“There are millions of primary sources online at the Library of Congress! Where do I start?” is a common question from K-12 teachers.
Here’s some advice from California teacher Lindsay Robinson: “Start by using the tools and materials available on the Teachers Page. If you’ve never used primary sources before, try using a primary source set. After teaching with one or more of these sets in class, you can adapt or add layers to the lesson. I would also urge teachers to use the Teacher’s Guides and the Analysis Tool for students….”
I’m glad to pass on that advice. The Teachers Page is designed to make the Library’s resources easy for teachers and school librarians to use. We know that it’s time-consuming to find primary sources, much less put them into context; so, as my colleagues and I are fond of saying, “We do the searching for you, so you can focus on the teaching and learning.” We put primary sources into context via lesson plans, online and offline activities, presentations, timelines, analysis tools and professional development resources.
If you’re new to teaching with primary sources, a good place to start is Using Primary Sources, where you’ll find answers to the questions, “What are primary sources, and what do I do with them?” Read Why Use Primary Sources to learn the value of teaching with primary sources and the benefits to your students. This section also includes the Teacher’s Guides and Analysis Tool, the ready-to-use analysis guides for primary sources in various formats (photographs, maps, cartoons, manuscripts, music and more) and a reproducible analysis tool for your students.
Classroom Materials is your go-to section of the Teachers Page to start using primary sources in your classroom. Look for lesson plans and activities that meet your state standards, or browse through them topically. Explore the popular Primary Source Sets – selected primary sources on specific topics, available as easy-to-print PDFs, with background information, teaching ideas and tools to guide student analysis.
The Professional Development section should be the first stop for anyone interested in standards-based staff development related to primary sources. PD facilitators can create their own personalized professional development modules and download complete facilitator’s guides using the Build and Deliver tool. Meanwhile, teachers on their own can find self-paced online modules on topics ranging from Analyzing Primary Sources: Maps to Copyright and Primary Sources.
The Teachers Page has much more to offer, but here are a few ideas for getting started:
- Brand new to using primary sources? Get an overview of the Library’s digitized materials and K-12 resources with Introduction to the Library of Congress, a self-paced professional development module.
- Select a Primary Source Set and choose a photograph that will engage your students. Read the Teacher’s Guide to Analyzing Photographs and Prints and choose several questions. Display the photograph on a large screen, and then use the questions from the Teacher’s Guide to facilitate a whole-class primary source analysis of the photograph. For tips from participants from the Library’s 2011 Summer Teacher Institute, read Top Ten Tips for Facilitating an Effective Primary Source Analysis.
- At the top of the Teachers Page, select Find classroom materials that meet your state standards and browse the materials available for your subject and grade.
- When you want to find primary sources on a specific topic, go to Finding Primary Sources for a list of great places to start looking.
What features of the Teachers Page have you found most helpful? What do you look forward to trying?