Document Analysis

Analyzing the Text
General Activity
Grades 6–12
Language Arts, History, Science
Individual, Small Group, Ongoing


  • Students will expand their abilities to read, interpret, and critically analyze text.


Analyzing documents of any kind is a skill that will aid students in multiple subject areas. This is an ongoing skill to develop and strengthen. Key to success is repetition of the process. Students will move slowly at first, but with practice it will become second nature.

This process can be adapted and adjusted based on student abilities and on the type of document being analyzed.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Student copy of the procedures (see below)
  • A list of takeaways for the text being analyzed
  • Modeling the process

Estimated Time

15 – 45 minutes (depending on difficulty of the text)


The outline below is to be used when a document analysis is assigned.

  • What kind of document is this?
  • ~Primary or secondary?
  • ~Letter, speech, diary entry, newspaper article, academic article, legal document, song, poem, novel, etc.
  • When was this document created?
  • Who created this document?
  • Why was this document created? Is there any bias to this document?
  • It is also important to find out why the document has survived.
  • What does this document tell you? You can approach this from two different directions. The first is to pull quotes out of the document and to explain the meaning of the quotation. The second approach is to write what you think the document says, and then provide quotations from the document as proof. Examples of what you can learn from a document are:
  • What does the document tell you about…
  • ~The time period it was written? Example/proof.
  • ~The people of the time? Example/proof.
  • ~The creator of the document? Example/proof.
  • ~What was important to the people of the time? Example/proof.
  • ~What is the result of this document? Example/proof.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

Post activity

  • Have students share their findings with a partner (or partners).
    Have students share their findings to the class.


  • Students should have a greater understanding of the text analyzed.


  • Prior to assessing student work, the teacher should have a list of takeaways for the text being used.
  • When assessing student understanding and progress, it is important to take into account the difficulty of the text being analyzed.
  • As this is an ongoing skill, it is important to consider the overall progress of individual students.
  • Was the Document Analysis process complete (all steps)?
  • How well did students provide proof for their conclusions? Did they reference passages in the text that support their ideas?

California State Content Standards Met

  • History-Social Science Content Standards 6-8
  • ~Research, Evidence, and Point of View: 1, 4

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
  • Writing Standards 6-12
  • ~Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 8, 9
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • ~Comprehension and Collaboration: 1, 2, 3
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
  • ~Craft and Structure: 6
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
  • ~Text Types and Purposes: 1

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