May 2021 - History Gal

Helping Students Analyze Primary Sources

Students looking at a computer with the text Help Students Analyze Primary Sources

Do your students struggle with analyzing primary sources? 

Here are some things you can do to help.


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Begin by spending a few days on primary and secondary sources. This set includes doodle notes and station activities for both primary and secondary sources. I'd break this lesson into 3 days.

Day 1: Secondary Sources Doodle Notes
Day 2: Primary Sources Doodle Notes
Day 3: 5 Learning Stations to reinforce student knowledge of primary and secondary sources


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Image of station activity in Primary and Seconday Sources Lesson by History Gal
Images of station activities in Primary and Seconday Sources Lesson by History Gal

Thumbnail image of My Life as a Primary Source by History Gal
Next, remind students that many of the primary resources that they'll encounter were written or created by ordinary people living ordinary lives. Then, let them create a primary source document about their own life. Intrigued? I've created a free lesson that you can use!

Then, during each unit, introduce your students to at least one primary source. It can be a letter, a speech, a photograph, a political cartoon, a piece of artwork, or even a song. Have students read it, listen to it, observe it, and think about how the primary source connects to the period of time they are learning about. 


Wish there was something you could use instead of creating primary sources analysis handouts yourself?

I've created engaging doodle pages for a variety of primary source types that make analyzing primary sources a lot easier for students!

Thumbnail image of Analyzing Letters as  a Primary Source by History Gal
Thumbail image of Analyzing Songs as  a Primary Source by History Gal
Thumbnail image of Analyzing Photographs as  a Primary Source by History Gal
Thumbnail of Analyzing Pieces of Art as  a Primary Source by History Gal
Thumbnail of Analyzing Speeches as  a Primary Source by History Gal
Thumbnail of Political Cartoons as  a Primary Source by History Gal


My Lesson Plans for Teaching the American Revolution


I thought it might be helpful to share how I plan out my American Revolution unit. I have it lasting 12 class periods (meeting for 55 minutes each day), but the actual length will depend on how long your class periods are, your individual students, and how much time you have to devote to this unit (which, of course, depends on how much of U.S. History you are covering in your semester or year class).


Teaching the Fall of Rome

Light bulb illustration with text that reads Lesson Ideas for Teaching the Fall of Rome

How do you teach the fall of Rome? When I first began teaching, I lectured about all the events and issues that led to the fall of Rome and then gave my students a mini-research project about the different groups of people that were involved in the fall. It was OK. It wasn't horrible, I just wanted it to be more engaging. So, this is what I came up with . . .


Day 1: Hook them with a game. I created a simulation where students randomly choose an emperor profile (based on an actual emperor who ruled during Rome's downturn and fall) and a treasury amount. Then, they are presented with situations where they have to make a decision (they are given several options to choose from).

A decision card from the simulation Can You Stop the Fall of Rome?

The decisions result in the students either gaining or losing gold coins. At the end of the simulation, students tally up all of their gold coins in their treasury and learn whether they were successful (or not) in stopping the fall of the Roman Empire. What makes this so awesome is that students don't realize that while they are playing, they are actually learning about the key events that took place during the collapse of the Roman Empire. And, when they start learning  the actual content for this part of the Ancient Rome unit, they easily make connections to the game they just played and remember the content a lot better!



End of Year Lesson Ideas for Social Studies

Image of students taking a picture with text overlay that reads End of Year Lesson Ideas for Social Studies

Are you struggling to figure out what to do during the last few weeks of school in your social studies or history class? Don't stress! Here are some of my favorites:


Oral Project - Perfect for downtime after state exams, students (individually or in pairs) pick any topic from the 20th or 21st century to teach their classmates about. They have 20 minutes to present to the class and their project can take on any form they wish - a talk, a video, a demonstration. . . their imagination is their limit! All you have to do is give final approval of their topic and form of presentation, give them some class time to work, and set up the presentation schedule. What makes this so fun is that it's a topic that students are actually excited about and their individually personalities shine through. I've seen presentations on a huge range of topics from music to food to serial killers to historical events and so much more. What makes it even better, is that it's low prep during those last crazy weeks of the school year.

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