I find that a lot of my students are having difficulty, especially with their source analysis assignments.
What is a source analysis assignment?
It is creating a written response to a primary source image or text. Usually, for a longer assignment, there are three primary sources that you must write about in an essay format. (Introduction, Body Paragraphs about each source, Conclusion)
Step 1: Look at the picture or text. Take notes of the answers to these questions for each source separately.
What do you see? What is ACTUALLY in the image? BE SPECIFIC!! If there is a ring on the woman’s hand, is it on the ring/wedding finger?
Who is in the image? Is it a famous person? What kind of people: ages, genders, relationship to others in the source, ethnicity, etc?
Where/When: What time period is the source from- be specific: year/era, what point in the war? Can you tell if it is supposed to be for a specific country/nation? Explain the setting shown in the picture.
Why was this source created? What is the purpose of this source? Was it propaganda- for whom, or against whom? Why does this source matter in its own time period? Do you think it was successful based on the impact it may have had in its own time period? Who would agree with the message, who would disagree? Does it do its job well- is the message clear?
IF THE SOURCE IS A QUOTE OR PASSAGE OF TEXT: keep those questions in mind and write notes about the text. Also, highlight any KEY WORDS you think are important to include or interpret in your own words within your response.
** REMEMBER TO LINK EVERYTHING BACK TO THE THEME OF THE COURSE**
What does that actually mean? Think back to the key vocabulary from the unit or course and use it!
Step 2: If you are NOT going to have an introduction and conclusion paragraph, make sure you have a thesis (a position about the sources in relation to the unit/course)
THESIS: Your thesis is what has your opinion, or the argument you are trying to prove. Pick a position and stick with it. No wishy-washy statements about how the source(s) both promote and discourage the theme. Pick a side. You can discuss how one source does a better job than the other, but you still must pick a side.
Step 3: Turn notes into intelligent sentences. Each source’s response should be about a paragraph in style. That does NOT mean that it is only five sentences long. It can definitely be longer than five sentences. But, make sure you are not just repeating or rephrasing yourself. Do this for each source, which will become your main body paragraphs of the essay. Most responses will have a paragraph for each source and one extra for the relationship between the sources.
Communication/Writing Mechanics: I should hope it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways; use academic writing style and notations. That means no contractions (no “can’t”, “won’t”, “I’ve”, etc).
Marking/Grading: Also, go back to the grading rubric. If there are 4 points to be earned for the Identification of Relationships, make sure you have four clear and separate points made in your assignment.
If you would like more specific instructions for the Alberta curriculum, please see my next post here.