Author:
Regina Jordan, Oregon Open Learning
Subject:
Language Education (ESL), Reading Informational Text, U.S. History
Material Type:
Lesson, Lesson Plan, Primary Source
Level:
Middle School, High School
Grade:
8
Tags:
  • ELL
  • ELP3
  • ELP4
  • ELP5
  • Emergent Bilingual
  • History
  • MLEL-Bank
  • Oregon OER Quality Framework
  • ell
  • emergent-bilingual
  • history
  • mlel-bank
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Evaluating Eyewitness Reports w/ELL students

    Evaluating Eyewitness Reports w/ELL students

    Overview

    This lesson is an adaptation of a history lesson designed by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The focus of the lesson is on comparing and contrasting primary sources describing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 in order to teach students methods for evaluating historical sources.  The historical content has been paired with English proficiency standards to help support students comprehension of challenging historical documents.  It is designed for high school, but with some adaptation could be used in an 8th grade classroom.  The lessons are designed to support Intermediate to Advanced (ELP 3-5) language learners, although students with Beginning proficiency (ELP 1-2) would find some success with this as well.  Students compare two newspaper reports on the fire and two memoirs of the fire written many decades later, with an eye on how these accounts complement and compete with one another, and how these sources can be used to draw historical meaning from them.

    LESSON DESCRIPTION

    Evaluating Eyewitness Reports with ELL Students

    Author of the Lesson:  Regina Jordan

    Lesson Summary/Overview:

    This lesson is an adaptation of a history lesson designed by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  It is designed for high school, but with some adaptation could be used in an 8th grade classroom.  The focus of the lesson is on comparing and contrasting primary sources describing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 in order to teach students methods for evaluating historical sources.  The historical content has been paired with English proficiency standards to help support students comprehension of challenging historical documents.  By scaffolding these lessons students have more equitable access to the curriculum regardless of language background.  Students compare two newspaper reports on the fire and two memoirs of the fire written many decades later, with an eye on how these accounts complement and compete with one another, and how these sources can be used to draw historical meaning from them.

    It is not necessary to review the original lesson in order to use this unit.  However, a link to the original lesson is included for reference.  Evaluating Eyewitness Reports | NEH-Edsitement

    Background on the Great Chicago Fire of 1871:

    Fires had become a common occurrence in Chicago at the time.  Leading up to the Great Chicago Fire, the city had had its worst year on record for fires.  City planning made the city vulnerable, firefighters were trying to handle a difficult situation with old equipment, and the summer of 1871 had been a very dry year adding even more risk.  On October 8, 1871 a fire started and quickly spread.  In the three days it burned, large portions of the city were destroyed.  By the time it was all done, over 17,000 buildings burned, more than 300 people died, and over 100,000 residents were left homeless.  

    For further background visit the Chicago Historical Society’s website dedicated to the fire:  The Great Chicago Fire

    LESSON GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    Alignment and Objectives

    Content Standards:  

    • HS.67 Evaluate historical sources for perspective, limitations, accuracy, and historical context.
    •  HS.73 Identify and analyze multiple and diverse perspectives as critical consumers of information.

    Content Objectives:  

    • I can evaluate historical sources while considering: perspective, limitations, accuracy, and historical context.
    • I can identify and analyze multiple perspectives while evaluating historical evidence.

    ELP Standards:

    • An ELL can . . . construct meaning from oral presentations and literary and informational text through grade appropriate listening, reading, and viewing.
    • An ELL can . . . determine the meaning of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text.

    Language (ELP) Objectives:

    • I can summarize the main idea and supporting details in a historical source.
    • I can define important words and phrases in a historical source.

