EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

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Teaching Constant Motion: The Job of Railway Post Office Clerks with Primary Sources


Teaching with Primary Sources encourages students to...

Teacher's Guide (PDF being developed)             Student Booklet (PDF being developed)



Primary Source Analysis                    
(throughout the site look for Analyze this primary source!  that will link to ideas for analyzing primary sources)
Why teach with ORAL HISTORIES?
Oral histories uniquely present information about an event, place or time that is individualized in the mind of the speaker as well as the listener as each brings unique personal experiences and perspectives.  These recordings can provide information about major events and everyday life from the perspective of "real people" that are often not collected to share publicly.  The emotion present in a voice can tell the story behind the event.  It is important to remember that oral histories are personal memories of an individual and represent a single perspective, but why was this story created and saved?
Why teach with PHOTOGRAPHS?
Photographs are powerful tools that can activate prior knowledge about a person, place or event and spark an interest to learn more.  Teachers can effectively use photos to present historical events, people and places in a personal way that engages students.  The idea that photographs never lie has been long debated - as some argue that photographs can indeed lie when they are edited, staged or manipulated.  A photograph is taken for a reason - and that reason may be just as valuable as the photo itself!  In addition to analyzing the situation in which it was created, we should consider why a photo was saved.
Oral History Analysis Sheet Photograph Analysis Sheet
Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon!
Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon!
   
Why teach with LETTERS?
Compared to other written documents, letters are extremely personal.  They provide a glimpse at the past from an  individual point of view.  They are typically plain-spoken and full of details provided by the author.  Letters are typically written to an individual with a specific purpose and contain an honesty that media reports and official documents are missing. They also offer an opportunity to consider fact versus opinion and multiple perspectives. Who wrote this letter, why did they write it and why was it saved?
Why teach with MAPS?
Maps are visual representations of geographic, political or cultural features considered valuable by someone in a particular place and time.  A map represents a place that has been reduced in size and focuses on a particular theme.  A map reader, who may live in a different location and time, must decode symbols and mapping techniques to understand the language of the map as well as when and why this map was created.
Letter Analysis Sheet Map Analysis Sheet
Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon! Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon!
   
Why teach with DOCUMENTS?
Diaries, news clippings, forms and other print documents provide evidence of daily life at another time or place.  The documents may have been published or may be private and offer unique information about major historical events or day to day life.  They may offer learners a glimpse at evidence or data not found in texts by looking at the time and conditions in which it was created, the author, content and purpose.
Why teach with MOTION PICTURES?
Like photographs, motion pictures a powerful visual tools that can engage learners and trigger background knowledge.  Motion pictures not only record events of the past, but the passage of time by not simply representing characters and actions but bringing the actual people and events to the present.  Motion pictures were not common in the past, so who chose to make this film, who did the include, who is the intended audience and what is the purpose?
Document Analysis Sheet Motion Picture Analysis Sheet
Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon! Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon!
   
Why teach with POSTERS?
Propoganda is found in a variety of places, from fast food advertisements to regions in the midst of civil wars.  Images and slogans that originated on posters of the past are still recognized today.  Techniques used to invoke emotion and a specific reaction are everywhere.  When we look at posters as historical documents we look at the techniques used, the author, intended audience and goal.
Why teach with ARTIFACTS?
Artifacts come in many forms.  They may be tools used for a specific job, a piece of clothing worn at an event, a toy held by a individual or any item that survives from a specific place and time.  By looking at artifacts we gain an understanding of the conditions of a different time or place.  Artifacts may engage learners by triggering background knowledge and can offer opportunities to compare and contrast the past and present.
Poster Analysis Sheet Artifact Analysis Sheet
Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon! Analyze this primary source!  Example coming soon!

Inquiry


History

Critical Thinking


Arts & Humanities


More from the Teacher Page at the Library of Congress

Coming soon - ideas for teaching with primary sources that feature the materials from the Constant Motion: The Job of Railway Post Office Clerks project.