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: