Looking for easy ways to create a classroom environment that encourages inquiry-based, interactive use of primary sources from the Library of Congress? Here are some ideas from teachers and librarians across the United States.
- Bookmark the interactive Primary Source Analysis Tool on your classroom computers or iPads.
- Assemble a box of tools for primary source analysis – students can help:
- A class set of papers with a quadrant cut away to focus observations on 1/4 of the source at a time. For K-1, cut out a “window” instead.
- A few magnifying glasses.
- A stack of blank Primary Source Analysis Tools.
- Have students do an analysis of an old photo that just happens to be of you as a child.
- Have each student bring in five primary sources from home. Create a mini-museum.
- Post the following prominently: “I think____________ because __________” to help students get in the habit of supporting their ideas when examining primary sources.
- Try asking, “What makes you say that?” to help students think about their thinking.
- Allow more wait time and “trust the silence.” Give students time to form their ideas.
- Have young students put together pieces of a primary source image to practice working together while exploring an item. Print an item and cut it up, or print a map that’s already in pieces.
- Try moving desks out of rows and into groups, for more collaborative work with primary and secondary sources. Try small groups and “think/pair/share.”
- Have students deepen observation skills by looking at the “background” in a primary source, as well as the foreground.
If you have a beginning-of-the-year tip, please take a moment to share it in the comments below.