Vivian Awumey, who manages the Teaching with Primary Sources program, contributed this post.
Have you ever wondered how to use photographs, recordings, or short films in your non-art classroom? The latest issue of the Library of Congress TPS Journal has ideas for incorporating fine and performing arts-related primary sources from the Library of Congress collections across the curriculum.
Art has a unique ability to evoke compassion, understanding and connection. Fine and performing arts-related primary sources provide an engaging way to build students’ content knowledge while strengthening their academic skills. For example, this issue’s feature article, Primary Sources from the Fine and Performing Arts: Observe, Reflect, Explore, written by the staff of TPS at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, investigates changes in word choice and meter in five drafts that Langston Hughes created before publishing his poem, “The Ballad of Booker T.” It also includes ideas to focus student analysis of Gibson Girl drawings, those iconic depictions of sophisticated young women, as a way to learn about societal changes at the turn of the last century. The Depression era was rife with human suffering and yearning, much of it expressed through art, and the article suggests strategies for analyzing songs and poems written by inhabitants of WPA camps as a way of helping students better understand both the experiences of displaced persons and the government’s efforts to help.
In this issue of the TPS Journal you’ll also find:
- A short compilation of current thinking and research about art in education
- An interview of fifth grade teacher Audrey Blust, who uses primary sources to build her students’ critical thinking and observation skills
- An elementary learning activity that looks for meaning in different depictions of a national symbol
- A secondary learning activity centered on the analysis of a well-known Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington
Be sure to also check out archived issues of the TPS Journal for ideas about using primary sources to support inquiry learning, encourage historical thinking, teach English Language Learners, and more!