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!


Mark_A said...

And this activity sheet can be used to analyze old photographs too

It's a pdf:

nbosch said...

Thanks Mark for the form. At one time the National Archives had an extensive collection of forms used to analyze photos, documents, films, etc. I think this is a great activity to enhance visual literacy.

Mark_A said...

I modified the ones used by the National Archives and posted all the different types here:

nbosch said...

Nice job, now you need to figure out how to do images with hotspots---you can see a neat one here of Jane Goodall's camp in Africa When you drag the mouse around the photo different annotations pop up. I can see such neat uses of this using primary sources, I think you can do it with a flickr "toy".