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OER Use of Primary Sources

Module by: Judy Baker. E-mail the author

Summary: Guide to using primary sources for teaching.

OER Use of Primary Sources

Lesson Components

  • Fast Fact
  • Skill/Objective
  • Success Indicators
  • Introduction
  • Activity
  • Review questions
  • Resources

Fast Fact

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with nearly 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include: books and other printed materials, sound and motion picture recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts. Reference: Office of the Librarian

Skills/Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  1. Identify resources for use of primary sources as learning materials in their own teaching disciplines.
  2. Locate at least one primary source for use in their own teaching.
  3. Develop a lesson plan using primary sources.

Success Indicators

  1. Learner will post a lesson plan that uses at least one primary source as an OER for their own teaching.

Introduction

According to the National Archives, the use of primary documents as learning materials promotes

  1. Student awareness that all written history is subjective in the sense that it reflects an author's interpretation of past events, and
  2. Important analytical skills.

Primary sources include:

  • personal records (birth certificates, death certificates, passports, driver's licenses)
  • federal census figures
  • newspapers
  • local government files
  • letters, personal diaries and memoirs
  • drawings and photographs
  • oral histories
  • artifacts
  • court transcripts

Complete the Introductory Lesson about primary sources available from the American Memory project at the Library of Congress.

The Smithsonian Source Teaching with Primary Sources is another useful resource for teaching American History. It includes videos, lesson plans, and searchable collection of primary documents.

American Rhetoric makes audio clips of various speeches available from a Speech Bank via the internet. Website content at American Rhetoric is free for educational uses under the Fair Use exception with attribution.

Activity

Experience

Complete at least two of the following activities:

  1. Review one of the lesson plans posted at the National Archive's Teaching With Documents: Lesson Plans and look at the Analysis Worksheets.
  2. Create an account at the Smithsonian Source Teaching with Primary Sources so that you can review lessons and add them to your own collection. Click on Historical Perspectives to find a topic of interest to you and find DBQ to add to your collection.
  3. Create an account and login to the Primary Source so that you can set up a Portfolio for storing primary documents that you have identified and selected for use. Contribute a Library of Congress resource link for your subject area. Search the Learning Experiences Collection, select a Learning Experience of interest, and review it.
  4. Create an introductory activity for your own students following the instructions posted at Primary Source Learning.

Reflect

Post your responses to the following questions in your course Discussion area:

  • How would the learning experience be different for a student completing a lesson that uses primary sources versus the same lesson that uses a textbook?
  • What challenges might you encounter as a teacher using primary sources instead of textbooks?

Apply

  1. Identify a set of primary sources for use in your teaching.
  2. Develop a lesson plan using these primary sources. Post your lesson plan to MERLOT or OER Commons.

Review Questions

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages to using primary sources for teaching?
  2. What are the most useful resources for teaching with primary sources in your discipline and why?

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Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

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Who can create a lens?

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| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks