There are so many advantages to using technology in the history classroom, one of the most notable of which is the easy access to primary source documents. When students are given access to primary source documents, history takes on a whole new meaning as they become investigators, detectives, and analysts as they seek to create meaning from authentic documents and images from the past. In turn, engagement will increase and students will gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the events of history as they interact with the primary sources and create their own meaning instead of studying someone else’s interpretations. The Library of Congress offers a multitude of free primary sources for teachers and students, and also describes the advantage of using them in education: “Examining primary sources gives students a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past. Helping students analyze primary sources can also guide them toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.”
The use of primary sources is not limited only to the history classroom; primary sources lend themselves beautifully to cross-curricular lessons by stimulating inferencing skills, inspiring written and oral communication, and other language arts skills. Teaching students to be critical thinkers by examining primary sources also meets one of the foundational requirements (the 4 C’s – communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking) of the Common Core State Standards. There are many places on the internet to find primary sources, but before jumping in, it might be wise to read this blog that offers several supporting sites and technologies to help maximize the effectiveness of the use of primary sources in your classroom.
Byrne, Richard. (2013, April 22). Getting kids engaged with primary sources. [Blog entry]. Retrieved from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/04/opinion/cool-tools/getting-kids-engaged-with-primary-sources-cool-tools/?buffer_share=2972d
The Library of Congress Website. Using primary sources. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/