Annotate, Narrate, and Recreate Primary Documents


Lesson Overview                                                                                                            

This lesson is actually 3 lessons that can be used in any unit, era, or theme.  Allow students to add observations, questions and narration directly to digital documents and share them without printing. They make use of web applications that are free and easy to use.  Offline options are included.  Given the fickle nature of web tools please contact me via twitter for alternatives, if say one of the sites closes or stops working.


Lesson Author


Chris Raymond


Marion High School




Lesson Audience

Grade Level


# of Class Periods



American History

Length of Period



Objectives                                                                                                               Back to Navigation Bar

Student will:

  1. If all 3 are done in class they will be engaged in all 5 standards from the National Center for History in the schools at UCLA


Materials                                                                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar


  1. Digital Camera (Recreate)
  2. Computer with internet (all)
  3. Students will need email addresses for the “annotate” and “narrate” lessons.
  4. Teacher will need to choose a method for collecting, sharing, or displaying student work.

Online Resources (hyperlink)

  1. http://www.nchs.ucla.edu/Standards/historical-thinking-standards-1
  2. www.blabberize.com
  3. www.thinglink.com
  4. www.voicethread.com
  5. nara.gov

Handouts (Handouts embedded in Appendix)

  1. AnnotateHistoryTemplate.doc
  2. NarrateHistoryTemplate.doc
  3. Recreate-UpdateHistoryTemplate.doc


Classroom Procedures                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar

Prior Learning (background information, vocabulary)

The student will need to know:

  1. These lessons assume that students know what primary sources are and how to find them.

Annotate Overview:

The “Annotate” lessons use online tools (thinglink, voicethread) to share their observations and questions about a source online without printing in a more interactive and social format than can be done on paper.  Students have 2 options; one where they can add popup windows to documents and one where they can add text, voice, or drawings to documents. The details and extension an extension activity can be found in the handout.

Offline: Could be done with printed copies of documents.

Narrate Overview:

The “Narrate” lessons use an online tool (Blabberize) to allow students to literally give voice to people from the past.  They have 2 options; give voice to a single individual and write a monologue or soliloquy for them or give voice to 2 people and create a dialogue between them. The details and extension an extension activity can be found in the handout.

Offline: could be done live in front of the class with a projected image.


The “Recreate” lesson allows students to take a written account or a photo and recreate it on camera to be shared with the class.  This lesson is very interactive and introspective. Warning: schools have varied policies on sharing images of students so you may want to check this out before proceeding. The details and extension an extension activity can be found in the handout.

Offline: It could be done live in front of the class.

Sharing/Collecting Student Work:

1.     Post to class website (Google Sites- blog template or file cabinet)

2.     Post to a class blog (blogger or wordpress)

3.     Email- more work for you to gather and organize, but easy for students

4.     Post to class wiki (wikispaces, pbworks)

5.     Collect links using a survey (Google forms, survey monkey)


Extension                                                                                    Back to Navigation Bar

1.     The lessons could be combined by have students post the original, their recreation, a modern analogue to the individual on voicethread and annotating everything.

2.     Extra credit could be given for sharing their work on social networks and having a certain number of people comment on them including their parents.


Evaluation                                                                                                              Back to Navigation Bar



Scoring guides are included with each interactive lesson.