The tools you provide your students in the first weeks of school will be the ones that have the greatest impact on your students' success. Introduce them to valuable learning skills, and help them to create their own learning tool box that can guide them through their academic careers!
One super tool is the skill of analysis. More importantly, teaching them to use and analyze primary sources can integrate two important skills into one! Analyzing primary sources will also open their eyes to the many different perspectives in historic and current events that will help them to become better citizens now and in the future.
What's in Your Tool Box?
- Always start with what is seen, heard, etc. This first step is crucial for setting the stage for more critical analysis. In addition, every student can answer this basic question, requiring their participation and giving them confidence.
- Most primary sources should be open to interpretation. This is a hard one for most teachers, especially in this day and age of testing, where the businessmen who create our assessments seem to think there is always only one right answer to everything in life! Buck this! We each see things differently, and the value in this is in the PROCESS, not the result!
- Develop questions in a spiraling format with the goal of reaching a critical level of understanding in every analysis. Again, there will often NOT be a key for the right answer!
- MOST IMPORTANT: Let your students do the work! They WILL, without fail, call you over to ask if they are right or what you think. Resist the urge to interfere! Interpretation is in the eye of the analyzer, and you must let it be their own work, right or wrong!
And my newest addition... A Full Bundle of my Primary Source Handouts from the Civil War through Modern Day. It's an 84 page bundle covering key topics from the mid-1800s through current U.S. events. What a great way to start the year!
What else is should be in your tool box? Hmmm... we will see!