This post comes to us from the Library of Congress Teacher In Residence, Earnestine Sweeting.
Have you been looking for easy access to primary sources to help students think critically and write analytically?
On the Library of Congress’ Teachers page, you’ll find sets of primary sources preselected specifically for classroom use. Learning activities can be designed from these sets of freely accessible primary sources to help your students analyze and synthesize primary sources. These resources can be a valuable time saver in planning lessons to prepare students from elementary through high school to effectively respond to Document Based Questions, otherwise known as DBQ’s.
The DBQ requires students to analyze common themes, assess varied perspectives on major historical events, and provide historically based evidence and reasoning to support their ideas. These skills, of course, are valuable in completing tasks other than answering a DBQ. Whether your students are presented with DBQ’s or not, you can use the Library’s sets of primary sources on specific topics, together with the Primary Source Analysis Tool, as an instructional resource that provides a range of visual and textual information to increase critical thinking.
Teachers can use:
- The American Memory Timeline to find primary sources arranged chronologically from a specific time period. The links to the right will lead you to sets of selected primary sources on a variety of topics in United States History.
- Primary Source Sets to find primary sources on specific topics. These sets provide an array of items in various formats including maps, cartoons, photographs, and newspapers.
Students can organize and record their thoughts and ideas on the Primary Source Analysis Tool. Questions selected from the Teacher’s Guide to Analyzing Primary Sources can prompt further student observation and analysis of the primary sources.
How might you use these sets to structure tasks or assignments that require your students to reconcile conflicting information, evaluate evidence, and analyze common themes?