    Supporting Academic Language

    Language Functions:

    • Summarize
    • Compare and contrast
    • Analyze and Evaluate

     

    Language Modalities:

    • Receptive
    • Listening
    • Reading
    • Productive
    • Speaking
    • Writing

    Vocabulary:

    Tier 2Tier 3
    perspective, limitations, accuracy, historical, context,  identify, analyze, multiple, evidence, main idea, supporting detail, source, summarize, definedestroy, structures, request, alarmed, alert, expand, advance, insignificant, distress, escape, rescueconflagration, annihilation, recollect, shanties, debris, heedless, flee, calamity, blaze, ablaze,

     

    Syntax or Sentence Structure(s):

    Mini Lessons at the start of each lesson will focus on parenthetical phrases, as these are common in the historical sources.  

    In addition to this, sentence frames will be provided to support productive language such verbal discussions and written responses.  See individual lessons for examples.

    Discourse:

    Students will have opportunities to discuss their impressions of each historical source.  Dialogue skills will be used and supported within the lessons.

    LESSON PREPARATION

    Considerations

    Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills:

    Students should be familiar with a basic style of annotation that fits the teacher’s expectations.  This can include highlighting and note taking styles appropriate for your classroom.  Knowledge of basic parts of speech is helpful, but the teacher can also provide this during the embedded grammar/syntax activities.  

    Students should also have routines in place for partner/group work and group discussions.  Sentence frames that prompt discussion should be made available to students.

    Instructional Materials

    Resources, Materials, and Technology required or recommended for the lesson:

    Learning Supports

    Socio-emotional supports:  This lesson explores a traumatic event.  Students may have experienced events that permanently altered their lives as well.  Teachers should be prepared to allow students to share both verbally and in writing any connections they make to the lesson.  A classroom atmosphere of supportive response should be modeled and upheld by the teacher.

    Cultural & Linguistic Responsiveness:  These lessons work to leverage students’ home languages while note taking and reading for comprehension.  In addition to this, Spanish language versions of some activities have been incorporated into the lessons.  Audio versions of the primary sources with Spanish language summaries of events have also been provided.  

    Special note about the Chicago Evening Post article:  This article uses language that is no longer appropriate for day to day use.  Racial descriptors are used as well as other vocabulary that may make for challenging discussions (i.e. the use of the word cock for a rooster, etc)  and the teacher should evaluate their classroom, school, and district to determine if using this historical source supports your educational environment.  The unit is still complete if the teacher chooses not to use that source.

    There are also multiple opportunities for students to share personal experiences related to the subject matter.  Creating time for students to share their perspectives is expected throughout the lessons.  For example, the legend that blames Mrs. O’Leary and her cow for the cause of the fire is an excellent place to discuss the darker side of the immigrant experience.  As the Chicago History Museum points out, Mrs. O’Leary was an easy scapegoat.  She was a member of an immigrant class that was perceived as a “recognizable type who could readily be made to stand for careless building, sloppy conduct, and a shiftless immigrant underclass.”  Discussions around Mrs. O’Leary and immigrant stereotypes could be a jumping off point for discussions of how modern stereotypes affect immigrants today.  The teacher should encourage and support student discussion of their experiences related to stereotypes.  

    Another opportunity for student discussion is to pose the questions, “What voices are missing in our primary sources? Who would you like to hear from?  How do you think their perspectives would differ? How can we make these activities more linguistically and culturally diverse?”  Students' thoughts and comments should be recorded and displayed in the same manner as the other sources and images used in the lesson (ie: in a bulletin board display).  Extension activities can be developed based on students’ answers to these questions.  Students could research if other sources are available.  They could explore the ethnic makeup of Chicago over the last three hundred years.  

    Above all else, the teacher should create an atmosphere that encourages trust and risk taking by listening to students, validating their experiences, and encouraging further investigation of topics and experiences they bring to the classroom discussions.

    Accessibility:  Primary sources are provided in a number of formats.  The original writing is adapted by creating versions that break the reading into small chunks and allow students to take notes using visuals, home language, or any other support.  In addition to this, audio recordings of the primary sources with summaries in Spanish are provided for those students who may not be literate in either their home language or English.  

