Primary Source Analysis Tool

In this lesson, explore the ways natural disasters have affected American lives. Examine records people made of their experiences. Try to find out how people felt who lived through each event. How did they recover? What changed because of their experience? What lessons did they learn? When you finish, put yourself into the shoes of an eyewitness to one of American history's most remarkable events and tell the story of the disaster in your own words.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.4.3
Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.
CLE 3001.5.3
Evaluate an argument, considering false premises, logical fallacies, and the quality of evidence presented.
GLE 0306.5.1
Organize, display, and analyze data using various representations to solve problems.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will be able:

  • Read and discuss literary and nonliterary texts in order to understand human experience.
  • Read to acquire information from a variety of sources.
  • Orally communicate information, opinions, and ideas effectively to an audience for a particular purpose.
  • Interpret history using a variety of sources, such as biographies, diaries, journals, artifacts, eyewitness interviews, and other primary source materials.
Essential and guiding questions: 

What were your feelings after reading the first chapter of the book? What gave you this impression?

What details did the author use to show the setting of the story and give you a sense of what the characters were like?

What were the main problems the characters faced in the story? How did they attempt to solve them?

What surprised or confused you in the book?

What was the passage that seemed most real to you?

What did the characters or their families, communities, or governments do to help people recover from the event?

What effects did the event have on the characters' lives and on their communities?

What lessons did you learn from the way people handled the event?

What questions would you like answered about the event?

What changes would you have made in the story?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Students may extend their experience by examining a recent natural disaster, locating and analyzing primary source documents related to it, and noting similarities and differences to those of earlier times. Students may also examine how the events are presented in children's books.

Helpful Hints

Materials needed:

  • Primary Source Analysis Tool