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.
In my first blog post as Teacher in Residence, I set a number of goals: to connect primary sources to literature, to create research questions to advance inquiry, and to foster library skills. I was able to meet these goals in a number of ways and to reach out to teachers and librarians with approaches to working with primary sources and teaching research skills.
This activity features three photographs taken by Lewis Hine as part of his work as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine had a specific objective when labeling his photos and the titles are ideal for this activity, but the strategies would work with many other primary sources.
We have explored using primary source items to develop research questions, and to strengthen analysis through sourcing and contextualizing. Next, we explore the value of using primary sources from the Library of Congress to guide students to evaluate sources and use evidence.
In a recent Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) workshop, gathered to learn about the power of teaching with primary sources, a teacher was concerned that she needed to “change everything” to address anchor standards for reading. As we discussed ideas for using primary sources in the classroom (already a good sign, right?), we realized that some small activities, such as close attention to reading a title, can be very powerful.
One way to engage students with what they're reading, without turning an extra-curricular club into a class, is to introduce Library of Congress primary and secondary sources related to a particular book, a particular author, or to reading in general.