Teaching with Primary Source in Social Studies

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Teaching with primary source has become more prevalent within the classroom. Due to the internet, primary sources have become more accessible and have provided enhanced teaching opportunities within social studies.

Benefits of Primary Source

Evidence has proved that students do not retain memorized facts and dates very well. What they will remember are first-person accounts that emotionally connect them to the subject. Students remember what they find interesting. That retention can make all the difference.

Unfortunately, textbooks don’t provide an immersive experience, just details. Fact and figures do not provide meaning so students have a difficult time connecting with the information.

Without a primary source, there would be no credibility and false information would be presented as facts. Primary source provides opportunities to tell real accounts and stories from history. Without it, there would be a lack of multiple perspectives and viewpoints.

Finding primary sources can also be a time-consuming process and once found, can require intensive lesson planning. Common Core, C3 and other skills standards covering social studies instruction require students to view a variety of multimedia sources. Studies Weekly is unique in that we provide thousands of primary source materials ranging images, works of art, diaries, videos and more. Teachers can find all of our primary source materials on their online account.

Bringing History to Life

Not only do we lay out the facts, but we tell the stories of history. We let the people in history tell their own story through primary sources. As well, we paint a picture of each event so teachers can relate it to what students are doing today. As mentioned above, students remember information better when they are emotionally connected to the subject.

In addition to primary sources, we offer lesson plans and other resources to help teachers relay these stories. Using creativity in conjunction with primary sources can improve students’ conception of the event and time period. These activities, for example, could be creating a narrative or comic, acting out a skit, having a debate, or hosting a mock election.

Let us know how you use primary sources within your lessons in the comments below. For more information about primary sources, click here.

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By Studies Weekly