Analyzing primary sources, just like sharing my personal pictures, has provided students with first hand information from the past. This allows students to build connections between the concept being learned and the primary source and leads to powerful learning.
This process of observing, of reflecting on observations along with prior knowledge, and of generating questions about a primary source is valuable in itself. It also can serve as a springboard into further research.
The process of selecting books published long ago for a present-day audience provoked thoughtful conversations among our staff. We knew that the style of writing, the subject matter, and even the jokes found in century-old books might be difficult for young readers today to engage with. We knew that every book that we selected would inevitably reflect some of the attitudes, perspectives and beliefs of its own time, as well as failing to represent diverse authors and audiences.
The maker movement seems to be a current topic, but it had some interesting ancestors during the 1700s and 1800s! While perusing the amazing digitized collections at the Library of Congress, I was fascinated to discover organizations in early America that reminded me of today's makers.
General Tubman, suffragist, spy, nurse, Moses, and Aunt Harriet are just some of the titles that heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman has been given. Tubman, and her multiple roles and identities from her early life to her elderly years, was the focus of a recent Library of Congress/Young Readers Center program.
Analyzing secret messages from the past can also be a fun way for students to gain perspective into historical events while simultaneously practicing real-world mathematical and computational thinking skills.