6 C’s for analyzing primary sources

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Over the last few years, we’ve seen the instructional strategy pendulum swing over to encouraging more use of evidence by students to solve authentic problems. And there’s tons of stuff out there to help us and students make sense of primary and secondary sources.

You’ve got the Library of Congress primary source analysis worksheets. You’ve got the awesome stuff bySam Wineburg and Stanford. There’s the DocsTeach site by the National Archives as well as all of their document analysis lessons / worksheets. And lots of things like Historical Thinking Matters and Historical Scene Investigation.

But a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of the excellent work that the History Project at the University of California, Irvine does with helping student evaluate evidence. We have been perhaps overloaded with Wineburg’s stuff so much that we don’t think that we need to go out and look for other types of tools.

Don’t get me wrong, Sam. I absolutely love your stuff. Sourcing, contextulization, corroborating. I am all in. But we always said that it’s okay to date other people. And the History Project has some useful stuff.

I especially like their 6 C’s of Primary Source Analysis graphic organizer.

You can get copies of their graphic organizer all over the internet. Or simply download the version below:

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I like the idea of encouraging kids to think about citation and that sort of academic practice. But I especially like the Connection C. It’s a nice way of highlighting prior knowledge and motivate kids to find other types of supporting evidence – both for and against the question they are working to solve. (This is a perfect place to throw in some of the cool hexagon activities that we’ve talked about before.)

Give the 6 C’s a shot. A few extra tools in the tool belt never hurt anyone.

About Glenn Wiebe

I work as a social studies specialist at ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Before coming to ESSDACK, I taught middle school US History and higher ed social science classes.

1 thought on “6 C’s for analyzing primary sources

  1. Another great resource I have found is issuevoter.org. A lot of teachers have been using it for Teaching students about the legislative process,Finding a piece of legislation by identifying issues you care about, and writing a persuasive essay about it, and Helping students understand how current events lead to new bills. For more information you can email info@issuevoter.org

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