This summer, 125 teachers from around the country came to Washington to participate in five Library of Congress Summer Teachers Institutes to learn more about using the library’s primary sources in the classroom. At each week-long institute, staff from the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project participate in an open house, where curators from around the library talk with teachers about their online resources and ideas for lesson plans.
The last week of July featured a special institute on teaching the Civil Rights Movement. Teacher in Residence Rebecca Newland showed a clip of the interview with Gertrude Newsome Jackson from the Civil Rights History Project. The teachers analyzed the clip and strategized about how they would use it in the classroom, discussed discussed the differences between watching the video and reading the transcript, and how to corroborate oral histories with other primary sources and provide the necessary historical context. Guha Shankar and I also gave an overview of the Civil Rights History Project and how to search and navigate the website. Many teachers were interested in teaching about the movement beyond the common stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., and inquired about topics such as the use of music in the movement and the history of the struggle for desegregation in the communities where they teach.
This spring, the Library of Congress collaborated with History for their semiannual publication for teachers on using primary sources in the classroom, called The Idea Book for Educators, which is available as a PDF from History’s website. This fall’s issue includes primary sources about the Civil Rights Movement from the Library of Congress (including oral histories from the Civil Rights History Project) with lesson plans and ideas for interactive and engaging learning.
For those of you heading back to the classroom this fall, check out the American Folklife Center’s website for educators. The Library of Congress teachers’ website also includes a wealth of primary source lesson plans across all subject areas, information about workshops and institutes, the Teaching with Primary Sources Journal and the Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog.