Primary Source Assessments: Evaluating Student Learning from TPS Titanic Lessons

If you choose to teach either or both of the Titanic lessons from the Library's Teachers resource (see the annoted links page), here are two possibilities to assess your students’ learning at the end of the activity.

Assess Historical Thinking: Sequencing, Chronology

Choose a selection of primary sources about the Titanic and either put them on a table for the students to access, or make several primary source sets to hand out to the students (we have included PDFs of primary sources for you).  If you want to measure individual learning, have each student complete this exercise.  You could also put the students into small groups and have them work together.

If you haven’t already used the Primary Source Analysis Tool or if you want to familiarize your students with its use again, you could include the Analyzing Prints and Photographs Teacher’s Tool and the the Primary Source Analysis Tool for students.

Ask your students to arrange the primary sources in chronological order, writing a brief explanation of the reason for each choice in their sequence.  Furnishing a simple table or graphic organizer to go with this assignment will help the students organize their assignment, and one such table is included with this packet (Assessment 1).  You can measure their understanding by the order of their primary sources and the reasoning the students provide.  Supplying your class with a rubric beforehand ensures that the students will better understand the assignment, its expectations, and make your grading of the results easier.

Assess Comprehension: Connecting, Matching

Another possible assessment from the Library’s Titanic lesson would again include the primary source photos from our packet.       

The Library’s Titanic lesson from the Teachers' Page focuses on a number of newspaper accounts of the Titanic disaster from the Chronicling America collection.  At the conclusion of teaching that lesson, you can again choose to measure individual or small-group learning.  Hand out or place on a table your selection of items from the packet of primary sources, not including any of the newspaper accounts.  Have the students match the photos to the newspaper accounts from the lesson and write a short reason for their selection. 

Again, a graphic organizer would be useful, and we have provided one that might work for you (Assessment 2).  As in the first assessment, supplying your class with a rubric beforehand ensures that the students will better understand the assignment, its expectations, and make your grading of the results easier.