Government Collections Provide Primary-Source Tools for Common Core
With the Common Core State Standards putting greater emphasis on the close analyses of informational texts across subject areas, primary-source documents such as historical letters and records are gaining prominence as potential lesson materials. The federal government’s largest repositories of historical documents have taken notice: Both the U.S. Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration are expanding their digital offerings to help teachers address requirements of the common standards.
The Library of Congress offers digitized primary-source-based classroom materials from a broad swath of historical time periods and subject areas, and includes free supplemental lesson plans and activities on its teachers' resource webpage . The library has made all the materials searchable by common standard and grade level. So, for example, a 6th grade teacher looking for primary-source material to support the standard to “cite specific textual evidence” for the analysis of sources would have a range of materials to choose from: 30 primary-source sets, 43 lesson plans, 31 presentations, and 20 activities are available, ranging in time from colonial America to the present. The choices include ubiquitous topics, such as the national role of Abraham Lincoln and the Industrial Revolution , as well as collections that might appeal to more specific interests, such as how baseball developed between the end of the Civil War and World War II and state-based primary source collections .
"The vastness of the collection and the wide variety—both in terms of content and media—make the digitized primary documents of the Library of Congress significant in terms of their ability to support the common core," Lee Ann Potter, the director of education outreach at the Library of Congress, said in an email. "Resources from the library's collection are relevant to every possible subject matter—not just English/language arts and math, but also science, the social sciences,...
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