Making Choices About Primary Sources

One of the afternoon sessions at the LoC STI today focused on the question focused on how to chose which primary sources you use in a lesson. This led to some interesting conversations about considerations related to required background knowledge for interpretation, reading levels, and the desired role of the primary source in the lesson. (Hopefully the handout that we received including a list of questions to consider when selecting a primary source for use in a classroom will be posted online soon.)

Earlier in the day, we participated in a map activity to put into practice some of the strategies described in an article we read on helping students make their thinking visible. We were asked to make hypothesis based on small sections of a map we were given and then revise our hypothesis once we had seen other sections of the map.


I’ve started working on the activity I want to develop for teaching about indentured servant-hood and slavery in the colonies. I also want to work to develop language to help the colonies unit feel a bit more cohesive, so students don’t get the sense that today is “slave day” and feel it is disconnected from the rest of the content. I’m thinking about having the sort of framing questions be- What did coming to the colonies represent for different groups of people? What motivated their travel or what motivated others to bring them by force? 

After the building had closed to the public, we got to visit the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress and the Card Catalog. Yes, Virginia, there is a nerd heaven.


Important advice from the card catalog

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