Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Learning

Student Discovery Set

Student Discovery Set

I’m excited to see the new Student Discovery Sets from the Library of Congress Teachers Page and available free through Itunes/IBooks.

Teachers familiar with the Library’s Primary Source Sets will recognize the topics and set organization. They will  be excited about  the interactive capabilities the 6 eBook sets provide. Teachers new to these resources will quickly see the possibilities enhancing teaching and learning.  Students can individually view primary source photos, maps and documents, and listen to audio. They can engage with the artifacts by zooming or simply tapping on the image to draw or analyze. Analysis prompts use the familiar Observe, Reflect, Question and Investigate prompts and a place to write.  Analysis notes can be copied/pasted into other apps; screenshots of images or drawings images can be saved to photos for future use.

Each set includes a page with  a thumbnail  version of the primary source and citations.  The Teachers Guides that have teaching ideas and additional resources are not included in the eBook versions of the sets, but remain available through The Teachers Page version.

These new eBooks escalate  LOC Classroom Materials to a different level, providing intuitive, engaging learning opportunities for students to learn individually following teacher introduction. They are easy to find in the iBooks Store; simply search for Student Discovery Sets. Learn more or access the ebooks directly at www.loc.gov/teachers/student-discovery-sets/.

The six sets offer learning activities for all ages and a variety of content areas.

  • Immigration
  • ’The Dust Bowl
  • Symbols of the United States
  • Understanding the Cosmos
  • The Constitution
  • The Harlem Renaissance

Free Ebooks from the Library of Congress Put History in Students’ Hands, Teachers Page Blog Post, September 2014.

Classroom Ready Materials on the Library of Congress Teachers Page, Internet@Schools September 2013.
More about Primary Source Sets and other materials for teachers.

Making Learning Interactive (The New Media Center, Column,  Internet @ Schools, March/April 2015)


A photo of middle school age students wearing headphones, viewing action on a small screen and looking like they are having fun was haunting me.  I had to find it. I did!  I also found a photo of four students sitting at a media center table working with books and notebooks; in the background are other students with headsets and small screens.   The big deal?  The headphone had giant foam ear pieces, the plugs are 1/4″.  The small screen is an individual filmstrip viewer/cassette player and the photos were taken in 1971.

It doesn’t matter if the students were enjoying a recreational filmstrip about cars (I can still picture those boxed sets of books and filmstrips and cassettes) or viewing and listening to a story about Zeus. (I loved that collaborative mythology project with a language arts teacher).   What does matter is that the students enjoyed opportunities to experience multimedia in the media center, a relatively radical offering to many staff.   Thinking back, I know I’ve always felt things were right when the media center was full of varied activities appealing to a variety of student needs.  Those early risks and adventures influenced my interests in all of the opportunities that technology offers our students.   What  has influenced you?


I am no longer providing any direct instruction to elementary or middle school students;  I miss those opportunities to remind them how they can easily how to use new computer applications just by remembering how they used the same skill in another application.  A speaker at a conference listed skills she expects studentes to learn, use, and apply as they combine their skill sets using PowerPoint and Kidspiration to complete a multimedia projects. There are several  transferrable skills in the speaker’s list:

  • text box
  • font size, style and colors
  • background colors
  • group and frame an object
  • order and layer objects
  • make a picture or object transparent!

Thanks for the inspiration!  If we teach students–and teachers who teach students–to us and apply transferrable skills they will acquire those skills that will take them a long ways as new applications come along.  Little steps can take us far.

Today I learned how to use SlideShare, one of those web 2.0 tools I had considered but never used until a teacher required about alternative ways to display student work on our school web site. Bingo! Our content mangement system provided simple directions for embedding SlideShare code; Umm. . . that looked just like adding the Picture Trail Photo Flick code we embed already, and there are tags, too. Now I just had to try SlideShare. A few minutes later I had a PowerPoint show available for public viewing on our web site.
Why the quick success? 1. I had an immediate need to learn. 2. I have transferable skills.

Do you remember the first time you learned how to copy/paste? I do and I was terrified I’d mess up.   Highlighting, using key combinations and watching text disappear to only reappear seemed so challenging in the Apple IIe, floppy disk days. Fortunately I had a kind, patient person helping me.  Of course that’s a long time ago. Now every new web 2.0 tool or technology application we learn to use comes easier if we think about what we already know and how we can apply it in a new situation.

Minutes after my initial experience with SlideShare I saw a 4th grade student creating a “Memories of 4th grade” PowerPoint presentation.  He  downloaded photos from our web site photo gallery and made a slide show without adult direction because he has transferable skills.  Next week we’ll move his “Memories” to Slide Share and embed the code on our web site.

By the way; this year’s 4th grade students caught on to the flying penguins gimick quickly and moved on to their research and PowerPoint slide shows even quicker and with greater success than the class a year ago.  They do better every year because they have transferable skills.

Transferable  skills belong in every student’s “learning hw to learn” toolkit. As media specialists we should keep building our transferable skills toolkkit and so we can help students and teachers build theirs.

The pace of change accelerates . Abram’s analogy of equating learning something new to exercise is perfect. Find time to exercise and learn! Search iTunes; listen to an informative podcast when you walk. Five minutes into this THING I’ve picked up some ideas. Learning by doing.

In Away from Icebergs Rick Anderson said ” it no longer makes sense to collect information products as if they were hard to get. They aren’t. In fact, it may no longer make sense to “collect” in the traditional sense at all. . . . we’ve seen a 55 percent drop in circulation rates over the past twelve years, making it harder and harder to justify the continued buildup of a large “just in case” print collection. ”

Our new high school media center and “revamped collection” are a perfect example as we discuss the best use of our funds. It makes sense to purchase more online subscriptions, web 2.0 tools, and lots of what the students do read–the hot teen lit and graphic novels. It’s tough to educate the patrons Rick Anderson speaks of when old technology sometimes makes it difficult to even get to the web 1.0 stuff. But there are glimmers of hope — and signs moving ahead. Our multiple labs, bistro tables, comfy seating and spacious setting are step 1. We see things change — and see the students learn with Google Maps and other tools unheard of when we planned the new media center . . .looking forward to media center 2.0 postings.

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