Ideal for Distance Learning: Primary Source-Based Interactives and Apps

This post is written by Lee Ann Potter, the director of the Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives Office at the Library of Congress, and originally appeared on the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog on May 5, 2020. Since then, three additional interactives have launched: Journalism in Action by PBS NewsHour Extra, Civics: An American Musical by FableVision Games, and Voices for Suffrage from Second Avenue Learning. You can read more about these and find links to them here.

If you are a regular reader of the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog, you know that the resources we highlight and the strategies we suggest are teacher-focused.  We recognize that you know your students best.  You know what primary sources will capture their attention and what approaches will help meet your curricular objectives.

This post is also teacher-focused, in that we are writing to you, but today we are highlighting some resources that feature the Library’s collections and were developed specifically for students.  If you are currently teaching at a distance, inviting your students to work directly with these online interactives and mobile apps may be of interest.

Students using KidCitizen

Perhaps your K-5 students are . . .

. . . learning about how to be community helpers.

KidCitizen, developed by Snow and Company and University of South Florida, introduces a new way for young students (K-5) to engage with history through primary sources.  In the interactive episodes, children explore civics and government concepts by investigating primary source photographs.  They also connect what they find with their daily lives.

Perhaps your secondary students are . . .

. . . embarking on a historical research project,

The Research Learning Modules, developed by Maryland Public Television and Maryland Humanities, include a series of self-paced lessons for students to learn the research process—from analyzing sources to writing solid thesis statements and more.  Each module includes a brief video introduction and opportunities for practice.

 . . . practicing evidence-based reasoning,

DBQuest, developed by iCivics, introduces students to major questions in civics and history. A Big Question acts as guiding light for deep examination of three selected primary resources. Each document challenges students to dig into the text itself and find the relevant information through document–based supporting questions.

. . . identifying the basic tenets of representative government,

Engaging Congress, developed by the Indiana University Center on Representative Government, is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges that it faces in contemporary society. Primary source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today.

. . . developing their knowledge of civic principles,

Case Maker, developed by Bean Creative, is a customizable system for inquiry-based learning for 6-8 grade students using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Modeled after the ‘observe, reflect, question,’ framework, Case Maker guides students to challenge a question, collect evidence, and make a case.

. . . or learning about the women’s suffrage movement.

Eagle Eye Citizen, developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills. Their featured challenge focuses on the women’s suffrage movement.

*All of the resources featured in this post were developed by organizations that have received grant funding from the Library of Congress through the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program.  For more information about them and our other grantees, see: //loc.gov/teachers/tps/.

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