    Instructional Supports

    Differentiation:  Several strategies are used to support diverse learners.  These include:  multiple readings of the same text with a gradual release of responsibility, heterogeneous pairings of students for reading the sources, Spanish language summaries of the sources, audio recordings of the sources.

    L1 Supports:  Students are encouraged to translanguage (use words from more than one language) both verbally and in writing in ways that support their learning.  Several activities have Spanish language versions as well.

    L2 Development (by level):

    Beginning:  Sentence frames using basic syntax are offered to students.  Vocabulary work focuses on Tier 1 and Tier 2 words they will see across multiple classrooms.  Audio versions of primary sources are offered to support reading comprehension.

    Intermediate:  Sentence frames using intermediate syntax are offered to students.  Vocabulary work focuses on Tier 2 words they will see across multiple classrooms.  Audio versions of primary sources are offered to support reading comprehension.

    Advanced:  Sentence frames using advanced syntax are offered to students.  Vocabulary work focuses on Tier 2 words they will see across multiple classrooms as well as Tier 3 specialized vocabulary.  Audio versions of primary sources are offered to support reading comprehension.


     

    LESSON PROCEDURES

    Activity 1 (Introduce unit and do pre-read activities for each historical source)

    Anticipatory Set/Motivation/Hook

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Begin discussion by discussing how some events are life changing events.  Use wildfires impacting the west coast as an example.  Invite but do not insist that students share personal events that may have been life changing.
    • Transition to the idea that different people experience the same event differently.  (With the wildfire example, have students imagine how a firefighter might experience the wildfires differently than a person who had to evacuate who would experience it differently than a person working a wildlife rescue clinic, etc). This is also an excellent opportunity to introduce the idea that different ethic, social, and economic groups may experience an event differently.  Again encourage students to express their personal experiences without insisting that they share in ways that make them uncomfortable.
      • Example from local events of this teacher:  the 2020 fire in Phoenix, Oregon burned large portions of Ashland, Phoenix, and Talent, OR.  Approximately, 30% of families in Phoenix-Talent school district lost their homes.  However, approximately 80% of ELL students lost their homes in the fire.  The discrepancy of the impact changed the experience for students in the local community.  Asking students to consider how this impacts these students is an excellent way to begin to encourage students to reflect on differing experiences.  However, the teacher should not simply focus on the disproportionate impact.  There are many stories of resilience that come out of this event.  For example, students had the opportunity to build furniture for themselves and others at the local maker’s space.  The same students that were impacted by the events, worked to rebuild their community.  A discussion around what impact it can have to take control of your community’s recovery is a powerful moment to explore the idea of resiliency.  
    • Introduce the idea that sources can disagree about an event.  Tie to current events.
    • Introduce the Great Chicago Fire with pictures. (Images can be found on the Chicago Historical Society website The Great Chicago Fire)
    • Explain students will spend time analyzing four sources of information about the fire.  Their job will be to compare and contrast the sources and evaluate each source's strengths and weaknesses.  

    START HERE TO REPLACE LINKS

    Focused Instruction (Teacher-as-Model)

    Time:  20 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Vocabulary activity: word wall
    • Begin building a word wall with a visual and textual entry for each word using the Frayer model.  
    • Words for activity 1
    • Historical, evidence, source, conflagration, blaze, parenthetical expression (parenthetical phrase)
    • Teacher may want to distinguish between words specific to fires such as conflagration and blaze and those with wider use.
    • Grammar activity
    • Parenthetical phrases
    • Define and create examples.  Students create their own example.  Create word wall for examples of parenthetical phrases.
    • Teacher think aloud for first document (Tribune Article without summaries)
    • Top half of Written Document Analysis Worksheet: "Meet the Document" (does not require reading entire source)

