Before the lesson begins, the teacher should begin with a written "bell-ringer" or starter activity which is a question written on the board. Students should write down an answer to this question and find a partner next to them ("elbow partner") in order to compare answers. The teacher should allow wait time for partners to discuss the answer to the bell-ringer question. This wait time should be followed by selecting several groups of partners to share their answers to the bell ringer question.
Bell-Ringer Question: "As historians, what information can we gain from reading primary sources that we might not be able to gain through reading secondary sources? How could we use this information effectively when studying a particular time period in history?"
In this lesson, students will read and critically examine a letter from an Alabama farm owner to a U.S. Senator from Alabama regarding exemption status for the 1917 Selective Service Act on behalf of one of her workers. This primary source document will allow the students to practice evaluating a complex text.
- Have the students read the Letters Between Juney Thompson in Siluria, Alabama and Senator John H. Bankhead in Washington, D.C, then complete the comprehension questions individually.
Once all students have completed the questions, they should find an "elbow partner" to discuss their answers. Have the students review each other’s writing, adding more and/or asking questions, in writing.
- Allow an appropriate time limit for the students to work independently on the reading comprehension assignment. These questions are another form of formative assessment within this lesson to measure reading comprehension of the primary source.
The students will participate in a "Philosophical Chairs" class debate regarding the merit of the farm owner's request. The Philosophical Chairs activity will allow the students to verbally articulate an argumentative position while specifically using textual evidence in order to be able to defend his or her position.
- The teacher should provide feedback on this exercise formally through Google Docs or written remarks on a hard copy of the document.
The teacher will place students into either “agree” or “disagree” groups based on his or her discretion. Essentially, the groups will be explaining why they agree or why they do not agree with a statement. No one will begin the debate in the “undecided section.”
- The teacher should refer to the procedures of the Philosophical Chairs activity. The teacher should iterate ground rules for respect and attention to anyone who is speaking. This activity will be the final formative assessment for this lesson.
Students should complete a summative assessment for this lesson by articulating, through writing, one point or idea from their classmates during the Philosophical Chairs activity that resonated the most with them and why they chose that particular idea or point. They should submit these exit slips to the teacher before leaving the class for the day.
The Teacher should use the following checklist to assess the student's exit slip:
1. Did the student choose an idea that was specified during the Philosophical Chairs activity. In other words, was the idea that the student chose actually expressed during the debate?
2. Did the student explain why he or she chose the point that he or she did in the exit slip?
Alabama Department of Archives and History. (2010, December 7). Letters Between Juney Thompson in Siluria, Alabama to Senator John H. Bankhead in Washington, D.C.: Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/ref/collection/voices/id/3806
Cooley, A. J. (2008, March 27). John Hollis Bankhead. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1495
Olliff, M. T. (2008, May 22). World War I and Alabama. Retrieved July 2, 2017, from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1545
Seales, B. J. (n.d.). Siluria Cotton Mill Company. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~alshelby/SiluriaMills.html