Questions and Prompts For Social Studies Skills
Use the questions and prompts below to help your students analyze social studies skills.
Focuses on a document’s author and the circumstances of its creation.
Identified the category of source.
Identified the date and creator of source.
Identified if the source is primary or secondary.
Described the audience of the source.
Described the purpose of the source.
Described characteristics, bias, or perspectives of the source’s creator.
Described the trustworthiness of the source.
- It may help you to imagine how this source would have been different if a different person wrote it. For example, how might a piece written by a black woman living in Kenya be different than something written by a white man in England? What about a black man? What about a child? What about a person living in another part of the world? Or another era? Use this thinking to help you analyze how an author’s race, class, gender, ect. influences their writing. Do they write more emotionally because they identify with the person they are writing about?
- Typically, there are dozens of different topics that a source might be useful for. It is hard to be “wrong” about how the source would be useful, but try to stick with something the source would really be good for.
- Remember that even if you believe the piece doesn’t seem “biased,” you should still go through the questions about bias above and see how this text stacks up. You may find that an author was a pretty neutral observer with n biases. However, it is much more likely that, after answering the questions and considering who the author was (gender, race, class, profession).
Considers important details across multiple sources to determine points of agreement and disagreement. Corroboration is used when two sources are being put against each other.
Listed similarities and differences of the two or more sources.
Identified the different and/or similar characteristics, bias, or perspectives of the sources’ creators.
Used the sources to question, disprove, or confirm a historical idea, belief, or fact.
Rejected or accepted a source based on analysis of other sources.
Corroboration between political cartoons
- Describe the African Americans in this cartoon. Is this a positive or a negative image? Explain.
- What is Liberty trying to do?
- What is the message of this cartoon? How does it differ from the message of Cartoon #1?
- In what ways are these cartoons similar?
- In what ways are these cartoons different?
- Why might the cartoons have different messages?
- What do these cartoons tell us about the how the North felt about freedmen during Reconstruction?
Readers must consider the validity of sources and generate questions on how the source could be used and coupled with other information.
Created questions based on analysis of the source.
Identified ideas, images, or terms that need to be further defined or explained.
Described additional evidence needed to better understand the source.
Describe how useful the source is for answering specific questions.
Described the strengths and weaknesses of the source.
Requires readers to situate a primary source in time and place. Students must consider the document’s historical context, piecing together major events, themes, and people that distinguish the era in which a document was created.
Described a historical moment, person, group, or action.
Correctly connect the primary source to an outside fact to better explain a historical idea, belief, or theme.
Described what people would have thought about the source, while considering the source’s time period.
Used a historical event, person, or thing, that was not mentioned in the source, and explained how it affected the source.
Declaration of Independence-’All men are created equal”
- Today-duh…1776-Wow! This is a revolutionary idea!
The text will be the primary means to answer the questions. A student’s opinions ground in fact from the source.
Described the main point of the source.
Listed important details about the source and described why they were important.
Described the meaning of symbols or objects, or with written documents, the purpose of word choice or specific quotes.
Inferred something about a person, place, or thing based on how the author described it.
Used a historical concept, theme, belief, or idea to further explain the significance or characteristics of the source.
Ask students a text based questions, such as
- Does Lemay believe that Pocahontas saved John Smith’s life? What evidence does he provide for his argument?
- According to the author of this speech, what kind of person is Nat Turner? What proof does he provide to illustrate that Turner is this type of person?
- Carefully read Lincoln’s response to Douglas. On what points is Lincoln willing to agree with Douglas? On what points does he differ from Douglas?