    Guided Instruction (Teacher-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 5- 10 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Whole class discussion of second document (Chicago Evening Post without summaries)
    • Note:  The Chicago Evening Post article does contain sensitive language.  The teacher should read the article ahead of time and decide if it is appropriate for their class.  If not, simply skip this document and continue gradual release of responsibility with the other documents.
      • If this article is included, it is an excellent opportunity for discussion.  Students should be encouraged to reflect on how word choice impacts a reader.  Do they have personal examples of times when word choice impacted them?  Are there ways of speaking and writing they would like to see more and ones they wish would disappear?
    • Top half of Written Document Analysis Worksheet: "Meet the Document" (does not require reading entire source)

    Group Application (Student-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 5-10 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Small group/partner discussion of third document (Bessie Bradwell Helmer Memoir without summaries)
    • Top half of Written Document Analysis Worksheet: "Meet the Document" (does not require reading entire source)
    • Debrief whole class to check understanding

    Individual Learning (Independent Practice and Application)

    Time: 5-10 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Individual examination of fourth document (Mary Kehoe Memoir without summaries)
    • Top half of Written Document Analysis Worksheet: "Meet the Document" as “ticket out the door” style formative assessment.  
    • Teacher circulates through room answering questions
    • Differentiation:  Ok to partner students who need language support.

    Closure

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:  

    • Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity
    • “One thing I learned today” verbal share out.  Ideally, all students share one thing.  Repetition of an answer is permitted and encouraged for students whose English proficiency is still developing.

    ASSESSMENTS

    Formative Assessment

    Content:  Top portion of Written Document Analysis Worksheet for sources 3 and 4

    Language:  Student copy of completed Frayer model

    LESSON PROCEDURES

    Activity 2 (Reading and notetaking intro.  Will take multiple days/lessons)

    Anticipatory Set/Motivation/Hook

    Time: 5-10 minutes  (As it will take 3-4 days to complete reading all the articles, the anticipatory set here can be used at the beginning of each lesson regardless of how far the reading and annotating has progressed.)

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Review the idea that sources can disagree about an event.  Tie to current events.
      • (See p. 8 above)
    • Display pictures of Great Chicago Fire.  Ask for reactions to images and ideas.  Encourage students to tie these to their own experiences.
      • Example:  local fires in 2020 greatly impacted students in Southern Oregon.  Allowing students to add pictures of their experiences to the display of Great Chicago Fire experiences elevated the students’ lives to the level of those found in history books. 
    • Remind students they will spend time analyzing four sources of information about the fire.  Their job will be to compare and contrast the sources and evaluate each source's strengths and weaknesses.  Let them know this activity will focus on reading for understanding.
    • Review Vocabulary and notes from the previous readings

    Focused Instruction (Teacher-as-Model)

    Time: 30 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Vocabulary activity
    • Add to word wall more visual Frayer models: (identify, destroy, shanties), (main idea, supporting details, structures), (identify, define, alert)
    • Grammar activity (sentence frames for note taking; common sentence patterns in reading)
    • Add a examples of a parenthetical clauses from the sources to classroom collection
    • Discuss and display sentence frames for the note taking activity.
    • Sentence Frames
    • One important idea is ____________ because ___________.
    • A new word for me is _____________.  I might use it (when/to) __________.
    • What does ________ mean?  How can I use it?
    • Why does the author write __________?  I think the author writes this because _____________.
    • Teacher think aloud for first document (The Tribune)
    • Teacher does read through of whole document with students
    • Audio version of text with summary explanations in Spanish of each section is available to support student comprehension (see Instructional Materials section for links)
    • Tribune Article
    • Introduce specialized note taking version of the source.  
    • Teacher then cloze reads section and stops at the first chunk.  Teacher begins to think aloud. Focus during think aloud:
      • Point out that reading is in chunks
      • Point out that each chunk has a guiding question
      • Each chunk has an open space for note taking that can include:
      • words from any language the student knows
      • diagrams
      • images
      • anything that helps the student understand, remember, and answer the target question
      • Noticings and reactions allowed
      • Sentence frames from grammar lesson
    • Teacher reads the first source and annotates the document then fills out the note taking section while doing a think aloud.  
    • Students follow along by copying teacher's annotations.

