Students absorb the bulk of their historical knowledge from secondary
sources most notably textbooks. But primary sources
diaries, letters, artwork, memoirs created by those who participated
in or witnessed events of the past tell us something that even the
best written books cannot convey. The use of primary sources exposes
students to important historical concepts. First, students become
aware that written history reflects an authors interpretation
of events. Therefore, as students read a historical account, they
begin to recognize its subjective nature. Second, through primary
sources students are able to directly touch the lives of people
in the past. As they use primary sources, they develop important
Too many students see the past as a dry collection of dates and
facts. The use of primary sources can change this view, and help
them begin to see that texts present only one historical interpretation.
Although this curriculum is designed to have a home in the social
studies department, it is truly an integrated unit, developing process
and content competencies across many disciplines. The unit draws
on the specific national standards promulgated in history and the
Although there are still many divisive issues in the field, there
is clear emphasis on developing higher order thinking skills across
content areas. Constructing knowledge will take precedence over
specific content outcomes in this curriculum.
Blooms Taxonomy defines skills as:
The ability to do something proficiently in repeated performances.
They are processes that enable students to link knowledge with
beliefs that lead to action.
The three categories of skill defined within the taxonomy are:
Skills related to acquiring information;
Skills related to organizing and using information; and
Skills related to interpersonal and social participation.
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