Over 250 Ideas for Using Primary Sources and Technology from NCSS

Well we started with 10 ideas and once we multiplied it with primary sources we loved, and great tools to use, we ended up with over 250 ideas for using primary sources in the classroom! History, Art, Historic Preservation, Science...it's all there!

We are thrilled to be presenting at the National Council for Social Studies (#NCSS14) and even happier that we can share our love of primary sources and technology with participants and friends at the conference in Boston.

We are deeply proud to be part of the team from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Regional Center in Colorado who are presenting in Boston and will be tweeting out resources this week (and next) to showcase ideas on how to merge Web 2.0 and Social Media tools with the rich collections and digital resources from the Library of Congress.

If you don't know about the Library of Congress TPS program check out their links here: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/

Here's a list of great tools and ideas! Check some of them out and bring non-fiction, primary sources, critical thinking, and 21st century skills into your classroom!Check out the links below for social studies, literacy, student engagement, science, math, art, architecture, and historic preservation ideas using primary sources from the Library of Congress (LOC.gov )

Enjoy...and ask questions and contribute your thoughts at #psgeek and todaysmeet.com/psgeek. We will be answering and continuing to share! 

Teaching Strategies: 

We brainstormed, piloted, tried them out, and worked together on harnessing the power of Web 2.0 Tools and Social Media to bring learning alive with primary sources! Each link will take you to a page filled with resources and ideas using that particular tool and primary sources you select. 

Take it Live with LiveBinder


Ok, Livebinders are kind of amazing!!!  So think about the binders you have in your classroom that hold all of your resources.  It’s just like that, but web based!!  You can access those resources from any computer, anywhere!  You need to create an account, but it’s F-R-E-E!    You can view other people’s binders as well!  

Using This Tool With Primary Sources:

Click on this link to find a Livebinder full of lesson plans, rubrics and student examples that utilize primary sources in all grades K-8.  

Livebinder lessons, rubrics and student examples K-8


Skype: Expertise with Primary Sources and Scholars


Ways to use this tool with Primary Sources:

  • Skype with a curator or librarian or expert on a primary source to learn more and have your questions answered.

  • When studying Archaeology, Skype can be a great way to speak to an expert in the field and bring them into the classroom. Although stduents on a dig many not be able to see the artifacts in the field, they can experience some of the same results with the interaction.

  • Use Skype with a curator to "see" artifacts that have meaning to your unit of study

  • Use Skype to document oral histories. Consider creating oral histories of people discussing their heritage and history, but also of them documenting historic places and what a place looks like today and how it has changed ( Or not! ) from the past.

  • Use Skype to document a historic speech or event in real time so a classroom can participate in an event and then create their own primary and secondary sources.

  • Mystery Skype allows you to sign up and skype with a classroom in a mystery location.  Students have to use their geography skills, maps, Google Earth and critical thinking to try to determine where the other class is from.  In my class, I have specific jobs for each student, map reader, google map reader, photographer, questions, answers, etc.  Each table group gets an atlas, computer and has to come up with at least one quality question that makes sense with the clues that they hear to narrow down the location.  Once they determine the location they can ask the other class questions and discuss real world events and primary sources!

Blabberize: Adding Voice to Primary Sources


Ways to Use This Tool With Primary Sources:

  • Metzgar Farm Examples  We partnered with a local historical farm and had our kids meet with the local experts to find out more about the farm, animals who live there and plants that grow on this farm.  The students created a Blabberize for each animal that lives on the farm and we placed a QR code on the Metzger Farm signs to lead community members back to the student-created site to learn more about the farm, animals and plants they might meet on the farm!

  • Have students use the mouth tool in Blabberize to tell the story of a primary source in first person.  They can “become” an historic figure and tell about their motivations, speeches or actions during their lifetime.

  • Have students use Blabberize to give a speech from a particular point of view after they have analyzed and synthesized multiple documents.

  • Have students take on the role of a historic building and have the building tell a tale of the inhabitants and history to use as a way to attract visitors to the historic site.

  • Students can also tell the story of a group using multiple mouth tools.  Tell the story of a Civil War Battle from multiple points of view.

*** One note on Blabberize - we have found that it works best if you use Internet Explorer as your browser.

Tweet Away!


Ways to Use This Tool With Primary Sources:

  • Have students collect a series of primary sources which highlight an important day in history (Today in History is a good example from the LOC.gov site.  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/today.html ) and create a Twitter post using the primary and secondary sources to share with their audience to let them know what is important about a particular day. If this was done with planning, these videos could be shared throughout the school year as part of announcements etc.

  • Students have to be critical thinkers in order to promote or teach about a primary source in 130 characters.  Promote great writing and authentic audience!

  • Speed dat with a primary source asking questions of the primary source. Assign one tea of students to research the primary source and take the role of the people in an image or text selection. Then have the rest of the class use Twitter to ask questions of the "primary source." Students assigned to that primary source can then answer them through #twitter.

  • Use Twitter to brainstorm an appropriate caption for a primary source after analysis.

  • Use Twitter to call out unclear vocabulary in a primary source.

  • Students can share their other Web 2.0 creations through twitter to expand knowledge and exposure to primary sources.  Share your Animoto about the presidential elections for example!

  • Use Twitter as a backchannel in the classroom collecting ideas about a set of primary sources. Use those ideas to formulate a context for a topic that fits the primary sources.

  • Use Twitter and a primary source and question away posting on twitter with a determined hashtag that allows the class to review questions for next steps in researching.