Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Primary Sources & Historial Fiction

 Primary Sources I used in a recent activity introducing historical fiction titles:
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Library of Congress: Teacher Resources

Last week I took part in a Teacher's Institute at the Library of Congress. I was fortunate to attend with a wonderful cross-section of teachers and media specialists from around the country. I learned just as much from my classmates as I did from the facilitators from the LOC (if you can't wait for the next teacher institute, you can take online modules). We talked about inquiry, visible thinking strategies, and so many other topics that my head is still spinning!

There are so many support tools available on the LOC's teacher page. There are teacher's guides and a student primary source analysis tool under "Using Primary Sources" and under "Classroom Materials" you can find lesson plans, themed resources, and primary source sets (to name a few). The LOC has over 25 million digitized resources, it is so nice to have a lot of the leg work already done for you!

I think music is a great primary source that can help students connect with the past. The National Jukebox has historic recordings from the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thinking Like an Historian

Thinking like an historian is another reason to encourage students to examine primary sources in research. The National History Education Clearinghouse has many resources for K-12 teachers (lesson plans, website reviews, Best Practices (Teaching in Action), and videos. There are elementary, middle school, and high school introduction videos, as well as a video called "What is Historical Thinking?" This is a great way to introduce to students the importance of accessing and analyzing primary sources.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On the importance of going back to the original source

One response teachers encounter when encouraging students to use primary sources is "Why should I read the whole document when the textbook only shows the relevant part & sums up the rest?"

Well, sometimes the person or organization that summarizes the original source quotes out of context or misrepresents the source. This clip of Sen. Al Franken (at a Senate hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act) can be used with secondary classes to show why it is important to consult the primary source as much as possible:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Music as Primary Source

Who says primary sources are only "dusty old documents?" Photographs, videorecordings, and sound recordings are also primary documents that are highly engaging to today's students.

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with an 8th grade social studies teacher on a Civil Rights music video project. Students were asked to select a song from the Civil Rights era (or a song inspired by the struggle for civil rights), analyze the lyrics, and create a music video for the song using photographs and short video clips. This project builds upon lessons not only in social studies classes, but in language arts & computers, as well. For example, students had analyzed the lyrics to Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" in Language Arts class as part of their study of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and made movies in computer class with iMovie.

Students, working in groups, had the option of using Windows PhotoStory 3, Windows Movie Maker (both available on all school computers), iMovie (available on many school computers), or the website Animoto.

This project was not only a great way to have students analyze primary sources (The Library of Congress provides many tools for analyzing primary documents-see Analyzing Photographs & Prints and Analyzing Sound Recordings), it was also a great way to incorporate many Web 2.0 tools. We used a wiki to consolidate resources for students, used Playlist to provide examples of appropriate songs (the site also provides an embed code), and students were encouraged to use Google Docs to collaborate on their lyrics analysis.

But wait, there's more! We were also able to discuss the concepts of remixing the songs & images into a new work. While respecting copyright (students were required to cite all images, videos, and songs), they also learned about Creative Commons first hand.

Students were required to use higher order thinking skills and many 21st Century Skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity; media & technology skills). When asked, students said that they had a lot of fun creating the videos. Students also said, during a reflection of the project, that looking at so many images of the civil rights movment helped them to fully understand their readings and class discussions. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.
Exemplar video.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inaugural Post


I am a middle school media specialist, and this summer I will attend one of the Library of Congress' Teacher Institutes. If you are unable to attend, the LOC has many resources for teachers available online, such as the Primary Source sets.

I intend to use this space to post lesson plans and any other resources that I find (or create) that help teachers and media specialists incorporate primary sources into the middle school curriculum. Posting will be light in the spring, but will pick up in July!