May 27, 2018

Learning from the Source: The Declaration, Her Declaration, Your Declaration

Discuss the Declaration of Independence. Why was it written? What meaning did it have in 1776? What meaning does it have today? Read the Declaration of Independence and highlight words and phrases that stand out to you. Read over the words and phrases you highlighted. In what ways does the language you selected help to clarify or distill the meaning of the Declaration of Independence for you? Read over the words and phrases you highlighted again. In what other context of your life might … [Read more...]

Learning from the Source: We Shall Overcome

Students will analyze historical and contemporary primary sources to examine how citizens persevered to overcome injustice and affect change during the 1960s civil rights era and consider the lessons the first March to Selma in 1965 provides for us today. Enduring understanding: Time, place, and culture influence our perspectives on people and issues. Essential question: How can we strive to overcome injustice? Lesson materials We Shall Overcome sheet music (curator note) … [Read more...]

Timely Connections: James Madison & Slavery

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor and the author of the book The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President, discusses the dichotomies between Madison's moral views of slavery and his actions. Delving into the past, he contends, can provide us with lessons in racism for today. The tension between Madison’s aspirational beliefs and his highly constrained actions continues to be America’s own tension. Like Madison, contemporary United … [Read more...]

Timely Connections: Fake News & Civic Reasoning

Practicing primary source analysis helps students develop historical thinking skills that also happen to be very important civic literacy skills. In an article from the Fall 2017 issue of American Educator, Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) provides assessments of online civic reasoning and tips for going beyond identifying news as "fake" or "real" to understanding where information comes from and who is behind it. Social studies consultant and History Tech blogger Glenn Wiebe provides … [Read more...]

Timely Connections: Immigrant Soldiers

The United States is a nation of immigrants, many of whom have served the country in times of need. Below you will find links to news articles about immigrant soldiers, historical background resources, and related primary sources and teaching resources. How does studying sources from the past inform your understanding of the contemporary debate surrounding immigrants in the U.S. armed forces? Articles Immigrant Soldiers Win Pause Of Rules Blocking Citizenship Law360 October 30, 2017 … [Read more...]

Timely Connections: Individual Influence

The article, In a Lost Essay, a Glimpse of an Elusive Poet and Slave (The New York Times Sept. 25, 2017), tells the intriguing story of the discovery of a primary source text by Jonathan Senchyne, an assistant professor of book history at the University of Wisconsin. The essay, "Individual Influence" by North Carolina slave and poet George Moses Horton, was found in a scrapbook documenting an 1856 University of North Carolina (UNC) controversy compiled by Henry Harrisse, a 19th-century historian … [Read more...]

Literature Links: Her Right Foot

Tom Bober (@CaptainLibrary), teacher librarian extraordinaire and former teacher in residence at the Library of Congress, put together a fantastic primary source set to accompany the picture book, Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers. In a post on Knowledge Quest from the American Association of School Librarians, Tom details a plan for pairing primary source analysis with the book to help students explore how and why the the Statue of Liberty was built and to deepen their understanding of this … [Read more...]

Learning from the Source: Preamble to the Constitution Image Sequencing

Students deepen their understanding of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution with this primary source image sequencing activity. Lesson implementation Direct students to work individually, in pairs or in small groups to write a definition of the word “democracy”. When students have finished, tell them that the word “democracy” comes from two Greek words: “demos” meaning “people” and “kratos” meaning “power” or “authority.” Ask them if they now want to revise the definitions they … [Read more...]

Primary Source Learning: U.S. Constitution

Primary source lesson plans & activities American Memory Timeline: Primary Source Excerpts and Discussion Questions Related to the Constitution The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation? The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States Preamble to the Constitution Image Sequencing What was the purpose of the Preamble? Collection Connections Documents from the … [Read more...]

Teaching Now: Using Primary Sources with 21st-Century Learners

This is a guest post from veteran teacher Heather Klos, an 8th grade U.S. history teacher and the Social Studies department chair at Crownover Middle School in Corinth, Texas. As an early American history teacher, I know it is important to use primary sources effectively with my 8th grade students.  Analyzing primary sources can be very difficult for students, but it is usually my end-game when working with these documents.  I have found that breaking down the documents into manageable chunks … [Read more...]