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At this point, we know that much of the EOCA in Civics (and US History) requires students to be able to read, use, and interpret primary sources. As such, it is important to ensure that our kids have the opportunity to get their hands on these documents so that they can actually use them in ways which encourage understanding and analysis. But how do we ensure that as many of our students as possible actually have access points to these readings?
Sam Wineburg and Daisy Martin, of the Stanford History Education Group, have put forward a pedagogical approach which they have termed ‘Tampering with History’. This approach involves the careful use of a document in such a way that students are able to negotiate the text without too much trouble. By ‘tampering’ then, we mean adapting the text into a more student-friendly version. In addition to ensuring that you are selecting only relevant elements of the text, this might include using larger fonts, modifying spelling, punctuation, or grammar, signaling key words within the text, expanding the white space, or other adaptations that make it easier to understand. This approach can be especially useful at the start of the year, when students may be exposed to primary sources for the first time. For a step by step breakdown and walk through of the model, check out TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s page, Adapting Documents for the Classroom: Equity and Access. 

Our own Dr. Elizabeth Washington, Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Florida and a Senior Fellow here at the FJCC, has done a great deal of work with the ‘Tampering With History’ model as well. During a recent professional development in Clay County, she worked with a room full of teachers on this approach, modeling for them how to ‘tamper’ with the documents and giving them an opportunity to collaborate on developing a lesson and modifying a document with this approach. Recently, one of the participants in this PD, Jami Shimer of Lake Asbury Junior High, shared with us her ‘tampered’ version of the US Constitution’s Article III!

'Tampered' version of Article III

‘Tampered’ version of Article III

Notice in the first page here that she explains what the source is, where it comes from, and WHY they are reading it. Explaining the ‘why’ is one of the most important pieces of the ‘tampering’ model. Notice as well how she has modified the text to make it easier to read for her students.

Vocabulary Explanation for Tampered Article III

Vocabulary Explanation for Tampered Article III

On this page, she has provided students with a legend for vocabulary terms of relevance. Note that this isn’t intended to simply define difficult terms. Rather, it is focusing on terms relevant to the question that was posed!

Original Version of Article III

Original Version of Article III

Including the original version of the ‘tampered’ document does a couple of things. First, it allows students to compare the original to the modified version. Second, you may choose to have your higher level readers use the original version of the document rather than the ‘tampered’ version. This is an easy way to differentiate for your kids without reducing content or expectations!

Thanks to Ms. Shimer for sharing this with us, and we look forward to hearing how it went! If you want a copy of this ‘tampered’ document, you can download it here: Tampered Article III.

Please let us know if you have a teaching model that you would like to share, and if you use this one, tell us how it goes!