Sample Responses

Why do Reisman and Wineburg call text complexity an instructional dilemma?

The dilemma is that while students should deal with texts that are complex both linguistically and intellectually, if they spend all of their time dealing with comprehending the challenging language, they will not have the resources to try to understand and analyze what the author means or how that information connects to their other knowledge. So the dilemma is how to help the students accomplish the second without getting bogged down by the first.

What are Reisman and Wineburg's suggestions for dealing with this instructional dilemma?

They offer three suggestions for helping students analyze the important aspects of primary sources. 1) pose a historical question to frame instruction and guide students' close reading and analysis of the primary source, 2) provide a carefully modified document that preserves the author's intent and language as much as possible alongside the original document to approximate students' reading levels, and 3) provide students with ample practice to read and analyze historical documents so they become more adept at managing more and more complex text.