Research Lesson Using Primary Sources

Research with Primary Sources

Lesson Plan

Librarian- Brenda Cowe

Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts

Students regularly use, and are familiar with using secondary sources for research purposes, however, they are not as familiar with the in-depth reading and analysis that is required for use of primary sources in research. For this short research project, students will study the history behind the Star Spangled Banner flag, song, and the words, using primary source material. The issues of the War of 1812, changes in music production and the use of songs as dissemination will be the major focal points discussed. The use of primary source accounts, original manuscripts, original or historic scores, broadsides and possible recordings, will facilitate deeper student understanding and analysis of the role of the Star Spangled Banner in the life of Americans and our society.
Essential Questions:
What is a primary source?
What are some things we can learn from primary sources?
How do primary sources differ from secondary sources?
Why do we preserve primary sources?
Overall Learning Objectives:

  • Students understand the who, what, where and why of the the writing of the SSB.
  • Students know the basic historical context of the writing of the SSB.
  • Students understand how anthems function in society.
  • Students know how to examine aspects of a primary source.
  • Students are able to incorporate information from a primary source into a new creative product.
  • Students are able to work together to create new creative work for performance.
  • Students are able to locate and analyze historical resources.

primary source
secondary source
Time Frame/Location: 
2-3 days for research/library media center computer lab
Direct instruction (librarian/teacher): Overview of the topic, purpose, objectives, research process and the electronic resources to be used.
Small group: students will work in small groups (selected by classroom teacher) to find, access, and examine select primary sources. Complete graphic organizers that assist with analysis of sources.
Whole Class: small groups report back to the whole class on their findings. Discussion of deepened knowledge of key areas of historic significance.
Students will complete a performance based on their research, they will participate fully in class discussions based on their research, and they will complete a brief reflection paper after the completion of the festival performances to assess their own participation, learning and performance.

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