K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • use the provided guided reading questions to analyse a primary source document.
  • be able to explain why it is or is not valuable to the state to require students to attend school until at least the age of sixteen.

Teacher planning

Teacher background

The teacher can use this lesson as a reinforcement tool for students learning their legal duties as citizens versus their civic responsibilities. One of the five legal duties is to attend public school, in most states, until age 16. This lesson serves as an activity to reflect on the historical development of public education in North Carolina by using a primary source from 1869. The selections from the primary source serve as good prompts for questions, essays, and class discussions about the listed objectives. Finally, the discussions regarding public education issues in 1869 can be linked to current events in public education locally, statewide, or nationally, such as local efforts to pass bonds to support the building of new facilities.

Time required for lesson

30-45 minutes


  • Copies of the Annual Report of the Superintendent Guided Reading
  • activity — one per student
  • Pencils/pens

Students should either have computers with internet access or a copy of the selected pages from the primary source. In addition, students should have a copy of the guided reading.

Technology resources


Annual report of the superintendent guided reading
Students use the questions in this handout to guide them through their reading of the superintendent’s report from 1869.
Open as PDF (14 KB, 2 pages)


Prior knowledge

Teacher should have taught the lessons on legal duties versus civic responsibilities. Students must know that attending school until age sixteen, in most states, is a legal duty.


  1. To introduce the lesson, ask the students if they know who the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is and what his or her job entails
  2. Remind students of their legal duty to attend school.
  3. Next, teacher should project the cover of the primary source onto screen, introducing the report. The purpose of examining this document is to obtain a glimpse into schools of the past.
  4. Model how to read and analyze a primary source document by discussing the following:
    1. Date of document.
    2. Who is the intended audience?
    3. Who is it from?
    4. What is it?
  5. Next, explain the Annual Report of the Superintendent Guided Reading
    activity to the students. Provide students with access to the document — either hard copy or electronically. Next, do one of the following:

    1. Provide students time to work on the guided reading handout and collect the answers when they are finished. This can be either a class work or homework assignment, and it can be completed individually or in teams.
    2. Use the guided reading as a tool to facilitate class discussion as you review the document with the class and model how to analyze a primary source document.
  6. Finally, conduct a whole-class discussion about what the students learned while answering questions about this primary source document. Ask them to explain why it is or is not valuable to the state to require students to attend school until at least the age of sixteen.


You may assess students’ answers to the guided reading activity for accuracy and completion.


Inspiration for this lesson comes from the numerous complaints students make about the duty to attend school. Hopefully, this will help them to value their opportunity.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 11-12
          • 11-12.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
        • Grades 9-10
          • 9-10.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Civics and Economics

        • CE.C&G.4 Understand how democracy depends upon the active participation of citizens. CE.C&G.4.1 Compare citizenship in the American constitutional democracy to membership in other types of governments (e.g., right to privacy, civil rights, responsibilities,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 10

  • Goal 4: The learner will explore active roles as a citizen at the local, state, and national levels of government.
    • Objective 4.08: Participate in civic life, politics, and/or government.
  • Goal 10: The learner will develop, defend, and evaluate positions on issues regarding the personal responsibilities of citizens in the American constitutional democracy.
    • Objective 10.01: Explain the distinction between personal and civic responsibilities and the tensions that may arise between them.
    • Objective 10.03: Evaluate the importance of supporting, nurturing, and educating oneself in the United States society.