Finding American Symbols activitySee activities created with the Zoom/Crop tool.Shift the focus on a document from one part to another, from a part to the whole, or from the whole to a specific part. Guide students as they analyze and use context to form hypotheses.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn and practice document analysis techniques
  • Use context clues to form hypotheses
  • Use primary sources as historical evidence

To create a Zoom/Crop activity:

  1. Go to My Activities and create a new activity.
  2. Choose a document. You can pull in all pages of a document, or only the specific page you will use. Decide whether students will be able to access all of the details available for the document (including dates and descriptions), simply the document images and titles, or nothing beyond what they can see displayed in the activity.
  3. Choose the view of the document for the start of the activity, and then for the end. Add optional questions, directions or text for discussion.
  4. Write instructions for your students, including an introduction and conclusion. You can include questions or a follow-up assignment in your conclusion. Students can email their responses to you if desired.
  5. Preview the student activity and create a snapshot.
  6. Lastly, describe your activity to other teachers by providing a summary. Tag it with the appropriate historical era, historical thinking skill, level of Bloom's Taxonomy, and grade level. You can also include detailed teaching instructions.

Teaching Tips

  • Model document analysis. Whether document analysis is the focus of the activity or not, work with students to pull apart the document to better understand it.
  • Begin the activity focused on one part of a document and ask students to pay close attention to the details to try to determine the document’s significance. Switch the view to another part of the document, or the whole document, asking students to rethink their hypotheses based on new evidence.
  • Go from more of a document to less, or shift the view from one part to another, to focus student attention on particular details.
  • Younger students can learn basic document analysis. For students in secondary grades, choose documents that require more extensive analysis and contextualization, or even further research, to practice higher-order thinking skills.

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