Viewing a film in class is a commitment of time and technology. Teachers want students to be active viewers, but most are more familiar with passively viewing film and video. How can teachers present film in a way that students are more likely to analyze its content? What aspects of viewing film may be beneficial to consider before analysis?
In the October 2015 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article featured a letter written by Thomas Jefferson a little more than 200 years ago. We suggested that Jefferson’s single page letter to his friend Samuel Harrison Smith, founder of the National Intelligencer, might serve to remind students that events in history often overlap one another.
One benefit of my job at the Library of Congress is that I get to learn some history and read critical analysis while also locating resources and finding ways to support teachers in the classroom. One topic that I continue to learn more about is the history of the ways in which the lives of Native Americans in the United States have been documented.
Throughout history, humans have sought out substances to color, coat, and cover dwellings, objects, and bodies. Modern inorganic pigments and dyes joined natural and organic substances used by the ancients. The properties of one substance, lead white, once made it the pigment of choice in white paint. However, the toxicity of lead contributed to a public health crisis.
Textbooks and teachers often tell students about German scientist Alfred Wegener who went public in 1912 with his theory of continental drift. The scientific community did not widely accept Wegener's ideas during his lifetime and often derided colleagues who entertained the theory. Wegener passed away in 1930. Even as Marie Tharp was creating maps in the 1950s, scientists were actively constructing ideas and compiling evidence related to seafloor spreading and magnetic striping.
What might a map from 1977, a poster from 1944, and a newspaper article from 1915 have in common with three twentieth century wars and the theory of plate tectonics? These three digitized artifacts in the Library of Congress’s collection have quite a bit in common when it comes to the emergence of evidence supporting a key theory in Earth science.
Now there's one especially for working with newspapers. Pair this guide with the printable or online primary source analysis tool to guide students into deeper analysis and reflection of primary sources from the online collections of rich historical primary sources from the Library of Congress.