Social Studies Level Up

Preparing for Ohio's State Tests Weekly Bulletin

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Preparing for Ohio's State Tests: Week 4

This is the fourth of seven weekly newsletters dedicated to helping teachers prepare students for Ohio's State Tests in American History and American Government. Each newsletter will feature one of seven identified best practices in teaching for mastery, and highlight some of the available resources.

Note: The practices outlined in this newsletter series are designed to increase standards mastery. They are useful in all courses, not just state-tested courses. While some direct test practice is necessary, the primary emphasis should be unpacking standards in meaningful and rigorous ways. Check out the article, "Beware the Test Prep Trap" by Jay McTighe for more information.


Social Studies Level Up Goals

  • Increase passage rates on Ohio's State Test in American History from 50% to 65%.
  • increase passage rates on Ohio's State Test in American Government from 59% to 70%.


Best Practice 4: Source Analysis

Key Points of Source Analysis

  • Source analysis involves close reading, interpreting, and evaluating primary and secondary sources in history and government.
  • The use of primary and secondary sources of includes an examination of the credibility of each source.
  • Historians develop theses and use evidence from sources to support or refute positions.
  • Use short excerpts from sources to create Evidence-Based Sets (similar to DBQs). Have students respond to text-dependent questions, identify or create thesis statements from the texts, and cite supporting evidence.


Social Studies Teaching & Learning Strategies Page

The Social Studies Teaching & Learning Strategies web page includes 10 strategies for Social Studies Skills and Primary Source Analysis:

Each entry includes a short description with a link to a full description and/or resource materials.


Anchor Charts/Reference Sheets for Source Analysis and Evidence-Based Writing

Download PDF files of these anchor charts/reference sheets to scaffold source analysis and evidence-based writing:


Evidence-Based Sets in Edulastic

On Ohio's State Tests, an Evidence-Based Set is a group of several questions associated to one or more common stimuli. Evidence-based sets allow students to work with primary source materials to show deep understanding of social studies topics. The questions in these sets assess a range of skills and content in the content statements.

In addition to the sets available in the released test items, sample Evidence-Based Sets are available in Edulastic.


Accessing Primary Source Banks to Create Evidence-Based Sets

Teachers can use and adapt sources from available collections to create their own Evidence-Based Sets and DBQs. The following websites have extensive collections of sources organized by era/topic:


DocsTeach Historical Thinking Activities

CCS Social Studies has created primary source interactive exercises using the DocsTeach tool from the National Archives. These exercises provide students with an opportunity to examine primary sources (documents, photographs, political cartoons) and construct an evidence-based arguments on compelling questions.

Quick Activities are best suited for class warm-ups, exit tickets, or station rotation. They can be completed in about 10-15 minutes. Extended Exercises are designed for a full class period with 1:1 chromebooks or in a computer lab, or as homework extensions.

American History

Quick Activities

Extended Exercises

American Government

Quick Activities

Extended Exercises

DocsTeach also includes an extensive database of additional activities that may be useful in meeting Ohio's Learning Standards. And, if you are really ambitious, you can create your own activities and send us the link!


Beyond the Bubble: History Assessments of Thinking (HATS)

Created by the Stanford History Education Group, Beyond the Bubble unlocks the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress to create History Assessments of Thinking (HATs). Explore over 80 easy-to-use assessments that measure students' historical thinking rather than recall of facts.

Assessments emphasize the historical thinking skills of:

  • Sourcing;

  • Contextualization;

  • Corroboration;

  • Background Knowledge;

  • Use of Evidence; and

  • Periodization.

Click here to access the full collection of HATs.


Matthew I. Doran

Secondary Social Studies Specialist

Office of Teaching & Learning

Curriculum Division

Southland Center

3700 S. High Street

Suite 125