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A Tool for Students and Teachers

Teaching with Primary Sources Inquiry Kits are designed with teachers and students in mind. Primary source analysis has become more and more important as students are tested on their ability to close read non-fiction texts. It can be hard to work with primary sources in many classrooms, though. Many sources are not accessible, whether because of illegible text, high reading level, or simply a lack of interest on the part of students.

What are Inquiry Kits?

Inquiry Kits are organized to correspond with units in United States History classes. Each topic is relevant to the curriculum, yet also appealing to students. An Inquiry Kit has five primary sources, mostly from the Library of Congress, and one secondary source. Many of the primary sources are images, maps, audio, or video to support accessibility by students of any reading level. When available, text-based sources have transcriptions, translations, or read-aloud functions to eliminate as many barriers to comprehension as possible. Once students learn the process of document analysis, teachers can provide scaffolding that helps them analyze increasingly challenging documents.

How to Use Inquiry Kits

Each kit includes three thinking questions to help guide students as they analyze the documents. Ideally, students will use the kits are a starting point for project based learning. With a curated selection of documents to work with, students can create exhibits, performances, documentaries, websites, or papers. Many students may use the kits as a starting point for further research.

Teachers might choose to simply use one document and one question as a warm up at the beginning of class. You could also use all five sources as primary sources set, and even arrange them into a gallery walk.

National History Day logoStudents who create projects based on Inquiry Kit documents are invited to enter them in local History Day contests. Click the link below to find National History Day local program contact information.

National History Day Affiliates

Rate the Inquiry Kits

Please help us improve the Inquiry Kit website by filling out our teacher survey. Click the link below to access the survey.

Teaching With Primary Sources: Inquiry Kits Teacher Survey

Additional Resources

The Inquiry Kits website contains Research Learning Modules to teach document analysis and research skills. Students can work through the four interactive lessons on their own or as a class.

The following list includes many more resources available to teachers using document analysis and project-based learning in their classroom.