Engaging students with primary sources

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  • 1. EngagingStudentswithPrimarySourcesSmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring Center

2. Engaging Students with Primary Sources1. What Are Primary Sources & Why Use Them? Introduction. 3 What is a Primary Source?. 5 Why Use Primary Sources?. 5 Primary Sources, Learning Styles, and Multiple Intelligences. 62. Documents Introduction to Documents. 8 General Documents: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 9 Newspapers: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 10 Advertisements: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 11 Tips for Reading Documents. 12 Where to Find Documents. 15 Analyzing Documents Activity: The Sioux City Ghosts . 173. Photographs Introduction to Photographs. 24 Photographs: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 25 Tips for Reading Photographs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Where to Find Photographs. 29 Analyzing Photographs Activity: A Salmon Cannery. 304. Oral Histories Introduction to Oral Histories. 35 Oral Histories: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 36 Tips for Analyzing Recorded and Transcribed Oral History Interviews. 37 Where to Find Oral Histories. 39 Analyzing Oral Histories Activity:Spud Campbell, Liberty Ships, and The Second World War. 40 Creating an Oral History Source: Tips for Designing and Conducting an Interview. 44 Other Data to Collect During Oral History Interviews. 455. Objects Introduction to Objects. 46 Objects: Strengths and Limitations Chart. 47 Tips for Reading Objects. 48 Where to Find Objects. 52 Analyzing Objects Activity: An 18th-Century Fat Lamp. 546. Bibliography and Web Sites featuring Primary Sources. 59Table of Contents 3. SmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring CenterEngaging Students with Primary Sources3Primary sources are the pieces ofevidence that historians use to learnabout people, events, and everyday lifein the past. Just like detectives, historianslook at clues, sift through evidence, andreach conclusions. Students can useprimary sources, too. By focusing on theevidence itselfdocuments, objects,photographs, and oral historiesstudentscan get a glimpse into the past beyondwhat a textbook can provide. Introducingyour classes to primary sources andmaking them a regular part of classroomlessons help student develop criticalthinking and deductive reasoning skillsthat will be useful throughout their lives.This reference guide is designed tohighlight the benefits of using primarysource materials in any classroom and toprovide you, the teacher, with practicalsuggestions and examples of how to dothis. It also includes a bibliography andlinks to other sites on the Internet thatfeature primary source materials.Whether in a museum or in theclassroom, the study of primary sourcesis crucial to the study of history. Theyprovide tangible links to the past thathelp studentsbuild personalconnectionsto history. Yet,primary sourcesneed not belimited tohistory class. Amath class canexamine a slide rule and discuss theinvention and impact of calculators. Ascience class can study a page from afamous scientists logbook or journal andget insight into the thought process. Aliterature class reading John Steinbeckcan examine photos by Dorothea Lange.Primary Sources are an effective way tocommunicate the look, feel, and spiritof a different time.What ArePrimary Sources& Why Use Them?IntroductionWhether in amuseum or inthe classroom,the study ofprimary sourcesis crucial to thestudy of history. 4. SmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring CenterEngaging Students with Primary Sources4The National Museum of AmericanHistory is committed to helping teachersuse primary sources effectively in theclassroom. The Museum providesopportunities for teachers and theirstudents to make personal connectionsto Americas history through its Web site,which features various primary sourcematerials and teacher manuals, on-siteprogramming that focuses on collections,and teacher workshops.http://www.historyexplorer.si.eduSections 2 through 5 of thisguide provide classroom-readyactivities designed to providepractical lessons on usingprimary sources. Each activityfocuses on an object or objects from thecollections of the National Museum ofAmerican History.General Outline of Activities:1. Project or hand out copies ofthe introduction for each type ofresource and read it as a class.2. Use the charts as part of abrainstorming activity in whichstudents define, give examples of,and compile lists of, strengths andweaknesses for that type of resource.3. Use the tip sheet as a work sheet toanswer questions based on looking atimages of the provided objects.4. End the activity with a class discussionin which the students compare theiranswers to background informationprovided for the teacher.5. The introduction, charts, and tipsheets from each section can thenbe copied and given to the studentsto keep in their notebooks.What