Is it possible to love the Library of Congress too much? No. No, it is not.
Is it possible to fall more deeply in love with a library?
I mean . . . I’m already in love with the Library of Congress. That’s a given. But I had the chance to attend a remote meeting yesterday with a few of LOC’s amazing staff and I’m pretty sure that I’m more in love with the LOC now than I was before.
And it’s all because of three things. Three things that I kind of knew the Library had but forgot they had or they were moved and I wasn’t sure how to find them.
So . . . if you’re looking for more reasons to love the Library, you need to spend some time exploring these three awesome digital resources.
1. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to spend time traveling around the great state of Kansas with some very smart people as we shared updates on the state social studies assessment. Part of those conversations centered on the use of primary and secondary sources in the assessment process.
And there are usually lots of questions.
- Where can I find sources?
- Where can my students find sources?
- What strategies work best for finding sources?
- How can I help my students use primary sources?
- What sources are reliable?
- What is the difference between a primary and secondary source?
- How can I help my students cite their sources?
All awesome questions. Not just for the state assessment we’re asking kids to complete but for everyday sorts of instruction.
The Library has got you covered. Head over to their Using the Library of Congress Online: A Guide for Middle and High School Students section and you will find all sorts of tools, tips, and tricks for helping your kids find, use, and cite primary and secondary sources. And I don’t want to judge but I think all of us can use a good refresher course in primary sources now and again.
This Guide is perfect for all of the above.
It provides links to primary and secondary sources, as well as information on citing sources, formatting papers, strategies for searching, and types of sources. In short, it is designed to help you identify and use online resources from the Library of Congress for a whole range of research projects that you might ask your kids to complete. You get six sections of easy to follow steps, all designed to make the process of using evidence as easy as possible.
And if you or students have specific questions, you can always contact a reference librarian, via their very cool “Ask-a-Librarian” feature.
2. As we ask our students to do more of their own research, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some of guide that would help them do research on a certain topic? And as you look for primary resources to integrate into your instructional designs, wouldn’t it be handy if there was a list somewhere that highlighted the different places you might look to find specific sources? You know, like a list of research guides?
Well, of course, the Library has a whole series of Research Guides. This was one of the things I knew the Library had but wasn’t really sure where it was. The web designers finally added a direct link to this fantastic list to the side navbar on the Teachers Page. So you can now get to it without any problem at all.
And it is amazing.
Say you’re teaching a unit on the American Revolution and are looking for some of George Washington’s writings during the period. And maybe some handy websites. And a few books that might be appropriate for elementary kids. No problem.
Head to the Library’s huge list of Research Guides.
Scroll down the list to American History. Click that so that it expands to reveal an even bigger list.
Click on American Revolution: A Resource Guide.
Click on the left navbar to open the Digital Collections.
Scroll down to George Washington and click on the George Washington papers. Ta da!
Or go back to the navbar and click the External Websites link. Or the Print Resources link where you’ll find lists of both more traditional history books as well as links to books for younger readers. Prepare to be amazed by all of the stuff you can use to create lessons, activities, and assessments.
Now multiply that by hundreds of specific topic guides and you begin to get a sense of how. Much. Stuff you can find using the Library’s research guides. You’re welcome.
3. The third awesome digital resource you need to fall deeply in love is the U.S. History Primary Source Timeline. At one time, this part of the Library was titled American Memory. Then it fell into a bit of hidden black hole when the Library reorganized its Teachers page. And I lost it. But during yesterday get together, Staci Eileen Moats walked me through the steps to find it again.
If you’re curious, here ya go:
Go to the Library of Congress front page > Click the Teachers tab > Click the Classroom Materials tab > Click Presentations on the left navbar > Scroll down and click on U.S. History Primary Source Timeline.
Trust me. If you’re looking for some handy US History primary sources for you or your students use, this is one of the best places to start. You’ll start on a page that chunks out US History in fairly traditional watershed periods.
So we’ll go back to that American Revolution unit we were planning earlier. Head to the Timeline page and click on the American Revolution.
Then scroll through the 11 American Revolution sub-sections to find a topic that might be useful. I picked the Home Front.
And now I’ve got a great list of curated primary documents I’m able to integrate into my instruction or share with students. I love this method of curating resources – Library experts have already chunked out the time periods and pre-selected appropriate sources for me to use. This also makes the Timeline a perfect place to send your students.
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Glenn is a curriculum and integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.