I ran across a primary sources site the other day and walked away pretty impressed. The Smithsonian has partnered with several Teaching American History grants and gathered together a wide variety of primary sources and lesson plans. Called Smithsonian Source, the site was created by teachers and is moderated by Smithsonian staff. The partnership has resulted in sources and lesson plans that are top-notch.
The site is maintained by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies and is divided into three main chunks:
- Teaching with Primary Sources – A series of helpful teaching strategies with examples, lessons and video clips.
- Historical Topics – Lesson plans, DBQs and primary sources grouped in six historical periods (Civil Rights, Colonial America, Invention, Native Americans, Westward Expansion, Transportation)
- Primary Sources – A searchable database of all of the lessons by keyword, document type and historical period.
You can create an account allowing you to compile a collection of your favorite lessons and primary sources. The site’s look and feel is a bit clunky (I could do without the cheesy default music) but it’s a nice idea that encourages the use of primary sources in ways that are good for kids.
A few other sites that are similar in style and intent:
MYLoc – A lesson plan and document site maintained by the Library of Congress. Also allows you to save and collect your favorite lessons and sources.
BetterLesson – A new site still in beta that is very Facebookish in style and use that encourages teachers to post and share effective lessons and materials