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Reconstruction Era Essay

Resources for Zarnesky's ECHS History Class Project

Historical Thinking

group of question marks within speech bubblesThink about Context:

  • How might the circumstances in which the document was created affect its content?
  • What was different then? What was the same?

Compare and Corroborate:

  • What do other documents or people say?
  • Do they agree? If not, why?
  • What documents are most reliable?

Close Reading:

  • What claims does the author make?
  • What evidence does the author use?
  • How does the document's language (words) show the author's perspective?

Adapted from the Historical Thinking Chart by the Stanford History Education Group


EvaluateUse the 5 W's:

  • Who: ...wrote it? Are they an expert?
  • What: the purpose of this resource?
  • Where: ...was this information published? ...does the information come from?
  • When: ...was this published or last updated?
  • Why: this resource useful? this resource better than other ones?

Learn more!

The Evaluating Information guide covers lateral reading, fact-checking, how to Google like a pro, and more.

SIFT - Source Evaluation Method

SIFT: Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Better Coverage, Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to the Original Context

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfield. All SIFT information on this page is adapted from his materials with a CC BY 4.0 license.

Determining if resources are credible is challenging. Use the SIFT method to help you analyze information, especially news or other online media.

Remember, you can always Ask a Librarian for help with evaluating information.

S = Stop

Before you read the article, stop!

Before you share the video, stop!

Before you act on a strong emotional response to a headline, stop!

Ask yourself: Do I know this website? Do I know this information source? Do I know it's reputation?

Before moving forward, use the other three moves: 

  1. Investigate the Source
  2. Find Better Coverage
  3. Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media back to the Original Context

I = Investigate the Source

  • Use Google or Wikipedia to investigate a news organization or other resource.

F = Find Better Coverage

  • Look and see what other coverage is available on the same topic
  • Keep track of trusted sources
  • Use fact-checking sites

T = Trace Claims, Quotes, etc. to the Original Context

  • Click through to follow links to claims
  • Open up the original reporting sources listed in a bibliography if present
  • Look at the original context. Was the claim, quote, or media fairly represented?