Are Primary Sources& Why Use Them? 5. SmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring CenterEngaging Students with Primary Sources5Develop Skills:Primary sources help students developand refine cognitive, investigative, deductivereasoning, and problem-solving skills. Studentsdraw conclusions from information they havefound through deciphering primary sourcematerials.Address Various Learning Styles:Through use of a variety of primary sources,teachers address the whole spectrum oflearning styles. For example, oral histories for theauditory learner, and photographs and objectsfor the visual learners. Students experienceprimary sources according to each studentsown learning style.Appeal to Students:Students of any age find primary sourcesappealing because they are tangible and real.Make Learning Active:Primary sources engage students in activelearning. By drawing their own conclusions fromprimary sources, students construct meaning anddirect their own learning.Provide Different Perspectives:Different kinds of primary sources providestudents with varying perspectives on a personor event and offer a sense of balance.What is a Primary Source?Why Use Primary Sources?Benefits for Students and TeachersPrimary Source:A first-hand, original account, record, or evidence about a person, place, object, or an event.Oral histories, objects, photographs, and documents such as newspapers, ledgers, censusrecords, diaries, journals, and inventories, are primary sources.Secondary Source:An account, record, or evidence derived from an original or primary source.Textbooks are secondary sources. 6. SmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring CenterEngaging Students with Primary Sources6Using primary sources in the classroom enables you to reach all typesof learners. Howard Gardner and others developed a highly accepted model of multipleintelligences. The application of primary sources in the classroom provides teachers with anavenue in which to address the eight forms of intelligence:Linguistic:Think in words, using language to express and understand complexmeanings; reading, writing, speaking skillsLogical/Mathematical:Think of cause-and-effect connections and understand relationshipsamong actions, objects, or ideas; problem solving, calculation skillsBodily-Kinesthetic:Think in movement; physical skills such as balance, dance, acting,and working with ones handsSpatial:Think in pictures and perceive visual world accurately; artistic designand construction skillsMusical:Think in sounds, melodies, rhythms, and rhymes; musical ability,vocal and instrument abilityInterpersonal:Think about and understand other people; group interaction skillsand sensitivity to peoples motives, intentions, and moodsIntrapersonal:Think about and understand oneself; skill in self-assessmentNaturalist:Think in terms of the natural world, understanding patterns of lifeand natural forces; skill in animal and plant carePrimary Sources, Learning Styles,and Multiple Intelligences 7. SmithsonianNational Museum of American HistoryKenneth E. Behring CenterEngaging Students with Primary Sources7Lessons using primary sources appealto multiple intelligences:According to the multiple intelligences theory,everyone possesses each intelligence to onedegree or another. A well-developed lessonaddresses more than one intelligence. By using avariety of primary sources, teachers can ensurethat they address all intelligences. Below aresome examples: Students in a literature class reading a novelset in the 1920s listen to the music of theera and learn the Fox Trot, Charleston, orother dances. (Linguistic, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic) Students in a geometry class studying circlesinvestigate photographs of different typesof high-wheel bicycles from the 1870s and1880s. Students use rings of different sizes todiscover why the bikes were designed withone big wheel in the front and a small wheelat the back. (Logical-Mathematical, Spatial) Students in a science class interview a localscientist about his/her work, learn how toprepare for oral history interviews, andvideotape the interview for the class archives.(Linguistic, Intrapersonal) Students in a geography class usephotographs of various types of architectureand blueprints of buildings to drawconclusions about how architects adaptbuildings to specific climates and geographicfeatures. (Spatial, Logical-Mathematical,Naturalist) Students studying the moon read booksabout the moon (Linguistic), calculateits distance from the earth (Logical-Mathematical), examine photos of thedifferent phases of the moon (Spatial); listento songs about the moon (Musical); reflecton their earliest childhood memories of themoon (Intrapersonal), build a model of themoon revolving around the earth (Bodily-Kinesthetic); conduct a moon-watch viatelescope (Interpersonal); and/or investigatethe geographic terrain of the moon(Naturalist).[from Thomas Armstrong,www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm]Primary Sources, Learning Styles,and Mul