Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting Started With Primary Sources

Getting Started With Primary Sources

The state of Nebraska adopted new State Social Studies Standards last December 2012 and a much welcome sight with these new standards is an emphasis on having students utilize more primary source material in the class. Although I have tried to implement more historical thinking skills and primary sources material in my class, I know there is still a lot more I can do. I also know that in my leadership role as the Middle School Department Chair teachers in my department are going to need help and assistance in this area.

These new standards have really come at a great time. Although Nebraska does not have a Statewide Social Studies Assessment and we have yet to adopt the Common Core Standards,  reading and writing has become a really big emphasis at my school (areas that do have a statewide accountability assessment).  As part of my school's continuos improvement plan I know a large emphasis this coming year will be on reading. What a great time to not only get myself to help incorporate more historical thinking skills but also to make this a part of my Social Studies Department goals for the coming school year.

Back in June, I had an opportunity to attend a Statewide Social Studies Conference in Kearney to dialog with other Nebraska Social Studies educators on the new standards. This was a great opportunity to network with other teachers and also collect resources to share with my staff in my department for the coming school year.

I also had a chance to work with two teachers in my department in early July to look at revamping our District Social Studies Indicators. Although we will not adopt exactly the Nebraska State Standards, we took this opportunity to strengthen our District Social Studies Standards in the area of historical thinking skills.

I am looking forward to working with my teachers in my department and providing a variety of staff development with them during our assigned PLC (Professional Learning Community) time.
This is going to be a worthy goal this coming school year and I am hoping to share successes and failures in this endeavor on my blog.

Here are some resources I am going to be sharing with my staff as we begin to look at ways to incorporate more primary sources into our curriculum and in our summative assessments. I would love to hear from others who are using primary source material in their classroom in the comments section below.

Our Holt Textbooks: 
We do not necessarily follow the textbook chapter by chapter because of the nature of our survey class, but there are a lot of resources that we will be digging into to help develop skills in the use of Primary Sources. For some of my teachers they often times feel more comfortable working within a textbook, and I think this will be a good starting place to at least start.

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG):
The Stanford History Education Group website has become almost the standard bearer of using primary sources in the classroom. I am looking forward to pulling some activities from their site to incorporate them with our students as well as create some staff development opportunities for my teachers.

Stanford's Beyond the Bubble: http://beyondthebubble.stanford.edu/ also holds tremendous potential I feel to help us find ways to assess students ability to use these skills. 

Teaching History: 
I have bee using this website for the past few years and I am looking forward to using this website as part of our PLC's staff development to help us use more primary sources in our classes.

Smithsonian Source Teaching with Primary Sources: 
I am looking forward to using this resource also for professional development for my teachers. There are several examples of best practices I think will assist us in our goals.

DocsTeach (National Archives)
This is a great resource of not only pre-created primary sources activities but also a good place to find primary sources to use with our students.

Using Primary Sources from the Library of Congress: 
This is a website has a lot of resources and suggestions on using primary sources. I am looking forward to digging deeper with this resource with my teachers on staff development days. 

Historical Thinking Matters: 
This website (also from Stanford) has some great models I would like to have my department look at as not only possible enrichment or differentiation ideas for some of our higher ability students, but also as a model of Historical Thinking in action.

H.S.I: Historical  Scene Investigation: 
This website when I showed to two of my teacher's from my department this summer absolutely loved it. The lessons and primary sources on this website are very clearly written and easy to follow. I feel that this is going to be another good place for teachers to start this year looking at possible lessons to try with their students. 

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