Historians are Detectives

Grade Range: 3-5
Resource Type(s): Lessons & Activities, Primary Sources
Duration: 50 minutes
Date Posted: 11/19/2008

In the classroom activity, students will be able to explain the difference between primary and secondary sources, and explain how the value of using primary sources is important to history. By using primary sources to answer a series of questions, they will see that, much like detectives, historians have to prove that their answers are correct by providing evidence. This activity is included in the online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History entitled The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem.


National Standards

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades K-4)

Standards in History (Grades K-4)

United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5-12)

Standards For English Language Arts (Grades K-12)

Common Core State Standards (Grades K-12)

CCR Anchor Standards for Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1 (Text Types and Purposes): Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 (Text Types and Purposes): Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3 (Text Types and Purposes): Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 (Production and Distribution of Writing): Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 (Production and Distribution of Writing): Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 (Production and Distribution of Writing): Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 (Research to Build and Present Knowledge): Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 (Research to Build and Present Knowledge): Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 (Research to Build and Present Knowledge): Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 (Range of Writing): Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
 

Common Core State Standards (Grades 6-8)

Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6-8)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 (Key Ideas and Details): Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 (Key Ideas and Details): Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 (Key Ideas and Details): Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4 (Craft and Structure): Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5 (Craft and Structure): Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6 (Craft and Structure): Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas): Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas): Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9 (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas): Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.10 (Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity): By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.