Welcome (or welcome back!) to Teaching with the Library of Congress, where we hope you discover and discuss the most effective techniques for using Library of Congress primary sources in the classroom. We invite readers to engage with topics ranging from What Makes a Primary Source a Primary Source? to what’s happening “next month in history?” Here are staff picks for places to start – or continue – teaching with primary sources.
What does the Library of Congress have for me?
“There are millions of primary sources online at the Library of Congress! Where do I start?” is a common question from K-12 teachers. Both The Library of Congress Teachers Page: Resources for Getting Started with Primary Sources and What the Library of Congress Has for Teachers: Primary Sources and Tools and Techniques to Use Them offer a number of easy ways to jump in to teaching with the Library’s online collections of primary sources.
Primary source analysis strategies
We’ve gathered strategies, techniques, and tools for analyzing primary sources into a couple of handy reference posts.
- Blog Round-Up: Primary Source Analysis Strategies “presents…low-tech ideas that will work in every classroom, no matter what the level of technology access.”
- Blog Round-Up: Using the Primary Source Analysis Tool points to articles offering ways to improve students’ ability to observe, reflect, and question primary sources as they move toward constructing knowledge. Two of the highlights are Top Ten Tips for Facilitating an Effective Primary Source Analysis, garnered from teachers; and Selecting Questions to Increase Student Engagement, which suggests effective ways to use the set of teacher’s guides to analyze many primary source formats, including maps, political cartoons, sound recordings, and more.
Looking for classroom activities? Practicing Close Observation: Spying on the Past introduces even the youngest students to primary source analysis with a focus on the foundational skill of observation. Introduce students to the value of exploring multiple perspectives and deepen their skills at reading informational text with strategies outlined in Informational Text: Multiple Points of View in Multiple Formats.
Leave a comment if you try any of these strategies, or if you have one to add.