Organizing a rich text set of primary sources requires that students analyze and make sense of several sources on a topic. In this case, they seek to answer a focused guiding question. Students sort through about a dozen images, letters, forms, and political cartoon. In practice, a teacher could offer fewer sources, though it is a valuable sometimes to require students to choose among sources. The primary sources are also give context by a secondary source narrative from the Veterans Administration.
Disability History: From Almshouses to Civil Rights
UPDATED IN 2020. The following primary source set, created using materials from the Library of Congress, contains an array of sources focused on Disability History in the United States. Disability has been interwoven into America’s history since the country’s inception through letters, images, newspapers, diaries and other primary sources. The set provides a comprehensive look into a wide range of Library of Congress resources.
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 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.
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.
Since arriving in North America in the 15th century, Africans in the United States were forced to navigate the social, economic, and physical limitations placed upon their lives by the institutions of slavery and the racist ideology that justified it. The following primary source set shows several ways that different communities responded to the outlawing of the Atlantic slave trade (and subsequent yearly celebrations of the event) and the Emancipation Proclamation. These two events fundamentally challenged and changed the institutional practices of slavery.
From Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project, this powerful site offers more than 60 curated lists of literature and history books on social justice and multicultural points of view for children, young adults, and educators. Book lists are organized by topic areas–including Changemakers, Disabilities, Immigration (and specific immigrant groups), Organizing, and Voting Rights!
Finding Primary Sources on Disability History
Browse the thorough and easy-to-follow: Using the Library of Congress Online: A Guide for Middle and High School Students. Also very useful for teachers!
Emerging America's lesson plan template features a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) grid borrowed from Social Studies & Exceptional Learners (see below). It is designed to support teaching of Social Studies. Three columns call for strategies that support the UDL instructional framework (see description in Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse).