Thursday, July 23, 2015

Focus on Primary Sources - Exploring the Library of Congress

Today we're heading back into the land of using primary sources in our classrooms.  If you missed the first post in this series, you can go back and read it here.  

In the last post, I wrote about the importance of using primary sources.  Which usually leads to, "That's great.  I want to do that.  Where do I find them?"

And that question leads us to more resources for primary sources than you would think.  In fact, the plethora of websites and digital collections can be pretty overwhelming.  So, when people ask me where to look, I usually send them to the Library of Congress first.  It's one of the best and most comprehensive places to find primary sources that we have available.

To start, click here to go straight to the LOC's classroom materials page.  

There are lots of ways to search, as you can see, and please feel free to explore ANY of these.  But the quickest and easiest is to simply search by your state standard.

To do that, just click the State Content button.  You can see that options for state, grade, and subject are available.  Since I'm me, I'm going to choose Tennessee, third grade, and social studies.

And you can see the resources that they have available!  Of course, they don't have something for every single standard, but they do have a LOT (if you keep scrolling when you do this yourself, you'll see what I mean).  Here, I see that they have resources that align with Tennessee's social studies standard 3.2.  I can tell that they have 23 classroom materials available:  9 primary source sets (this will be a collection of photos, maps, etc.), 1 lesson plan, 1 activity, and 12 Collection Connections.

Collection Connections allow you to dig really deep into different aspects of this standard.  For example, this standard is all about geography and maps.  If I click on Collection Connections, I get this:
These are some of the Connections resources that are available.  If I choose to learn more about The Hotchkiss Map, I click on the link and see this:

I could spend DAYS in this site and not explore everything that the LOC has to offer.  It truly is your one stop shop for using primary sources in the classroom.  Because it is so much, here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate these resources a little easier.

1.  Have a question?  
See that button that says "Ask a Librarian" at the top?  That goes to a real live person who knows what he or she is talking about.  So, let's say I teach 4th grade and I need help gathering primary sources about the American Revolution.  I can send an e-mail using this button and someone will get back to me - usually within 24 hours.  AND the majority of the librarians have education backgrounds, so they won't give you resources appropriate for 9th graders when you teach 4th.

2.  Download your pictures, don't just print them.

When you find a picture you want to use, you will see a "print" option to print directly from the site.  However, when you do this, the picture will print out pretty small and you'll get pages of text about the picture.  It's much better to download the picture to your computer, then print it as a full page picture from there.

3.  Check out the TPS Partners link.

See that TPS Partners link on the left?  The 4th bullet point?  The LOC offered grants to institutions who would create resources for teachers to use primary resources in their classrooms.  Clicking here will take you to the partners who've created good things for you to use.  I'd suggest focusing on partners located in your state, so that the standards will align for you.

Of course, you can explore the site as much and however you'd like.  I've just found it's easier if someone gives me a bit of a map at first to help me find some things quickly, and then I can go back and really hunt on my own.  But, for convenience and really fantastic stuff, the LOC just can't be beat.  As you begin planning for the year, think about ways and times you can use some of these lesson plans and activities in your classroom.  

The kids will LOVE it!

No comments:

Post a Comment