As I reflect on activities that we have completed in class, my mind ponders on what the most effective ways of assessing the proficiency of student primary source analysis skills. As a class we chose objects of our preference and analyzed them in four parts: 1) meet the artifact; 2) observe its parts; 3) try to make sense of it; and 4) use it as historical evidence. Through this process, we made inferences by carefully examining the physical appearance of the object and hypothesizing its purpose.
We also learned how to analyze, especially compare and contrast, between different primary sources, such as an image of King George and an image of George Washington. We carefully examined what objects and symbols were included in the image and why those objects may have been included. This way, we inferred what message the illustrator was trying to deliver.
I have been thinking about how else students could show that they are proficient in their primary source analysis skills, and I thought of something I found pretty interesting and creative. Instead of having the students use primary sources to make inferences and develop and understanding by a repeated “observe and think” process, I think students can benefit from creating their own creative primary sources. By this, I mean students can tackle on writing letters or poems in the eyes of a critical historical figure or a commoner of any status. For example, after learning about Abraham Lincoln and his relevance to the history we learn today, a student could write a letter to a fictional friend and explain his thoughts/feelings on the topic at hand. Not only will students be able to identify and understand what happened, but they will also gain the opportunity to use advanced skills in understanding the emotions/intentions behind primary sources.
My question for you all is can you think of any ways of incorporating primary sources or just building on primary source analysis skills without necessarily providing an actual primary source? Be creative:)