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Teacher's Corner: October 

Enhancing Student Projects Through the Use of Primary Sources

If you are like me, with school in full swing, then perhaps you have found yourself in the midst of a long term project. Generally these exhibitions of student understanding and creativity, created for classroom use or part of a national contest like History Day and Science Fair, require some form of research.  Lessons about keywords, acquiring sources, and documentation of research all play a key role in the skills development of our students.  In teaching them to acquire authentic primary sources, they can enhance their work through firsthand experience and knowledge of events. Letters, diary entries, photographs, sound and video recordings, and many others provide visual material for PowerPoint presentations, documentaries, displays, and research papers. Of course, visiting your local historical society is a great place to start! I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite sites to access primary sources.

American Memory at the Library of Congress contains written, spoken word, and sound recordings; still and moving images, as well as prints, maps, and sheet music documenting the American experience. A simple search in any of the categories provides a wealth of material for you and your students. The Library also houses a teacher resource center complete with lesson plans, activities, bundled collections, and professional development opportunities.

StoryCorps , started in 2003, presents thousands of recordings of everyday people on a variety of topics. These can be found at the American Folklife Center, which houses a variety of other primary sources. All recordings are archived at the Library of Congress.

The Internet Archive provides a digital library which includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in its collections. My favorite includes thousands of “stock” film clips.

Happy Hunting!

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