Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Primary sources in the history classroom: That is the reason we teach

Posted on: August 21, 2011

A history teacher in Louisiana  incorporated primary source photographs, newspapers, and maps into a lesson during the first week of school.   Students were required to read Killer Angels, Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize winning  account of the Battle of Gettysburg  over the summer. She wrote:

NY Tribune, 7/01/1863

I allowed my first period class today to start the anticipatory set I had assigned for homework in the last few minutes of class.  They got so into it!  Between mocking Burnside’s facial hair, talking about the names, talking about the autographs – they really – without knowing it – started to get excited about primary documents!  It was great!  . . . . . .[Later that day]  the first fire drill of the year occurred.  As we were standing outside, waiting for the all clear, the vice principal came over to tell me that some of my students were gathered together and were talking about all the cool stuff they had learned that morning about Gettysburg!  I swear I nearly cried. 
That is the reason we teach!

(Used with permission from Robin Vogt, Newman School, New Orleans,)

Learn more about Teaching with Primary Sources, an online class for teachers of all content areas and students of all ages.
Register Online: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/register.cfm
Comments from past students

New York Tribune, July 1, 1863.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress


1 Response to "Primary sources in the history classroom: That is the reason we teach"

Thanks for sharing this cool story. It is always exciting to hear about teachers making the effort to engage their students with history making it both relevant and real.

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