To view entire lesson use:  Save our History-Lesson 1 final.pdf 


Day 1:

I.  Attention Getter:

      Handout a copy of "The House" Reading with a Purpose.pdf

  • While reading have students circle with their pencils whatever they feel is significant to understanding the reading.
    • Using what they have circled, have students construct one definitive statement that summarizes the reading.
  • Next, have students re-read "The House", but this time read it from the perspective of a robber.  Have students underline places in the reading that a robber would find important.
    • Using what they have underlined, have students construct one definitive statement that summarizes the reading from a robber’s perspective.
  • Finally, have students re-read "The House", but this time read it from the perspective of a homebuyer.  Have students square in the places in the reading a home buyer would find important
    • Using what they have squared in have students construct one definitive statement that summarizes the reading from a home buyers perspective.


  • This procedure illustrates the importance of establishing a purpose for students whether it is in reading a primary passage, interpreting charts or even inferring political cartoons.  



II.  Objective:  

  • To introduce S.O.A.P.S. as a literacy tool to help students flesh out the significance of a primary document.
  • To introduce the concept of a definitive paragraph.


III.  New Information:


      A)  What is S.O.A.P.S?      S.O.A.P.S. Primary Document Strategy.pdf




            2)  Goal of S.O.A.P.S?  

·         When confronted with a reading passage or document students need a process to help them begin to determine the purpose or significance of the document.

·         It will then be much easier to interpret or even gather evidence from the document when students have a literacy tool to help them begin the process of finding the purpose of a reading passage or document.

            3)  What is a definitive paragraph?   Definitive Paragraph Instructions.pdf


                        A)  State a definitive point

                        B)  Explain the definitive point

                        C)  Support with specific factual information (the evidence) gathered from document


IV:  Assignment:

Students need to research and bring with them to class a copy of what they think is an example of a primary document from United States history during the time period of 1900-1930.


Day 2:

I.  Attention Getter: 

  • Place students in groups of 4.
  • Use the S.O.A.P.S strategy sheet SOAPS Passenger List Collection sht.pdf to collect as much interpretation as possible about the two passenger lists.
  • Within each group of 4, two students will work together to interpret Jamestown Settlers using the strategy sheet.
  • The other two students will work together to interpret Massachusetts Bay Colony Settlers using the strategy sheet.
  • Each group will then exchange/view the other’s document with each group presenting their conclusions on their primary document. 
  • NOW, each student will write one sentence that would “definitively” state the significance of the primary document.  One sentence will be written for each of the lists.  Use the space provide on the S.O.A.P.S strategy sheet. Students should use  SOAPS Definitive paragraph rubric.pdf to evaluate their definitive statements.


II.  Objective:

·        Students will understand the difference between a primary document and secondary document.

·        Students will use the literacy tool S.O.A.P.S to interpret the significance of a primary document.


III.  New Information:


A)  The “Tool-Box” of History:


                        1)  What are the two types of research tools used to investigate history? 


                                    A)  What is a Primary Source? Documents of History


                                    B)  What is a Secondary Source? Documents of History


                                    C)  Draw conclusions about the differences of each

·        Primary Document

o       has not been interpreted

o       can be affected by the opinion of the interpretor

·        Secondary Document

o       has been interpreted

o       interpretation can be biased or incorrect


D)  In the groups, have students exchange their homework example from

      Day 1 (the copy of what they think is an example of a primary document    

      from United States history)


·      Have students determine if the document they have is either primary or secondary based on their understanding of each type of document.

·      Using the S.O.A.P.S strategy sheet have students in each group collect as much information on the sheet as possible using one of the PRIMARY documents.

o      SOAPS general collection sheet.pdf



E)  Assignment:  

·         Using the evidence collected on the S.O.A.P.S strategy sheet, have students write one sentence that would “definitively” state the significance of the primary document.  Students should self-assess using SOAPS Definitive paragraph rubric.pdf



Day 3:


I.  Attention Getter: 

·        Randomly hand out Doc A and Doc B Primary Documents A B.pdf:

·        Have students collect evidence using SOAPS general student sheet.pdf for their document                      



II.  Objective:   

·        Students will understand the concept of historical thinking.

III.  New Information


            A)  The Art of Historical Thinking


                        1)  H.S.I. Looking For S.F.I.  Explanation of H.S.I.pdf


A)  Primary Document:  Frame of Mind


·        When confronted with a Primary Document, try to get the students to think of this process in the following way:

§         They are part of the Crime Scene Investigation process (C.S.I.) and are detectives who have arrived at a place involving some crime.  But in this case they are “Historical Scene Investigators” (H.S.I.).

§         The (H.S.I.) detective needs to collect the evidence or the Specific Factual Information (S.F.I.) of the moment in time.

§         The (S.F.I.) will be interpreted to help draw some level of conclusions that will eventually be used to attempt to prove the case at a trial.

§         Remind students that “Second-Hand” accounts of a crime are NOT allowed in court.  Courts would consider this “hearsay.”


      B) Primary Document:  Interpretation


·        When confronted by a primary document, there are two levels to primary document interpretation. 


§         One is as if the student is a lawyer about to question a witness/primary document at a trial.

o       Obviously, it helps if, as the lawyer, students have some evidence collected prior to being confronted with the primary document or witness.

o       It will then be much easier to interpret or even gather even more evidence from the document as a witness, allowing students to draw conclusions from the witness. 

o       This allows for questions to be developed that can then be used when that witness is called to the “witness box of history.” 

o       It is then up to the jury or audience to decide if the interpretations of the primary document match the evidence.


§         But as we know, students may not have any prior knowledge about the primary document. 

o       It is much like the detective who first finds the crime scene…the detective has to have a system to collect the initial evidence to be used for further analysis…this is usually the level our students are at.

o       This is where the S.O.A.P.S. method can really help to begin creating definitive statements that can be used to evaluate the primary document.




2)  Writing and Proving Inferences


                                    A)  Using the information collected in the attention getter, have

                                          students write a definitive paragraph for their assigned

                                          document.  Definitive Paragraph Instructions.pdf


                                                1)  Just like a lawyer in the court room, the student needs

                                                      to state a definitive point about the evidence that was



                                                2)  The student next needs to explain their definitive point.


                                                3)  Finally, the student needs to use the evidence or

                                                      specific factual information collected from the primary

                                                      document to prove their point and explanation.


                                    B)  Once they have completed with their paragraphs, have

                                          students peer edit using:

                                                SOAPS Definitive paragraph rubric.pdf   


                                    C)  View an example of a student written definitive paragraph.


·        This completed definitive paragraph was written by a 10th grader.  It serves to illustrate an upper level definitive paragraph.

                                                                       Bataan Death March definitive paragraph.pdf


·        This student work was completed after students viewed a primary film documentary (In the Hands of the Enemy) on ninety-nine men from Janesville, Wisconsin who during World War Two endured the Bataan Death March as soldiers.  While viewing the documentary, students used the SOAPS general collection sheet.pdf to gather the evidence needed to complete an assigned definitive paragraph.