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The Skill of Historical Sourcing

Sourcing and history are an essential pairing, much like peanut butter and jelly. Use these engaging lessons on the Roman Empire, the Mongols, and the Black Death to teach your students the skill of historical sourcing.

Primary Sources Lesson Plan

Without sources, historians would be out of a job! So how do we teach this important skill to students? And how do we get students to source effectively and efficiently? In these three lessons, students will be introduced to the historical thinking practice of sourcing. Use one lesson or use all three!

Introduction: The Skill of Historical Sourcing
In this introductory lesson, students will evaluate a fictional scenario and become familiar with a sourcing tool that will help them decode historical documents.
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The Roman Empire: Determining if a Source Is Reliable
This lesson provides an opportunity to learn about the Roman Empire through historical excerpts. Should we consider the words of the Roman Emperor Augustus a credible, reliable source?
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Historical Sourcing: Quick Sourcing with the Mongols and the Black Death
Students explore the engaging topics of the Mongols and the Black Death, using—you guessed it—their sourcing skills.
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Historical Sourcing: Teacher Resources

Sourcing in World History Project
All WHP courses contain a Sourcing Practice Progression and quick-sourcing activities. Find locations and links to all of them here!
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Sourcing Instructional Support
Teaching sourcing can be challenging. Check out this video that offers advice, strategies, and practical tips.
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Primary Source Collections
OER Project offers more than 30 source collections, spanning a range of time periods and topics. Check them all out in this handy list!
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Take a closer look

Supporting materials or full lesson? We’ve got you covered.

Want more sourcing activities and primary source collections that span thousands of years? Maybe you want to learn more about ancient empires and the spread of belief systems, or sources that explore an eighteenth-century inoculation debate or political revolutions. Or maybe you require something a bit more modern like sources on the Cold War. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Register for free to access our middle- and high-school courses.


OER Project courses and lessons create curious, creative, and connected students. Our free, online resources are designed to support teachers and power amazing classrooms. Explore more of our lesson plans on a variety of topics in social studies!

Continuity and Change Over Time (CCOT)
What’s changed? And what’s stayed the same? Build your students’ skills with our best resources for teaching CCOT as they learn to recognize factors that transformed how people lived and continue to live today.
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The Columbian Exchange
Explore a critical turning point in global history as your students learn how new routes of exchange and the interconnection of previously isolated continents changed the world forever.
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The Agricultural Revolution
A good idea? Or terrible mistake? Students learn why humans pivoted to farming and the related consequences for our world through activities that are designed to spark classroom debate.
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Enjoying the Sourcing Lesson Plan? We have more where that came from.

OER Project courses and lessons create curious, creative, and connected students. Our free, online resources are designed to support teachers and power amazing classrooms. Join our active community of educators to learn more.
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