Friday, April 11, 2014

Power of the Spoken Word

Primary Sources are a great way to connect students to major historical events. One downside of course can be the reading level of some of these texts. Here are eight great audio resources to help students connect with the spoken word that I have used and really like.
A collection of thousands of hours of audio. Check out the U.S. President's Gallery to hear various presidential speeches from Benjamin Harrison to Barack Obama.  Listen here to President Theodore Roosevelt explain why the Big Bosses resist the Progressive Era
This website really is a treasure trove of resources for you and your students if you are studying U.S. Presidents. Check out their Presidential Gallery as well as their Speech Archive. For examples of using this resource with your students, look at their Presidential Classroom. I found this interaction between President John F. Kennedy and head of NASA James Webb discussing the possibility of a lunar landing fascinating.
This is a great resource to listen to former slaves discuss what life was like on the Plantation. I would encourage students to also use the transcripts. I usually have students listen to several excerpts from this collection as part of their study on Plantation life in 1850's.

This resource can be a very helpful resource and tool for multiple reasons (Check out their Wayback Machine to view the changing nature of the Internet for example) You can also find several audio clips that can be helpful in students examination of a historical period by searching their extensive database. Here is a Fireside Chat of President Roosevelt from December 29th, 1940 discussing the growing concerns in Europe that could be used to discuss American Neutrality and Roosevelt's concerns in Asia and Europe. I have also used several excerpts of speeches given my Malcolm X from Famous Speeches of Malcolm X to use as a compare/contrast with speeches given by Dr. King such as his I Have A Dream.

American Rhetoric is a great resource to find famous speeches in history. Check out their Top 100 Speeches to find audio and transcripts of famous speeches in history.
Just like it can be important to use short excerpts from written primary documents, it is also important to use short sections of audio instead of having students listen to an entire 20-40 minute speech. Audacity  is a great free audio editing tool thank makes it easy to trim selected audio sections you want students to listen to into manageable 1-2 minute excepts. 

Most of the resources I listed above are audio recordings of speeches. Librovox is more designed as a free Audio Book Tool for books in Public Domain, but there are some great audio clips that can be used in your classroom. Their Catalog has a growing list of books that get constantly updated and can be searched by author, title, genre, & language. Their US Historical Documents Section has audio readings of the Articles of Confederation, US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address. For students who need to listen to the text as they read along, this can be a useful tool to help struggling readers engage with the text of these famous documents.
Like Librivox, this is resource for Free Audio Books (that are no longer protected from Copyright) from the University of South Florida. Some possible History Related Titles that could be used in your class could be: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , American History:Speeches and Essays , The Last of the Mohicans , Little Women , The Scarlet Letter , The Souls of Black Folks ,Uncle Tom's Cabin (Told to the Children) , The War of the Worlds , The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , and many many more.

These are some of my favorite audio resources to use with students to connect to the spoken word. Do you have any that should also be included? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

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