     

    Guided Instruction (Teacher-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 30 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Whole class annotation of second document (The Chicago Evening Post)
    • Teacher does read through with class of the whole document
    • Audio version of text with summary explanations in Spanish of each section is available to support student comprehension (see Instructional Materials section for links)
    • Chicago Evening Post Article
    • Teacher then does cloze read of a section and stops at the first chunk.
    • Students volunteer ideas to write down for note taking.  
    • Students copy the note taking ideas.

    Group Application (Student-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 30 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Teacher does read through with class of the whole third document (Mary Kehoe Letter)
      • Audio version of text with summary explanations in Spanish of each section is available to support student comprehension (see Instructional Materials section for links)
      • Mary Kehoe Memoir
    • Small group/partner read and annotate third document with note taking
      • Audio version of text with summary explanations in Spanish of each section is available to support student comprehension
      • Teacher circulates through room checking for understanding and finding volunteers to share out
      • Debrief whole class by having volunteers share examples of note taking
      • Teacher continues to encourage students to bring their experiences and perspectives to discussions.

    Individual Learning (Independent Practice and Application)

    Time: 30 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Individual/partner examination of fourth document (The Great Conflagration)
    • Audio version of text with summary explanations in Spanish of each section is available to support student comprehension (see Instructional Materials section for links)
    • Bessie Bradwell Helmer Memoir
    • Teacher circulates through room answering questions
    • Differentiation:  Ok to partner students who need language support in heterogeneous grouping

    Closure

    Time: As it will take 3-4 days to complete reading all the articles, the closure here can be used at the end of each lesson regardless of how far the reading and annotating has progressed.

    Teacher Does/Students Do:  Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity

    • Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity
    • “One thing I learned today” verbal share out.  Ideally, all students share one thing.  Repetition of an answer is permitted and encouraged for students whose English proficiency is still developing.

    ASSESSMENTS

    Formative Assessment

    Content:  Students annotation of sources 3 & 4

    Language:  Student copy of Frayer Model

    LESSON PROCEDURES

    Activity 3 (Analysis and Evaluation of newspaper articles)

    Anticipatory Set/Motivation/Hook

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Review the idea that sources can disagree about an event.  Tie to current events.
    • Remind students they will spend time analyzing four sources of information about the fire.  Their job will be to compare and contrast the sources and evaluate each source's strengths and weaknesses.  Let them know this activity will focus on evaluating the sources

    Focused Instruction (Teacher-as-Model)

    Time: 15 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Vocabulary activity
    • Add to word wall more visual Frayer models
    • Grammar activity (sentence frames for note taking; common sentence patterns in reading)
    • Add an example of a parenthetical clause from the first source to classroom collection
    • Discuss and display sentence frames for the note taking activity.
    • Introduce the questions that will be used to evaluate each article.
    • Review vocabulary
    • Introduceembeddedd sentence frames for answering questions
    • Discussion Questions Worksheets (Newspaper Articles) - provided in English, in English with sentence frames, and in Spanish

    Guided Instruction (Teacher-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 20 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Review annotated newspaper articles with class
    • Answer first questions together
    • Demonstrate using annotated document to find evidence for answers to questions

    Group Application (Student-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 20

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Students continue review of annotated documents and answer questions as a group for document
    • Continue to offer audio version for those students who need specialized support (i.e. students who are not literate in L1 and benefit from audio interpretation in L1)

    Individual Learning (Independent Practice and Application)

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Students reread and revise their worksheets.  Make any changes to them they want before turning them in.

