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Primary Source Lesson Plans

The Lehigh County Historical Society and Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum recently received a grant through the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Program.  Primary sources are the basic building blocks of history—original sources created at the time of a historical event.  Learn more about the Library's TPS program and other resources available to teachers at www.loc.gov/teachers.

The grant from the Library enabled the Lehigh County Historical Society to offer teacher continuing education workshops helping teachers learn to use primary sources to meet Common Core and State Academic Standards while teaching various subjects across the curriculum.  Participating teachers were invited to use what they had learned to develop and submit lesson plans incorporating primary sources.  The Lehigh County Historical Society would like to thank all the workshop attendees, with a special thanks to those who have submitted lesson plans. 

We also invite all those who use these lesson plans to provide feedback.  How did this lesson plan work in your classroom?  Do you have suggestions?  Have you created an effective lesson plan using primary sources?  If you have comments, suggestions, or would like to submit a primary-source-based lesson plan for possible inclusion on this site, please email s_thayer@lehighvalleyheritagemuseum.org.

We are offering these materials to educators as resources for you to decide for yourself about their utility and appropriateness for your students.  We cannot guarantee that any particular lesson will be appropriate and work well for your class, nor can we guarantee that all information provided in external links is accurate.  You must be the judge of that. 

The lesson plans are listed below along with brief descriptions.  Please note that when the lesson plans refer to “showing,” “displaying,” or “projecting” a primary source, this should be done by projecting the source directly from the website in order to adhere to any possible copyright restrictions.  Remember that, ultimately, rights assessment is your responsibility.  We cannot make that determination for you.

Each lesson plan may be downloaded as a ZIP file by clicking on the Lesson Topic.

Lesson Topic
Target Grade
Lesson Summary
2-5
Students read & discuss a letter written by a Civil War soldier, then compose an original letter written from the perspective of a Civil War soldier.
3
Students analyze historical presidential campaign posters, then create their own persuasive campaign poster.

William Penn:
-Webquest
-PowerPoint
(2 lesson unit)

4
These lessons use primary sources to explore William Penn, his beliefs, and how they shaped early Pennsylvania.
4
Student teams view and analyze historical photographs of our state capital, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then create their own Google Docs slide show presentation.
5
Students analyze an oral history, photographs, and songs related to the Dust Bowl Era.
7-8
Students analyze primary sources such as photographs and maps to help illuminate the reading of a literature source about Civil War Drummer boys.
8
Students analyze a newspaper article and lithograph about the Great Awakening.  They then examine two political cartoons about temperance, a social reform movement that grew out of the Great Awakening.  Finally, students create a persuasive political cartoon about another social reform movement referencing the Great Awakening.
10
Students analyze primary sources to learn about Edgar Allen Poe’s life and influence.

9-12
AP

Student teams explore the online exhibit John Bull Uncle Sam Four Centuries of British-American Relations at www.loc.gov.  Teams summarize main ideas and important details from their assigned subsection of the exhibit, using exhibit materials to create a short PowerPoint.

 

 

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