Friday, February 8, 2008

Classroom Activities Using Old Photos

My love of primary source documents started innocently enough about 10 years ago. I went to a Classroom Connect Conference in California--my first. I signed up for a workshop presented by Jamie McKenzie, I don't remember what the workshop was about but I remember the activity that started my love of primary sources. He showed us this picture of the Coal Breaker Boys (from LOC) and said "Discuss who the leader is in this group". I thought to myself "Wow!"

Old photographs can make great focus activities, journal prompts, discussion starters or homework. Take a look at this picture of a woman cooking. How does her life differ from yours? your mother? your grandmother? Show your parents or grandparents this picture and see what they have to say. I've used this photo in dozens of workshops. Each time I ask "How does this woman's life differ from yours?" I always get the same answer "she cooks---I don't!" (From Library of Congress: A member of the Wilkins family…Tallyho, Granville County, North Carolina)

Here's another one. How does this store differ from Walmart? What could you buy at Walmart that you can't buy at this store? What can you buy at this store that you couldn't buy at Walmart? (From Library of Congress General store interior, Moundville, Alabama)

President Roosevelt had opinions about children and apartment buildings. Read This article "Why the American Child Is Not Welcome in Apartment Buildings". What do you think about his opinions? (Ohio Historical Society)

Telephones have changed a whole lot since 1943. Discuss the evolution of the telephone. (National Archives The Way We Work)

All you have to do to find images that will inspire discussion or reflection is go to the Library of Congress or The National Archives or the thousands of other historical societies on the Web. The Library of Congress has even placed images on flickr!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mark Adams--Guest Blogger

Hi, I am a guest blogger invited by Mrs. Bosch to post about the collection of primary sources online at the Truman Presidential Library.

I work as the Education Director and Webmaster at the Library and wanted to share the primary sources we have online. We also have a large collection of lesson plans and encourage lesson plan submissions based on our materials.

So, what we do have online? Firstly our collection focuses on the Truman Presidency, so the bulk of the primary sources we have online focuses on the tough decisions President Truman faced. So you can find topics such as his Decision to the Drop the Atomic Bomb, the Korean War, and the Desegregation of the Military. However, the materials we have cover all of Truman’s life, not just his presidency.

So last summer we added materials related to his time in World War One. Truman was a Captain in World War I and we have tons of materials online. Even a red poppy that he brought back from France!

I know many students like to look at visual sources so I just wanted to finish up by pointing out links to online political cartoons and thousands of photographs from the Truman era which are a treasure trove of fascinating information.

If you have questions or would like to submit lesson plans you can email me at: and you can follow this link for more information on our educational programs at the Truman Library.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Titanic Finally Sails

We started the study of the Titanic. I first posted about this curriculum this summer and we are finally starting this week. One of our parents, Mrs. Schroeder, turned out to be a Titanic buff. She came in to visit with the kids and get them excited to answer some big questions. Mr. Sauerbrau is still working on the searchable database. Hopefully he finishes in time for us to use it. Be sure to see our website Titanic in the Classroom and check back often as we add student work.

Mrs. Schroeder told us (I'm still checking out its authenticity) that the "woman and children first" rule set back the suffragette movement. Now, that's a story I hadn't heard.