Sunday, January 24, 2016

Firsthand and Secondhand Accounts... with a Mentor Text and Anchor Chart!

Since February is about a week away, I thought I'd focus on the subject of firsthand and secondhand accounts. I find that it works perfectly to tie this concept in with Black History month. There are so many excellent primary and secondary sources related to Black History.

The book Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges is my favorite resource to have when teaching about firsthand and secondhand accounts. If you don't have a personal copy and your library doesn't provide one, I highly recommend requesting that your librarian order a copy the next time she places a book order. It's an incredible book that teaches students a lot about the Civil Rights Movement- from the perspective of a child. Many of the accounts are jaw-dropping, and are sure to spark the beginnings of some powerful discussions. I thought I knew the gist of the Ruby Bridges story... until I read this riveting book! The book is entitled Through My Eyes, but there are many accounts written in the sidebars by other people, including Lucille Bridges (Ruby's mother), Mrs. Henry (Ruby's teacher), and Mr. Coles (Ruby's psychologist). There are also excerpts taken from 1960s publications including Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, and U.S. News and World Report.

As for how it relates to teaching about firsthand and secondhand accounts, the book is full of various examples- photographs, quotes, narratives, and excerpts. As you read the book, you can ask students to analyze the various accounts and determine whether each is a firsthand or a secondhand account. Let me illustrate a few examples:

Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!

Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!
After reading this newspaper article excerpt from The New York Times, we can discuss how we don't have enough information to determine whether it's a firsthand account or a secondhand account, because we don't know if the author was at the event. The incredible amount of detail leads me to believe that there was a reporter at the event, but we cannot be 100% positive.

Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!

Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!
This page tells the story of one of the very few white families who tried to keep their child in school despite the angry protesters. The use of "she" in the Good Housekeeping magazine article is a clue that helps us to be certain this is a secondhand account: "That night, she woke up screaming. When Daisy went to her, she was babbling about..."

Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!

I use this book on the third day of my Firsthand and Secondhand Accounts unit. (On Day 1, I show students my Firsthand and Secondhand Events PowerPoint, and on Day 2, students complete a sorting activity.) Therefore, they have a basic understanding of the differences between primary and secondary sources, and they are now applying this knowledge.

In conclusion, I would like to share the anchor chart I have created to accompany the lesson I have described above. (I have a slight addiction to anchor charts!) 
Teaching firsthand and secondhand accounts? Check out this blog post that contains a mentor text idea and an anchor chart!
Clip art by Educlips
I begin the lesson by displaying this anchor chart. (Prior to class, I draw the top half of the anchor chart- with the headings and definitions.) We quickly review how the images on the anchor chart help us remember the difference between firsthand accounts and secondhand accounts. The boy with the camera represents firsthand accounts, because a person providing a firsthand account of an event would have been present at the event and would have been able to take a photograph of it. The girl reading a book represents secondhand accounts because a person providing a secondhand account was NOT present at the event the are describing. In fact, they usually gather information for their account by reading about the event and doing extensive research. I have the students help me record examples in each column, and we discuss how newspaper articles, magazine articles, and paintings need to be analyzed extra carefully. I remind students that we can only determine whether they are a firsthand or secondhand account if we know whether the author/artist was at the event they are describing. After this quick review, we are ready to begin reading Through My Eyes and analyzing the accounts.

Thanks for visiting today. If you have an extra minute, head on over to my personal blog, Crafting Connections, where I am hosting a celebration giveaway. (TpT gift certificates are the prize!)