This lesson was shared in March/April 2009
Lesson Plan: Understanding Purpose in Sources – TANG DYNASTY
Demonstration of Student Outcomes
Essential Questions
Materials & Resources
Techology use in T&L
Lesson Hook
(10 min)
1. Students are given 3 sources with identical content. However, the author, audience, message and impact of the 3 sources differ.
2. As a class, they are to identify the author, audience, message and impact of the 3 sources respectively.
3. Students are to deduce that the purpose of the sources can be affected by any one of these factors, even though the content of the sources may be identical.
- Critical Thinking
- Communication
- How do the personal interests of the author affect how the source is written?
- How do we infer who is the intended audience of the source?
- What are the different types/ kinds of impact?
Worksheet on NDP

Using Twitter, students share their opinions and ideas on the purpose of historical sources/evidence. This will facilitate the discussion on the importance of identifying the author, audience, message and impact in sources, generically.
The choice of Twitter is intended to challenge students to be concise in their inferences of the sources. As this is only a brainstorming session to unveil the lesson, the 140-character limit of Twitter lends itself naturally in eliciting opinions from the class efficiently.
(From this sharing, the teacher can very quickly decide on the pace of the lesson, based on the extent of prior knowledge students have on the topic.)

In groups, students can present their discussion on a spreadsheet on Google Doc, to clearly identify the author, audience, impact and message of the sources. The choice of using an online spreadsheet is to allow all 5 groups to provide their inputs in a synchronized fashion, and also being able to view what the other groups have contributed at the same time.

The collated inputs in each category will allow the class to discuss any differences they may have in their analysis of the sources.
Main Lesson
(40 min)
1. The teacher will conduct a formal lecture, teaching students how to identify the PURPOSE of a historical source.
2. Students will be divided into groups. In their groups, they will create 2 historical sources based on the Tang Dynasty Formative Assessment (FA).
3. Students are to bear in mind the checklist when they create the 2 historical sources in the FA.
4. Students get to apply the principles on identifying the Purpose in historical sources when they do the FA.
- Creativity
- Collaborative Skills

Understanding PURPOSE in Sources.pdf

Tang Dynasty Formative Assessment.pdf
The 2 historical sources for the FA can be presented using Blogger by each of the groups. For all 5 groups, there will be 2 activity blogs - one for the Emperor and one for the diary.

By putting write-ups of the same purpose on the same blog, the discussion can be furthered by getting students to compare the difference in perspectives, since all the write-ups are targeted at the same audience.
This clearly highlights the idea of how the study of History is really about examining the same source from different points of view.

Possible extensions of the task could see the making of end products like podcasts and digital posters by the respective groups. These could be embedded in students' blogs/wikis subsequently.
Closure and Summary of Lesson Takeaways
(10 min)
1. 3-4 groups to present their self-created sources to the class.
2. Teacher facilitates students' reflections on how sources can be evaluated in determining their purpose/ reliability/ usefulness.
3. Teacher recaps the checklist which students can use to help them identify the purpose of a historical source.
- Communication
- Critical Thinking
- Intellectual Curiosity
- Do all historical sources carry a PURPOSE?
- Is the content of the source alone sufficient for us to infer its PURPOSE?
- How does the PURPOSE of a source affect its reliability and usefulness?

By using the checklist, students then comment on their classmates' works, evaluating the purpose/reliability/usefulness of these sources.
After reviewing the feedback given by their classmates, the groups will then work on their entries again. The edited entries should more explicitly illustrate the features/principles on how the purpose in historical sources are to be identified.