Ages: 16-18

  • British Columbia History
  • Canadian History
  • British North American Colonial History
Key Topics
  • Daily life in the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island around 1858
  • Important events in the historical development of British Columbia
  • Primary and secondary source analysis including visual sources
  • Continuity and change in history

Author: Lindsay Gibson
Editors: Roland Case, John Lutz and Jenny Clayton
Historical Researcher: Jenny Clayton
Developed by: The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2)

Daily Life in Victoria before and after the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush

Step 3: Introduce the tools for text analysis

Remind students that they have already learned to draw inferences about daily life based on observations of a visual source. They will now practice analyzing text documents. Distribute a copy of the document, #7 Sample Text Document, to each student or simply project the text on a screen for the entire class to read. As a class, briefly discuss what students make of the document.

After a short while, distribute a copy of the activity sheet, #8 Reading Around a Document, to each student (or pair of students). Explain that these six questions help to develop an overall sense of a document before actually analyzing its contents. Re-read the document as a class and invite students to offer their response and evidence for each question. Draw attention to the fact that students are being asked to note details from the text (find evidence) to support a response that may involve drawing inferences. Discuss their answers as a class.

Explain to students that when analyzing documents (textual and visual) they are to make sure that their observations are accurate and relevant and that their inferences are plausible and imaginative (not completely obvious). Inform students that these criteria will be used to evaluate the quality of their observations and inferences.

  • accurate and relevant observations: offers many observations that accurately describe the details in the image and text that are relevant to the specified theme(s);
  • plausible and imaginative inferences: offers varied inferences that go beyond the very obvious conclusions, and are supported by details from the image, text or based on other known facts about the topic.

Invite students to draw upon what they already know about the topic featured in the text to help reach plausible conclusions. If the evidence for their conclusion is weak, encourage students to be tentative in stating their inferences. Ask that they qualify their conclusions, using terms such as “may be,” “possibly,” and “perhaps.” Also, encourage students when in doubt about particular details in the image to use terms such as “it looks like” or “it may be.”

After reading around the document, ask students to use the text as a source of information about daily life in Victoria. Distribute a copy of the activity sheet, #2 Portrait of Daily Life, to each pair of students for them to record observations and inferences about various aspects of daily life.

Before embarking on the activity, review with students the rubric, #4 Assessing Observations and Inferences. If desired, after completion of the activity arrange for students to assess their own or each others’ observations and conclusions.

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