Thursday, March 15, 2012

National Archives Resources for Teaching with Primary Sources

In the recent post, I talked about four ways to use primary sources in the classroom: focus activities, inquiry activities, application activities, and assessment activities

In response, archivist Jeff Malcomson just pointed me to a nifty list of 15 ways to use primary sources in the classroom, created by the National Archives.

Their suggestions include such cross-curricular ideas as

Project Inspiration: Let documents serve as examples for student created projects. For example: If your economics assignment is for students to create a poster encouraging young people to save money, share examples of WWII savings bond campaign posters with them,” and

Writing Activity: Use documents to prompt a student writing activity. For example: Share with students a letter and ask them to either respond to it or write the letter that may have prompted it.”

The list is part of the National Archives Educators Toolbox.  

Other elements of the toolbox include

History in the Raw
Guidelines for Using Primary Resources
Primary Sources Help Teach and Reinforce Historical Thinking Skills
Universal Truths of Teaching with Documents
What can I do with resources from the National Archives?
Links to document analysis worksheets
Links to professional development opportunities, and
Links to videoconferencing workshops for students and teachers

I was really intrigued by this last link—these "interactive and document based" videoconferencing workshops are made possible through "ISDN or IP-based videoconferencing systems." (I confess--I didn't completely understand this last part. Does your school have access to this?)

The student workshops are available for groups of up to 30 students, grade 5-12.  Your school initiates and pays for the call to the National Archives—there is no other charge. Topics include “The Constitution” and “Introduction to the National Archives and Records Administration.”

This is all in addition to the site Docsteach.orgwhich provides online tools and interactive learning activities using National Archives documents.

If anyone has participated in one of the National Archives videoconferencing sessions, or successfully used Docsteach with his or her students, I'd love to get a review.

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