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How to Lead Weekly Discussion for History Class - Primary and Secondary Sources

Understand the difference between primary and secondary sources

You and your designated group will be responsible for presenting and leading the one of the weekly discussions in one of weeks 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.  You do not have to introduce the Brower textbook or the Further reading/viewing sources. There are two or readings per week.  Make sure you are clear whether you are dealing with a primary or secondary source and then proceed to research and analyze the source by addressing the source questions below. You may wish to introduce some brief comparisons or make some analogies during your presentation. The presentation for each source should be no more that 4-5 minutes. See the Weeks 3, 4 powerpoints/videos, where the instructor will present the sources 

Source Questions

Primary sources were written or created during the time the history took place. They are original sources of information that give us insight into historical events. 

For primary sources, address the seven primary source questions: 

1. Who is the Author?
What is their background, education, affiliation? An author's identity sometimes helps you answer the later questions.
2. What Type of source is this?
Is it a photograph, a poem, a personal journal, or a government document? This is a simple but crucial step because you must consider what you can expect to learn from the document.
3. What is the Message of this source?
What is the author describing? What is happening in the text or image? What is the story?
4. Who is the intended audience?
Who is the author addressing? Was the source intended for private or public consumption? Identifying the audience will help you answer the next question. 
5. Why was this source created?
Does the author have an agenda, a larger purpose? Is the author trying to persuade the audience? Is the document or source simply a compilation of facts, or does it include opinion, inference, or interpretation?
6. Is this source credible and accurate?
Be critical. Does the document make sense? Do the facts presented by the author or what you know about the time period support the thesis, statement, assertion, or story the author is conveying? Is the author biased, if so, what do you think accounts for their bias? Why should you trust, or distrust, this source? 
7. How is this source valuable to us? 
How does the source relate to other sources from the time period or along the same issue or theme? Does it support or contradict them? Does it repeat information from other sources or add new information? 

Explore different questions to consider when analyzing primary and secondary sources

Secondary sources were written after the historical events took place by people who did not experience them. Secondary sources offer interpretations of historical events and may differ in their arguments, perspectives, and analysis. The quality of a secondary source comes down to the persuasiveness of the arguments the writer is making and the quality of the sources and evidence they use.

For secondary sources, address the following (ATMS) questions in your presentation:

1. Author: Who is the author? 
2. Thesis: What is the main or controlling argument? *Think: How could you summarize what the author is saying in one or two sentences?
3. Motive: Why might the author have written this? *Think: is the author trying to prove a point? Were they influenced by politics or ideology?  What is the context in which the arguments were made?
4. Sources: What sources has the author used?
Presentation Evaluation Criteria: Spoken Skills, Understanding of Source, Time Management, Level of Research, and teamwork. *This evaluation is collective unless there are obvious discrepancies in the workload. 
I will be presenting the sources during the first few weeks of the course, so you should have a good idea what is expected of you.


Discussion Evaluation
After the group presentations, members of the presenting group will split up and will each run a discussion with one of the other groups in the class. First, ask the italicized questions for the respective sources in the Weekly Schedule. Next, ask two discussion questions of your own for each source and choose a short (1-2 sentences) quote from each source with an identifiable issue so you can simply ask the group questions like: What is the issue here? What does this mean? Why is this significant? It is better to have too many questions than not enough. I will except the group discussions to last 15-20 minutes and be on topic.

You must prepare the questions in advance with your group members. Before you meet, you should have read and thought about all the week’s sources so you are prepared to contribute to the question writing process. 

*Please make sure your questions can promote discussion. A closed question (ie: Who wrote the ‘Blank Check’?) will not promote much discussion. A counterfactual question (ie: What would have happened if Germany had won World War I?) may be difficult to answer and may go well beyond the focus of the class. A better discussion would be “Does the Black Check make Germany uniquely responsible for starting World War I? Try to ‘test drive’ your questions with your group before class. If it gets you talking, there’s a better chance it will promote discussion in class. 
*If you are struggling with questions, check with me.

Discover how to promote discussion and evaluate the quality of discussion

You will put your questions on a blank Discussion Evaluation Sheet, which will be available on Blackboard. The Discussion Evaluation Sheet will provide you with a framework to run the discussion and to assess the group. Before you begin the discussion, introduce yourself and record everyone’s name clearly on the Discussion Evaluation Sheet.  Run the discussion and try to keep the conversation focused on the sources and the issues. As long as it is quality conversation, it’s ok if you don’t finish all the questions, but you should finish most of them. 

After you finish running your discussion (likely near the end of the class), you should complete the assessment questions quickly while the events are fresh in your mind. You must also give the people you had your discussion with a letter grade based on the quality and quantity of their participation. There will also be space for your comments (for best results, make some) and how things were with you and your fellow presenters.  

Your completed Discussion Evaluation Sheet is due the week after you present and run your discussion. For example, if you present on June 21, it is due on June 28 by 23:59. If you wish, you can type up your notes on a new Discussion Evaluation Sheet but be sure to include your original sheet with the names written on it. *You must also include a bibliography of the sources you consulted in your research of the week’s readings with your completed Discussion Evaluation Sheet.  

**Submit your completed Discussion Evaluation Sheet as a Word Doc or pdf to Blackboard. You will find a submission folder via the Assignments folder. 

*Your Discussion Evaluation Sheet is confidential. I will consider your evaluation of your peers in my end of term participation evaluation. 

Evaluation: Quality of questions and quotes, thoroughness of feedback on sheet, Engagement level and quality of discussion in class, Understanding of Sources, Time Management, Level of Research, and teamwork. *This evaluation is primarily individual. 

I will run a demonstration and provide a sample Discussion Evaluation Sheet as part of the workshop.

*I will provide a grade and written feedback on your Presentation and your Discussion Evaluation Sheet.

Groups Composition: I will delegate the groups in Week 4 and provide a schedule, which will be posted in Blackboard. 

**Volunteer facilitators. Depending on the number of people in the class, additional discussion facilitators may be required for some of the weekly readings. We will address this need if necessary. If you are interested in being volunteer facilitators, please let me know.

Whether you are in a given week’s presentation or response group or not, you are expected to read the weekly reading in advance of class and be prepared to answer questions and discuss the readings and the related historical topics. To help you prepare, try to answer the ATM questions for the primary sources and the ATMS questions for the secondary sources. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be able to make quality contributions to class discussions. 
Question 1: from Weekly Schedule):
What was the theory of eugenics as touted by Sir Francis Galton and what were some of the implications of the acceptance of the theory?

Question 2: 
What was the reasoning behind using eugenics as a “progressive” means to understand human relations and solve problems? Discuss two examples 

Question 3: 
Do you think these ideas of “nature vs nurture” and “survival of the fittest” are still popular today? If so, can you think of some examples that you have seen or heard of from your own life experience? 

“One of the biggest fans of the American eugenics movement was Adolf Hitler, the chancellor of Nazi Germany. When the world discovered the role eugenics played in Hitler’s campaign to cleanse the Third Reich of its “unfit,” it drummed a final nail into the eugenics movement coffin.”

Do you find this surprising? Considering this quote, how does what you have learned apply to your understanding of Nazi Germany?

Source 2: Excepts on Harry L. Shapiro (combined in pdf on Blackboard): 

Question 1 (from Weekly Schedule):
Who was Harry L. Shapiro? What research did he undertake and how did his findings challenge accepted beliefs in racial science? 

Question 2:
Why do you think the reviewer (in the second source) finds the section of Shapiro’s book “entitled Down to Cases” “particularly interesting”? 

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