Teaching History in the Classroom
Donovan School (Ann Arbor, Mich.) Miss Lily E. Goodhew teacher, Feb. 1911. From Ann Arbor, Michigan photograph collection.
The "Teaching History in the Classroom" guide is meant to facilitate greater use of archival resources in the classroom. It should be noted that while this guide was developed for grade school teachers, these materials have broad significance and relevance to students of all ages. Educators are encouraged to use the guide creatively to meet their specific needs in the classroom.
Each group of images is accompanied by some introductory text, but the intention is that students will focus on the images themselves. Educators are encouraged to click on images to access larger versions. The images can then be expanded, downloaded, printed, or presented for study in a variety of formats. Some of the topics have more textual images than others. While these materials can be read by older students, younger students may benefit from educators selecting a small passage for study or reading the materials aloud. For each topic, a list of questions have been composed to get students thinking about the images. Most of the questions are open ended with the intention that students think critically about what they are seeing.
A majority of the resources provided are considered primary sources. According to the Libary of Congress, "Primary sources are the raw materials of history - original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience." The value of teaching with primary sources is that history becomes accessible and relatable. While reading a textbook can provide a valuable road map to history, primary sources can be the landmarks that students stop to admire along the way. Primary sources empower students to analyze and interpret history for themselves. Students should be encouraged to ask questions of the items they look at, such as:
- Who produced this item? Why?
- Whom was this item intended for? Why?
- Whose story is this item telling?
- What can I learn from this item?
- What questions do I have after looking at this item?
By asking these questions and thinking critically about primary sources students will gain a richer understanding of what history is and what it means to them.
At the bottom of each page other resources are provided that relate to the topic at hand. These are some resources that teachers interested in primary sources, Michigan history, and local history might find useful.
- Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now
- Ann Arbor District Library: Making of Ann Arbor
- Ann Arbor District Library: Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit
- Students on Site
- Bentley Historical Library: Film and Video Preservation Project
- Michigan Historical Center Online Exhibits
- Seeking Michigan
- National Archives and Records Administration: Teachers
- Library of Congress: Teachers
This research tool was created by Emma Hawker, MSI 2013.