Saturday, January 3, 2009

Teaching with Primary Documents

An excellent way to teach history is to use primary documents as your "textbook." The Internet will not only supply you with the source material, but you can even find lesson plans and instructions for using them. Here are some of my favorite resources:

How to Use Primary Sources: I recommend that you try this first to help your students learn to find primary sources, what they are, the types of primary sources available, and how to analyze them.

Teaching with documents. This resource contains reproducible copies of documents as well as worksheets and lesson plans related to American history from 1754 - the present.

American Journeys. This resource contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration. Read the words of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. 150 rare books, original manuscripts, travel narratives, maps, charts, drawings, photographs. Includes:
  • Historical highlights. From Leif Ericson landing in North America in ca. 1000 A.D. to 1806 when Zebulon Pike reaches the Colorado peak that bears his name. 
  • Lesson plans - a source book on how to choose a topic and how to deal with sensitive content.
  • Sample lessons: One on the children of Eric the Red, the Viking Explorer, and the other showing how religion played a key part in the lives and ideas of Europeans in the early years of their experiences in the "New World." Recommended for 8th grade and up.
Puzzled by the past - quizzes on U.S. history.

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