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8th-grade Inquiry Unit - Immerse Lesson 


Lesson Title: How Can We Use Primary Source Documents and Artifacts to Learn about Denton County Just Before, During, and Immediately After the Civil War?


Inquiry Phase: Immerse


Grade Level: 8th Grade


Essential Questions:

1. What was the impact of the Civil War on Denton County citizens?

2. How can we assess primary source artifacts and secondary source materials in terms of validity and bias and use these resources to support a particular interpretation of historical events?


Lesson Plan Objectives:

At the end of these lessons, students will be able to:

1. Cite evidence from a primary source document and an artifact.

2. Connect evidence with background knowledge in order to make inferences.

3. Draw conclusions about the validity and bias of a specific primary source and artifact.


Social Studies TEKS (for this lesson):

§113.20. (b) Knowledge and skills.

(29) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including electronic technology. The student is expected to:

(A) differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about the United States;

(B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions.

(G) evaluate the validity of a source based on language, corroboration with other sources, and information about the author.


ELA-R TEKS (for this lesson):


(9) Students analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about the author's purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Students are expected to analyze works written on the same topic and compare how the authors achieved similar or different purposes.


Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Indicators:

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life.

1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.


Assessment Tools: Anticipation Guide and Inference Graphic Organizer and Exit Ticket


Resources for this Unit of Study


Resources for this Lesson

Anticipation Guide and Inferences Graphic Organizer

Anticipation Guide and Inferences Graphic Organizer Teacher Resource

"Civil War Songs" YouTube Video with photographs and paintings and other primary source documents from the Civil War era: http://youtu.be/eFm7ixyG5I8

“Our Confederate Soldiers, Denton County, 1861 – 1912” VoiceThread and Script

Possible Evidence Teacher Resource

Exit Ticket


Estimated Lesson Time: One 50-minute Lesson


Instructional Plan Outline:

Classroom Teacher – School Librarian(s) Collaboration:

• The classroom teacher and school librarian review all of the resources and prepare for think-alouds to demonstrate citing evidence, connecting with background knowledge, and drawing an inference.

• Educators stress the importance of learning as much as possible about the author/creator of a primary source document in order to determine the author’s point of view (bias).

• Educators comonitor students’ guided practice and jointly review the students’ Anticipation Guide and Inference Graphic Organizers and Exit Tickets.


Measurable Outcome or Final Product: With educator guidance, students will draw inferences from a primary source document and an artifact. They make inferences regarding the point of view, validity, and/or bias of the author of the document and creators of the artifact.



• The educators make one copy of the Anticipation Guide and Inference Graphic Organizer and Exit Ticket (optional) for each student (or small group) or provide the graphic organizer electronically.

• The educators review the resources and prepare think-alouds to respond to the “Our Confederate Soldiers, Denton County, 1861 – 1912” VoiceThread: http://tinyurl.com/di4ll-8-resources-VT

• Integrate academic vocabulary into think-alouds: inquiry, background knowledge, inference, notemaking, and citing evidence.

• Integrate discipline-specific vocabulary into the lesson: primary source documents and artifacts, secondary source documents, Unionist, abolition/abolitionist, secede, validity, bias, and point of view.



1. Educators distribute the Anticipation Guide and Inference Graphic Organizer and demonstrate how to record responses to the five true/false/unknown (N/K) statements on the Anticipation Guide. Let students know they will be reviewing their responses at the end of the presentation for this lesson.

2. Play the “Civil War Songs” YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/eFm7ixyG5I8

3. Educators use think-alouds to respond to the video, define primary sources, and note the video is illustrated (for the most part) with primary source documents. Note: What is wrong with this video? No citations!

4. Brainstorm and post a list of primary source documents: paintings and drawings, photographs, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, recordings, posters/flyers, books, letters, diary entries, and other artifacts from the time period. (Optional create and post a word cloud)

5. Educators post the lesson objectives and let students know the class will begin investigating Denton County in the Civil War era through learning about a monument on the square. They will use this introduction to help them develop open-ended questions of their own before conducting an inquiry study.



6. Educators play the “Our Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1912” VoiceThread.

7. Educators ask, “What makes a primary source ‘valid’? Does every resource have a point of view? How can we determine bias in a primary source?”

8. Educators use think-alouds to ponder the information found in the book by Mr. Bates (the presentation script). They begin by reading the background information on Mr. Bates and ask: “Why is it important to know as much as possible about the author of a primary source document or artifact?”

9. Educators project the script, use think-alouds, and take turns highlighting the phrases and passages that cause them and the students to wonder. (See Possible Evidence Teacher Resource.)

10. Educators project the “Our Conference Soldiers” Monument wiki page (photographs) and ask, “How many students have seen this monument on the courthouse square? What have we learned about it from Mr. Bates’ writing? What can we infer from reading the dedication on the monument?”

11. Educators select and cite a quote from the VoiceThread script and use think-alouds to model connecting to background knowledge and information and making an inference to complete the Inference Graphic Organizer. (See the Anticipation Guide and Inference Graphic Organizer Teacher Resource).


Student Participation

12. Give students time to revisit the five statements and mark their “after reading” responses on the graphic organizer. Note: This lesson has not provided enough information to determine a “true” or “false” response for the first three statements.


Guided Practice

13. Educators monitor as students select a phrase or passage from the script, record their background knowledge or information from the script or monument, and make an inference about the validity, point of view, or bias found in Mr. Bates’s book.


Closure and Reflection

14. Students sit in small groups and share their inferences.

15. Educators and students review: “What is a primary source? What makes a source valid? How can we detect bias in a source? How do we make inferences from information?”

16. Students complete Exit Tickets (optional).



17. Educators assess the students’ Inference Graphic Organizers and Exit Tickets (optional).


Lesson Plan Resources


For Students






For Educators








Lesson Plans










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