     

    Closure

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:  Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity

    • Now that students have compared the sources, return to the discussion of what perspectives are missing.  
      • How do the backgrounds of the writers affect their retelling of the events?
      • Whose perspective do you wish you could read?  What do you think they would say?
      • This discussion should take precedence over the routine of “One thing I learned today” if time is an issue.
    • Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity
    • “One thing I learned today” verbal share out.  Ideally, all students share one thing.  Repetition of an answer is permitted and encouraged for students whose English proficiency is still developing.

    ASSESSMENTS

    Formative Assessment

    Content:  Bottom portion of Written Document Analysis Worksheet and students’ evaluations of sources 1 & 2

    Language:  Student copy of Frayer Model


    LESSON PROCEDURES

    Activity 4 (Analysis and Evaluation of eyewitness accounts)

    Anticipatory Set/Motivation/Hook

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Review the idea that sources can disagree about an event.  Tie to current events.
    • Remind students they will spend time analyzing four sources of information about the fire.  Their job will be to compare and contrast the sources and evaluate each source's strengths and weaknesses.  Let them know this activity will focus on evaluating the sources

    Focused Instruction (Teacher-as-Model)

    Time:  15 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Vocabulary activity
    • Add to word wall more visual Frayer models
    • Grammar activity (sentence frames for evaluation; common sentence structures in reading–can come from previous lessons discussions about difficult passages)
    • Introduce the questions that will be used to evaluate each source.
    • Review vocabulary
    • Discussion Questions Worksheets (Memoirs/Eyewitness Reports) - provided in English, in English with sentence frames, and in Spanish

    Guided Instruction (Teacher-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 20 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Review annotated eyewitness documents with class
    • Answer first questions together
    • Demonstrate using annotated document to find evidence for answers to questions

    Group Application (Student-to-Student Joint Responsibility)

    Time: 20 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Students continue review of annotated documents and answer questions as a group for documents

    Individual Learning (Independent Practice and Application)

    Time: 5-10 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:

    • Students reread and revise their worksheets.  Make any changes to them they want before turning them in.

    Closure

    Time: 5 minutes

    Teacher Does/Students Do:  Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity

    • Now that students have compared the sources, return to the discussion of what perspectives are missing.  
      • How do the backgrounds of the writers affect their retelling of the events?
      • Whose perspective do you wish you could read?  What do you think they would say?
      • This discussion should take precedence over the routine of “One thing I learned today” if time is an issue.
    • Time permitting, review/continue vocabulary activity
    • “One thing I learned today” verbal share out.  Ideally, all students share one thing.  Repetition of an answer is permitted and encouraged for students whose English proficiency is still developing.

    ASSESSMENTS

    Formative Assessment

    Content:  Bottom portion of Written Document Analysis Worksheet and students’ evaluations of sources 3 & 4

    Language:  Completed Frayer Model

    Plans for Summative Assessments

    Content:  Final revised written evaluations of all four sources. (Analysis Rubric)

    Language:  Final revised written notes of all four sources. (Annotation Rubric)

    EXTENSIONS

    Ideas for Key Assignments, Extensions, and Adaptations for Online Learning Environments:

    Teachers can record audio supports with summaries in other languages besides Spanish.  The text from the supporting summaries can be translated into whatever languages the teacher has in the classroom.

    This set of lessons can also be used for other primary sources.  The teacher would prepare the documents for note-taking and adapt the analysis questions to fit.

    Compare and contrast essays evaluating the four sources can be done as a more writing intensive extension.  The essay assignment would need to be supported with the same level of sentence frames and language supports as used throughout the unit.

    Students can design research around questions they still have from analyzing the documents.  This extension should encourage students to leverage their experiences and their questions.  This would also be an additional opportunity to continue to explore the concept of intersectionality, the concept that social categories such as race, class, and gender are interconnected and can create interdependent systems of discrimination. How does Mrs. O’Leary’s experience of being blamed for the fire because, as a member of an immigrant group, she was an easy target lead to topics for research meaningful to you as the student?