New Lesson Plan on Primary and Secondary Sources

Understanding and Using Primary and Secondary Sources, Social Studies, K-12 and Post-Secondary
For students to become competent researchers and writers, they must understand the distinct differences between primary and secondary sources, which are the building blocks of effective historical research. Many students, including those in higher education, do not understand the importance of varied, accurate primary and secondary sources when conducting research to support valid arguments.  This issue inspired our newest lesson plan: Understanding and Using Primary and Secondary Sources, adapted for grades K-12 and the post-secondary level. It is also aligned with the Texas and U.S. Social Studies TEKS for grades K-12. 
According to the Library of Congress, “primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period” (Library of Congress). Primary sources can also “bring people into close contact with unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects” that give them a better sense of the past, as well as a closer connection to it. Students practicing primary source analysis learn to think like historians, constructing theories supported by facts.
Using primary and secondary source audiovisual materials, students will analyze and compare varied Texas and U.S. history topics of the 19th and 20th century, and develop analytical and critical thinking and viewing skills, identifying the strengths and limitations of varied historical resources. This lesson highlights the contributions of significant individuals, including U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Mary Kay Ash, and the infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. It also highlights important topics such the Texas Alamo, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the King Ranch, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Students will better understand important historical topics and the differences between secondary and primary sources in this lesson.