I was chatting recently with a teacher about primary sources in the classroom, and she asked if the Library of Congress offers an online resource that has a new primary source every day. Ideally, this would be something that can be easily located and used on a daily basis – in homeroom, as a class starter, or as part of an instructional center.
Four resources came to mind, and I’d like to share them with you. Each has a unique URL that you can bookmark on your classroom or library computers, and each offers unique primary sources every day of the year.
- Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers – Explore front pages across the nation from “100 Years Ago Today.”
- Jukebox Day by Day – Listen to music that was recorded on any given day of the year.
- Jump Back in Time – Go to “Pick a date to visit!” to find primary sources from America’s Library, a resource that’s appropriate for elementary, middle and ELL students.
- Today in History – Discover an event from American history illustrated by primary sources from the Library’s historic collections. Visit the Archives to jump to a specific date.
Here are four simple ideas for using these sites:
Extra, Extra: Have students compare Chronicling America headlines from 100 years ago to those of today. What’s one thing that has changed, and one that hasn’t? Students will be surprised by their findings.
Homeroom Jukebox: Make a computer with headphones available for students to visit Jukebox Day by Day and discover what music was recorded on this particular date and what it says about that era. Alternately, have a student select a piece to play out loud while everyone takes care of morning tasks.
Early Bird Activity: Display a primary source from any of the four sites. Have students explore it when they arrive and share just one detail, question or hypothesis.
To deepen learning, you could have students practice a thinking skill as they explore one or more primary sources (examine, describe, compare, contrast, summarize, and so forth). Provide a question, sentence starter, or cloze task that exercises that specific skill, and change it periodically.
We’d love to hear any other ideas you have for using these four resources in your classroom or library.