By Lois Grasso, Instructional Coach, Marsh Creek 6GC
Primary sources provide a window into the past— documents, photographs, songs produced by people who lived during a previous time. While primary sources are not new to teaching, how these resources can be integrated into instruction certainly is changing. That is what I saw demonstrated at a recent instructional technology conference (PETE&C 2017).
Specifically, try using primary sources in conjunction with digital storytelling tools including Stop Motion, iMovie, Comic Life or Book Creator to encourage students to interpret what it was like to be alive during a past era.
The BEST High-Quality Primary Source Web Sites*
- Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History – offers access to over 60,000 primary source documents, photographs, maps, and more. Searchable by era, theme, and lesson idea.
- Smithsonian Source – provides Document-Based Questions and Primary Source Videos, aggregated by era.
- Smithsonian Learning Lab – more than a million resources made available online by the Smithsonian Institute.
- Library of Congress – search through millions of primary sources, from recordings, books, photographs, maps, and manuscripts.
- 100 Milestone Documents – United States history from 1776 to 1965, these documents are some of the most vital documents in our nation’s story.
So the next time your students are researching primary sources, don’t hand them a worksheet with questions to answer. Instead, ask them to use the primary source to tell a story using apps like StopMotion, iMovie, ComicLife, or Book Creator to answer a guiding question such as “How did the settlers of Jamestown struggle to survive?”
*More information and examples available in the free iBook entitled “Interpreting Primary Sources with Stop Motion.” Joseph Welch, iBooks. 2016. https://itun.es/us/ecXzdb.l