The big push nowadays in the social studies world is using evidence and authentic problems to train kids to think historically. We want students to go beyond just simple rote memorization. To be successful citizens, they need the skills to look at a problem from all sides, collect evidence, analyze the evidence, and develop a solution to the problem.

Of course, if you’ve tried this, you already know that the process of training kids to do this is not easy. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen but it really can be narrowed down to a few things:

  • creating authentic problems
  • finding evidence for kids to analyze
  • instructional strategies that teach them how to use that evidence

And I’m discovering that a lot of teachers especially struggle with the last two. Though there are tons of print and online primary / secondary sources around, it can be difficult and time-consuming trying to track them all down. It can also be hard finding different teaching strategies that are effective.

So today a little of both.

One of the primary sources I think we often neglect is newspapers. Newspapers, both current and not so current, can be excellent resources for helping kids think about cause and effect, bias, perspective, chronology, change over time . . . all sorts of cool social studies skills. We just need to know where to find them.

And I just ran across a very sweet post describing a handy instructional strategy over at Edutopia by Raleigh Werberger. Titled Using Old Tech (Not Edtech) to Teach Thinking Skills, the article describes a simple but effective strategy for helping kids look at evidence and use it to develop a “deconstructed essay” with a rough thesis statement.

That’s right. Two of your problems solved in one post.

Awesome links to archived newspapers that you can use as evidence and an awesome, easy to set up, non-tech “analog Google Docs” strategy that you can use with your newly found historical newspapers.

Here are the newspaper links:

Chronicling America
Search America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.

Search from 2,704 of the world’s historical newspaper titles.

The Ancestor Hunt Newspaper Links
Huge list of useful newspaper archives. I started in the Kansas section but feel free to browse through all 50 states and around the world.

Historical Worldwide Newspapers Online
A guide to free Internet sources of historical newspapers from Bowling Green. They also have a specific US section that is a great place to go for you US history folks.

American Civil War Newspapers
I threw this one in here because, well . . . the Civil War is one of my favorite periods. And the digital newspapers here are cool.

Historical Newspapers Online
Handy, searchable database.

Google Newspapers
It always seems a bit clunky to use but Google has a pretty decent database.

So. You’ve got some newspapers. Now what?

Head over to the Using Old Tech (Not Edtech) to Teach Thinking Skills article and check out the simple, T-Chart exercise that uses groups, Post-It Notes, and a Gallery Walk. Need a teaser?

Put kids in groups. Give them two pieces of evidence. In my case, I might give them a newspaper article about the battle of Gettysburg from a Pennsylvania town and one from Richmond. Have them write specific information about each article on a Post-It note and stick it on their poster paper T-Chart. Have kids group their sticky notes in natural groupings, writing a sentence describing the grouping.

Have each group browse past the other T-Charts in the class, posting questions and comments. Then allow groups to “steal” one Post-It note from other groups to add to their T-Chart. Have groups create an overall statement that highlights similarities and differences in both articles.

Boom. Thesis statement. Essay outline done.

Go over and get the full details. Use it with a variety of sources – images, cartoons, diaries, government document, letters. Seems like it would work with just about anything.