I recently started reading Transformational Literacy: Making the Common Core Shift With Work That Matters. Written by Ron Berger and a team of educators, the book provides both theory and practical advice on how to retool our teaching to meet the rigor and complexity of the Common Core.
Early on, the authors make a point that resonated with me: students sometimes “may find ways to avoid reading if given the opportunity to bypass difficult text with other media, such as video or images.” But the standards heavily emphasize written text and the creators of the Common Core were aware of this when they suggested “reading and interpreting multimedia in relationship to text.”
So, how best to make that connection between text and multimedia sources? How do we set up our students for success when it comes to analyzing things that aren’t text?
As we ask students to integrate literacy skills across the curriculum, it makes sense that we find primary source documents from the realms of math, science, history, the arts, or other areas in order to encourage students to think deeply and critically.
I’ve added links to this post with PDF forms created by the National Archives to assist with analyzing and understanding “primary source documents.” What is a primary source? An original object from a historical period (i.e. photo, piece of writing, motion picture, cartoon, poster, sound recording, or physical artifact) is a primary source. Sometimes to understand a subject it helps to study primary sources directly rather than reading secondary sources written about them.
The analysis worksheets from the National Archives will help students evaluate and better understand a particular primary source item.