-minute exercise gives students a chance to focus in on particular details of the source. Having students write notes about each quadrant helps students to generate ideas and text fragments they can use in their writing; the partial view makes it easier for students to make notes without self-criticism.
The Library of Congress teacher Primary Source Analysis Tool helps students learn the skills of inquiry. The Library of Congress Teachers page suggests prompts to analyze: maps, film, oral histories, newspapers, political cartoons, books and other printed texts, sheet music, photographs and prints, manuscripts, and sound recordings. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/guides.html
Access an excellent slide show on the Census from Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium member Dr. Elizabeth Osborn, Indiana University Center on Representative Government!
Using familiar imagery of trains, young students can begin to make foundational connections to geography and history using primary sources. Kindergarten students will make a first exploration of local history through early railroad maps from the Library of Congress. This lesson addresses Kindergarten Common Core State Standards and several Massachusetts Social Studies standards and skills. centered around maps. The culminating activity has students create and modify their own town maps to include symbols, cardinal directions, labels, a key, etc.
“…establish justice…” “…promote the general welfare….” “…secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”
By connecting the goals of the federal government to primary source visual representations, this simple civics lesson will help students to remember and think more deeply about the goals set out by the Preamble to the United States Constitution.