Understanding sources is key to developing evidence-based arguments in social studies. The Bookmark tool is designed to support students as they read, analyze and annotate sources. The Bookmark focuses students on the information that is most relevant to answering the compelling question for each investigation, promoting their comprehension and note-taking to capture their thinking about how evidence from the source can be used to support a claim and how reliable the source is. Later, as students weigh evidence across sources, their annotations help them identify relevant evidence for different possible claims. As they plan and compose their arguments, the annotations help them quote from the sources and reason about how the evidence they use supports the claims they make, and about the reliability of the source for answering the compelling question.
The Bookmark is divided into three sections:
- Top: Questions about the Headnote and Attribution for each source.These questions focus students on sourcing and contextualizing by asking who authored the source, when and where is was produced, what type of source it is, and why or for whom it was written. Answering these questions helps students situate the text in its context and consider how its genre, purpose, and audience has shaped it. Questions about the Headnote and Attribution help students think about what they will learn from the source before they read it, as well as begin to consider the reliability of the source. Students are asked to Think and Circle relevant text as they read the Headnote and Attribution.
- Middle: Questions about the source text itself. The questions here help students understand the meaning of each source in ways that are more concrete and accessible than asking for a summary of the main idea. We suggest using one question from the middle section of the bookmark per source. The slides and the Teacher Guide identify one key question from the list on the Bookmark for each source that is especially relevant for making sense of that particular source. Because the investigations draw on a wide range of source types and genres (personal narratives, news reports, visuals, graphs, laws, etc.), students need guidance in reading for the kind of information that each source can offer. For example, in reading more narrative texts, students can be asked to think about the people named in the text and their relationship to the author or other people in the text, or they can look for language in the text that tells them what the author or people in the text think, want, or experience. For informational texts, legal documents, and texts that present arguments, students can look for what follows transition words or phrases (defined as language at the beginning of a sentence that is not the subject of the sentence. Often these introductory phrases present transitions to important information or ideas.)
- Bottom & Back: Questions for reasoning about the evidence. At the bottom and back of the bookmark are questions that encourage students to think about the source's meaning and reliability. These questions focus on the source's meaning, the trustworthiness of the author/artist, what was going on in the context of the text's creation, and how evidence from this text compares with evidence from other texts; all of this discussed in relation to the compelling question that the students are trying to answer. Students are asked to write a sentence or two about what the source is saying, the reliability of the source, and how the source helps them think about the central question before moving on to the next source in each investigation. Our investigations include a box at the bottom of each source to prompt students to consider these questions.
Using the Bookmark helps students focus on the compelling central question and highlight parts of the source that provide the best information for responding to that question. Students annotate the source so that they can return to it later and easily find key information to help them build their arguments.
Each investigation includes a video of an expert modeling use of the bookmark with one of the investigation's sources. Teachers typically begin each new investigation with this model, stopping the video periodically so that students can practice. As students then work with other sources, different classroom participation structures are possible. To mentor students as they learn to use the Bookmark, it is helpful to work through more than one source with them, engaging them in interaction with each other in answering the questions about the Headnote/Attribution, then the source text, and finally about the source's reliability and connections to the central question.
Sources from Interpretation, Investigation #2 Annotated with The Bookmark