Global Studies Primary Source Analysis Essay Prompt: Hobbes v. Locke

Global Studies Primary Source Analysis Essay Prompt: Hobbes v. Locke
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Global Studies Primary Source Analysis Essay Prompt: Hobbes v. Locke

This product is a primary source essay prompt for Global Studies 9 or 10 entitled "Hobbes vs. Locke" (NYS SS Frameworks 9.9e). The primary source essay is a reading and writing task that has come to form an important cornerstone in my topic unit plan. This task was created to reflect the Common Core State Standards and it is aligned to the New York State Social Studies Frameworks. (Though this is a task for Framework topic 9.9, I teach this in the first unit of Global 10.) This is the primary source analysis task referred to in my Global 9 and Global 10 curriculum outlines (also for sale at this site).

This product includes:
1. The cover sheet
2. The primary source text
3. The grading rubric
4. An audio file to assist with comprehension
5. video showing how to install a writing prompt at, a suite of assessment apps

The task takes two traditional-length class periods, three if you do a debriefing class afterwards to review the essay responses. Students read a lengthy primary source document (usually 3-4 pages, double-spaced). They mark up the text as they read and as I place great importance on this markup, the page is formatted with large margins and line numbers. These documents are nearly always miles above the high schooler's reading level, so I provide an optional audio of the source in which I read it aloud and pause every so often to explain the text's meaning. This permits students to go about this at their own pace and rewind where necessary. I resist translating these to lower level English because then the source loses some of its "primary" flavor.

Typically, I post the assignment and the audio at my content management system at There is a really excellent writing assessment app there. I track student scores using a progress monitoring system and score their work on the rubric at the site.

The cover sheet provided gives detailed source information. I expect students to read this and consider it when writing the paragraph on reliability in their analysis. During the debriefing that follows the assignment, we talk about where I got the source and how I may have altered it for the task. These conversations can get very interesting as students often go searching on their own for originals.

The cover sheet also gives details such as the historical context, the assignment itself, the NYS Social Studies Frameworks reference, and the new level 4 performance level descriptors for evidence-centered design.

The assignment is always the same:
Mark up the text as you read and analyze.
Paragraph 1: State the type of source and its purpose. State who the audience was and reflect on how they were expected to react.
Paragraph 2: Historical context: describe the historical events and related information associated with this source. (Usually 60-70 words)
Paragraph 3: Compose a summary of the source's content.
Paragraph 4:  Discuss 3-4 factors affecting the reliability of this source. (audience, purpose content, point of view/bias, time and place, format, authorship). Identify the biases you personally bring to the examination of a source.
Cite line numbers from text supporting your analysis where possible / appropriate.
Total Pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
3 days
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