10 Elements for Teaching History 3

3.  Time Travel through Primary Sources

The number one way to make history meaningful is to become a historian.  Set up the time machine and travel back to those days. Once you have learned how to time-travel, you will be able to teach your students how to do this.  The secret to time travel is primary documents–climbing into the observations of someone who lived at the time, and looking around.

My  RESEARCH GUIDE with 7 SOURCES FOR PRIMARY DOCUMENTS can guide you through this process.

>> Also, take a look at OYAN’s blog where Rachel Garner writes about Research for Historical Fiction.”<<

When a student reads a history book, they are reading a simplified compartmentalized account of regurgitated information dummied-down to fit the educational level of the intended reader. This may be necessary to provide the “framework” I mentioned above. But a teacher should not put much weight on this. It is neither fun nor meaningful. Neither is it “doing history.”

When a student reads a primary document, they are entering the mind of someone who lived many years ago.  It is not easy. The student will come face-to-face with words and ideas that are confusing. (Keep a notebook for new words they meet. This will be very useful as SAT prep).

It is the process of interpreting these ideas, looking up those words, connecting the reading with their already-existing clothesline, that they will begin to find meaning.  Do not expect your student to understand everything they read. The purpose of using primary source documents, explained in detail below, is to answer a different question. This is the platform we’re answering it from.

Since online searches have opened up our access to information, students need to be trained in using the internet wisely and safely.


4.  Debate over History–>

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