I met Wiley Popovitch at the NCSS conference several weeks ago and shared a handy, dandy primary graphic organizer with me that I hadn’t heard of before. Wiley teaches middle school in Arizona and says his kids use it a lot while working with primary sources.

I like it too and figured I would pass it along.

It’s called SOAP.

SOAP stands for Source / Occasion / Audience / Purpose and was developed by Tommy Boyle at the University of Texas, El Paso to help integrate language arts and social studies. It seems like a pretty simple way to help kids remember to ask the right sorts of questions while messing with primary documents.

  • S = What kind of source is this? (Picture, political cartoon, newspaper article, letter, etc)
  • O = What’s the occasion? (What is happening in the primary source?)
  • A = Who is the audience? (Who do you think was intended to see this, if anyone?)
  • P = What is the purpose of the document? (What was the creator’s purpose in making this primary source?  Why was it created?)

For high school kids, you may want to pump it up a bit to SOAPStone:

  • S  = What is the subject of the document? (What is the general topic and/or main idea conveyed?)
  • T = What is the tone? (What is the attitude of the document’s creator?)
  • What questions does this document create for you?

Have fun!

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