Evaluating Sources & Using Evidence

We recommend teachers employ the Reading Like a Historian (RLAH) approach to engaging students in historical inquiry and investigation.


The curriculum is available, from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), at:  https://sheg.stanford.edu. The following series of questions to be posed to students are adapted from the RLAH/SHEG curriculum.

Sourcing and Contextualization (Answer these questions before reading the document.) 

  • Who wrote this? 
  • Why was it written?
  • When and where was it written?
  • How might the circumstances in which the document was created affect its content

Close Reading

  • What claims does the author make? 
  • What evidence does the author use?


  • Do you think this document provides a trustworthy account of the historical events? 
  • Why or why not?

The following 2+ minute video clip is an analysis of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border from a “Progressive” perspective –

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, representing parts of the Bronx and Queens in New York City, recasts the border crisis as an immigration, climate, and trade crisis rooted in a history of American imperialism.


The following less-than-2-minute video clip is an analysis of the border crisis from a “conservative” perspective – U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, representing Bakersfield, and the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader,  casts the situation at the border as a crisis brought on by President Biden’s administration throwing open the border and doing nothing to prevent thousands of migrants from coming in.


Additional Activity

  • If either U.S. Representative above was visiting your classroom having made the remarks above, what questions would you ask the person?
  • To what extent would you agree with what the person said?
  • To what extent would you disagree with what the person said?