USING PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES Alec Childress Jonesboro High School Alec.firstname.lastname@example.org
What are primary-source documents? ■These documents are often first-hand testimonies or direct evidence of the topic being discussed or researched. ■They are often created by witnesses that were there when the event occurred.
Why use primary documents? ■It engages students. By letting them see first hand accounts from people from who were actually there which allows them to relate to the events better rather than just reading a list of facts. Actually seeing a picture or video is also a great way to gain the focus and attention of certain students, in particular visual learners. Having students conduct research to find certain information through the use of these documents is also motivating. It also just gives them something new to look at other than their textbook. ■Continued…
Why use primary documents? (Continued) ■It cultivates critical thinking skills. By finding out how the document they’re using relates to the subject they’re covering and how to properly apply the information. The way people perceive things affects the way they tell what happened later on so students will have to learn how use those thinking skills to compare accounts and documents to determine what exactly happened. It constructs knowledge. Combining what they already know with the new information allows for a better and deeper understanding of their knowledge. ■Continued…
Why use primary documents? (Continued) ■Using these documents also helps with other skills that are key to success in other subjects and life in general. It increases reading comprehension. It helps develop better studying skills. It teaches how to research a topic and how to objectively compare various sources and points of view. This is vital because one day they’re going to have to learn how to think on their own and come to their own conclusions without the aid of a teacher. This ability helps make them a more productive citizen and is the overall goal of social studies. In my opinion the most educating experience one can have is seeing something through someone else’s own eyes.
What’s wrong with textbooks? ■Overall there isn’t much wrong with textbooks. ■They’re a great source of basic facts and information and a really good starting point for better understanding history. ■However, the main issue with them is that they can be tedious and mundane to students. ■This causes them to be much less focused and engaged which prevents them from learning as well as they should. ■They also have a tendency to not give multiple points of view.
Can you use both? ■Absolutely! ■In fact they should both be utilized if at all possible. ■As mentioned in the last slide, textbooks are a great way to introduce all of the basic facts and to get the ball rolling. ■Primary documents can then be used to expand on that background information to paint a bigger and better picture. ■Trade books can also be used in conjunction with both, but that’s a topic for another day.
What are some ways you can integrate this in your class? ■There are many ways to incorporate primary-source documents in your lessons. ■You can create full lessons around them with no other sources of information. ■You can have students use them as well as their textbook and internet to complete various assignments. ■Or you can just simply do basic activities with them. ■The next three slides will give you some ideas.
United States History Lesson ■This lesson is entitled The Atlanta Campaign of 1864: The Camera at War. ■In this lesson students will learn about Union General William T. Sherman and his attack on Atlanta, Georgia and what it’s impact was on the Civil War. ■After teaching about the battle, students will then study the images that were captured by Matthew Brady Studios before and after the attack. ■Their assignment is to place the pictures in chronological order using the information they learned in class as well as anything they can find online through other documents.
United States History Activity ■This activity is about the Space Race and the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. ■Students will be shown the original NBC news broadcast of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s landing on the moon. ■They will then either use paper and pencil or go to a computer and use Word to type up a reaction letter acting as if they were there watching it live and how they would have felt about it.
World History Lesson ■This lesson centers around the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. ■Prior to this lesson students will have learned about the Cold War between the Untied States and Soviet Union as well as East and West Germany. ■During this lesson they will look at pictures of early construction of the wall in 1961, pictures from the decades the wall was up, and pictures of the wall coming down in 1989. ■They will also watch news clips and read interviews and articles about why the wall was constructed and ultimately torn down. ■Their assignment is to write a two-page summary of all the information they have gathered.
In Conclusion… Primary-source documents are… First-hand accounts by people who were there Books, videos, pictures, etc. They should be used because... Engage students Help develop critical thinking skills Build more knowledge Show how to objectively compare multiple points of view These documents can also be used with textbooks and other materials in lessons. They don’t have to always be a substitute for the textbook. They’re a good tool because they help paint a better picture and help students relate to the events better and thus be more interested and invested.
References ■National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) ■Yale.edu (http://www.yale.edu/collections_collaborative/primarysources/primarysources.htm l)http://www.yale.edu/collections_collaborative/primarysources/primarysources.htm l ■Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html)http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html ■http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/atlanta-campaign.htmlhttp://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/atlanta-campaign.html