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Posts tagged ‘primary sources’

Tip of the Week: DPLA primary source sets

Several years ago, I ran across the Digital Public Library of America, a very cool online archive of primary sources, teaching ideas, and depository of all sorts of history collections. I wrote a quick overview of the DLPA and highlighted some of the useful tools that were available. It continues to be a powerful resource and is one of those non-negotiable sites that all social studies teachers need to bookmark.

Recently, Samantha Gibson from the DPLA contacted me with an update on their latest project. The project, Read more

5 strategies for integrating primary source documents

When I firsted started teaching 8th grade American History, there was no access to primary sources. There weren’t any online archives. DocsTeach? Nope. Stanford History Education Group? Nope. Library of Congress? Nada.

I made due with whatever supplementary materials showed up with my textbook and the few Jackdaw kits that I was able to track down and order. But here’s the thing . . . even if I had somehow gotten access to primary source documents, I’m not sure what I would have done with them. Like most social studies teachers at the time (and more than just a few today), I really didn’t have a clue of how to use primary sources as part of the learning process.

Even worse, I wasn’t really sure why I should be using this sort of evidence. What was the point? Every kid had a textbook. I had a teacher’s version of the textbook. I could lecture. I was set.

But with the help of some amazing mentors, I began moving more towards the idea that kids need to be active users of evidence while solving problems. And there is now a clear shift in social studies and history instruction towards this idea of historical thinking, using evidence, and problem solving. More and more teachers are using primary sources as integral pieces of the learning process.

There has been a cool supply and demand process happening over the last few years. Teachers want and need more primary sources. The internet has made those sources more available and accessible. More availability and accessibility means more teachers are using those sources. More teachers used to this availability of sources demand even more sources.

But there will always be questions about how to best use primary sources. A recent article by Discovery Ed’s  does a nice job of highlighting five effective integration strategies. I’ve pasted a quick summary of Joe’s thinking but be sure to head over to Discovery Ed to get the full meal deal: Read more

#nche2016: Nathan McAlister and Teaching Literacy through History

I can say that I knew Nathan before he became famous. He and I worked together in our first Teaching American History project. A few years later in 2010, he was selected as the National Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year. He was and still is a middle school teacher at Royal Valley Middle School. And just so you know, he’s awesome.

So when I decided to attend this session and found out that Nathan was the presenter, well . . . double bonus.

At its core, the Teaching Literacy through History is an interdisciplinary professional development program that uses primary documents and historical texts to improve K–12 education. GLI wants to come to your school or district to help create lessons and curriculum. Read more

#nche2016: Using the story of Angel Island to build elementary historical thinking skills

One of the cool things that is happening around the country is that more and more elementary classrooms are focusing on integrating history into their instruction. But there are always questions about what this can look like. During this session, Lisa Hutton from California State University, Dominguez Hills shared some ideas of things teachers can do to support historical thinking skills with grade school kids.

The idea? Use foundational knowledge / specific historical events to build the historical thinking and literacy skills. She used the engaging and powerful story of Pacific and Asian immigrants during the early 1900s who transitioned through Angel Island off the coast of California.

Lisa started with her historical inquiry process model: Read more

Library of Congress online conference archives

Last fall, the Library of Congress hosted its first online conference. Education experts and subject matter specialists presented 15 different sessions discussing resources and teaching strategies for using primary sources in the classroom.

And it was awesome. But I have to admit . . .  I didn’t actually attend the thing. I didn’t have time during the actual day to sit through the different webinars. So I missed it.

But it was still awesome.

Because the LOC posted all of the webinars online. Meaning I could pick and choose, listening to the presentations when I had time. And I’ve slowly worked my way through them. The cool thing is that you as well. If you missed the conference or perhaps hadn’t even heard about the goodness that was the first ever LOC online conference, it’s not too late. Read more

Tip of the Week: Assessing historical thinking made easy

Several years ago, I had the chance to be part of a learning community facilitated by Bruce Lesh. At the time, Bruce was teaching high school in Maryland and traveled to Kansas for a week as part of our Century of Progress TAH grant.

He shared a ton of great stuff including his idea of History Labs and the process of historical thinking. Like many of us, part of his social studies world view included ideas from Sam Wineburg. Wineburg uses the semantics of sourcing, contextualizing, and corroborating. He also talks quite a bit about kids working to “read between the lines” as part of that analysis process.

Bruce altered that language a bit and used the words text, context, and subtext to describe student thinking skills. The basic idea is the same but I like the alliteration / re-use of the word “text” and how that can help kids remember what their task is when making sense of evidence. Since then, teachers in the group have continued to use his vocabulary.

Many of the TAH project participants continue to meet four times a year to share ideas and hone their skills. Yesterday was day four of the year and among other things, we celebrated the birthday of Thomas Jefferson and hosted a historical political campaign t-shirt design contest. Read more

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