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RAN Chart

A Tool to Challenge 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. 

Circle of Viewpoints Thinking Map - Visible Thinking Project - Project Zero

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.

Visual Primary Source Analysis Tool / Quadrant Analysis

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.

Primary Source Analysis Tool - Observe, Reflect, Question–Investigate

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

What Do Trains Do? Exploring Local History through Maps

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.

Six Goals of the United States Constitution Preamble

“…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.

Restricting Immigration to the US

This lesson uses the 21st century “travel ban,” ruled constitutional in 2018, as an entry point to explore previous shifts in US immigration policy. More specifically, students will use primary sources to examine social contexts of three specific immigration laws (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Immigration Acts of 1921 & 1924, and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952) in order to understand who was banned or excluded from the US and why.

Civil Rights & Disability: 1990 ADA, IDEA, & the Juvenile Justice System Today

Kelley McDermott, History teacher in a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facility developed this lesson to attract her 8th grade students interest in research and public policy. Historically, students with disabilities are disproportionally caught up in the juvenile justice system. The lesson employs many strategies and tools for accessibility from Emerging America's Accessing Inquiry course. These include a focus vocabulary analysis and Universal Design for Learning plan.

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