I’m not sure that the resources on this list are really the “Best,” but they are the ones that I’ve shared in the past related to using primary sources in lessons. Feel free to share additional suggestions. I just thought it would be useful to me, and to others, to bring them all together in one place:
Primary Source Sets come from the Digital Public Library of America. Here’s how they describe them:
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Drawing online materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States, the sets use letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide.
Primary Sources, the Library of Congress and English Learners is from Colorin Colorado.
I’ve previously written a lot about how much I like SAS Curriculum Pathways, a free site with tons of interactive lessons that students can complete and then email to their teacher. It’s recently gotten even better….They unveiled a big upgrade to the design of their site, and it looks great. Secondly, they have a nice new feature called Explore Primary Sources, which provides lots of creative lessons for students to access…primary sources.
Here’s an interactive tutorial for AP History teachers on using close reading with primary sources.
Helping Students Grapple with Primary Sources is from Middleweb.
The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents designed for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.
This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues. They learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.
They look good to me. You have to register to gain access to them (though you can get a “quick view” of them without registering), but registering is a pretty painless process. The same organization also sponsors Beyond The Bubble, a history assessment site that I havepreviously posted about…
The Victorians: Learn to work like a historian is a site from The National Archives of the United Kingdom. With a very accessible video guide, you….work like a historian investigating multiple artifacts and take notes in an online notebook. You can then save or print-out your notes. I was particularly impress by its simple, yet sophisticated, instructional guidelines, which can be easily used away from the site on just about any photo or artifact — historical or not — as a tool for higher-order thinking. The site uses the acronym “LACE”:
In other words, it goes something like this:
Look: Describe what you see
Ask: What questions do you need to ask, and answer to make sense of what you have seen?
Conclude: What do the things you have discovered from this source tell about what it was like to be…….
Expand: What more would you like to know? How can you find out?
Docs Teach from the U.S. National Archives lets you easily create online activities using primary sources. Plus, you can access the interactives that others have created, too. It’s super-easy to register. Creating the interactives is not as intuitive as I would like, but it’s still pretty easy.
“The Digital Vaults” is an entry into the vast resources of the National Archives, and allows you to use those resources to create your own movies, posters, and what it calls “Pathway Challenges” to… challenge others to find connections between a series of images, documents, and other resources you put together.
Blogging History: Interpreting Civil War-Era Primary Sources is from The New York Times Learning Network.