Lessons in American History Using Primary Sources
A Series of Webquests
By Laura Thompson
These UPS Exercises address several aspects of the Illinois Learning Standards. By completing these exercises, students will:
· Understand political systems, the roles and influences of individuals and interest groups in the political systems, United States foreign policy as it relates to other nations and international issues and the development of United States political ideas and traditions. (ILS 14)
· Understand how social and political systems impact economic systems. (ILS 15)
· Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations. (ILS 16)
· Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society, with an emphasis on the United States. (ILS 17)
· Understand social systems, compare characteristics of culture as reflected in language, literature, the arts, traditions and institutions; understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society. Understand how social systems form. (ILS 18)
These UPS exercises are designed to help students become critical thinkers by thinking as a historian and learning to write competently by using primary sources. They will examine real evidence about important questions in history. They will evaluate this evidence against what they already know in order to reach a conclusion. The process of evaluation, analysis, and synthesis reflects what historians do. Some of the primary sources included are graphics, maps, charts, political cartoons, poems, songs as well as documents. Learning to look at something critically and interpret its meaning and impact are vital skills for the life-long learner.
Writing an essay to each UPS exercise will enable students to improve their higher order thinking skills. They will learn to detect bias, to weigh evidence, and to develop logical conclusions. This process will guide them to express their ideas in a clear, thoughtful, persuasive essay.
Each UPS exercise has three parts. Part A is an examination of various documents. Part B is centered on a question which helps the student make connections between the documents examined. The third part is to compose an essay based on the driving question. The driving question is shown in the beginning of the UPS exercise.
Suggestions for completing each UPS Exercise
· Carefully read the driving question. Consider what you already know about this topic. How would you answer the driving question if you had no documents to examine?
· Read each document carefully, underlining key phrases and words that address the driving question. You may also wish to use the margin or post-its to make notes. Answer the questions that follow each document before moving on to the next document.
· Based on your own knowledge and on the information found in the documents, formulate a thesis that directly answers the driving question.
· Organize supportive and relevant information into a brief outline.
· Write a well-organized essay proving your thesis. You should present your essay logically. Include information both from the documents and from your own knowledge beyond the documents.
· Introductory paragraph – Take a stand on the question. Respond to all parts of the question. Develop your thesis. To what degree is it true? Provide background and explanation and definitions of terms used in the driving question. Introduce topics you will discuss in the body of the paragraph.
· Body paragraphs – Use a separate paragraph for each topic, issue, or argument. Include specific examples to support generalization or to make distinction. Cite specific evidence for the documents, but avoid long quotations. Integrate information for the documents and from your knowledge in your essay.
· Concluding paragraph – Restate your position and main ideas that you presented in your essay.