Sunday, February 23, 2014

Learning from the past with year 6

This last week I had the opportunity to teach year 6 about primary and secondary sources, what they are, how they are created and how we tell them apart. This is part of their PYP unit "Where we are in place and time" which has a history focus. History is one of my interests and primary sources are very important as a genealogist, so I was excited about this lesson, but I wanted to do it right!

I have taught the same lesson 6 times and each time it changes a little bit. I am a keen advocate of resource based and inquiry learning, but I only have 40 minutes with year 6. The lesson had to be engaging, inquiry and resource based and still meet the learning intention within the time frame.

The learning intention was that the students would be able to identify a primary and secondary source, they would be able to give an explanation of how primary sources are used to create secondary sources.

The lesson opened with a whole class discussion on what primary & secondary means. The first class I did not do this, and it took a long time for the students to figure out what the meanings were. After we had created a class definition of what primary (first) and secondary (second) was they were given a packet of resources to look at. I explained that one of the resources couldn't be printed, and I showed them the video of the first moon landing before they headed off.
In groups of 2-3, they had to determine which of the resources on the page was primary and which was secondary. They also had a thinking sheet with questions to answer from their observations (see below).

The rest of the lesson was unstructured and the class teacher and I wandered around the room talking to the students, and helping them with their thinking if they needed it.

At the  end I had the students talk to another group about what they found out and compare findings, then we had a class discussion to quickly bring it back together and see how their their thinking was going.

At the end of the lesson I gave a little story about 2 boxes I have that are important to me and why These were one of my deceased grandfathers cigar boxes, and my grandmothers button box. I had the actual boxes to show them. We then discussed how the boxes were primary sources because we could information directly from them, and my stories to the class about my grandparents were secondary stories. The students were engaged throughout the lesson and asking some great questions throughout.

The lesson took about 6 hours to prepare, but I do believe the students walked away with a good understanding of what primary and secondary sources were. I also think the lesson is robust enough to be used in secondary school. The year 6's will be visiting a museum next week, so we will have a follow up activity planned for the museum around primary sources.

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