Consider the Source Online: Teaching With Historical Records Project connects educators throughout New York State with historical records. Valuable resources surround us in churches, museums, historical organizations, libraries, and state and local governments. They are highly engaging for students, especially when skilled teachers guide and encourage them to make discoveries using critical thinking skills. Consider the Source: Historical Records in the Classroom, originally published as a printed manual, introduces teachers to the how and why of using historical documents. The New York State Archives Partnership Trust’s (APT) statewide Consider the Source Online: Teaching With Historical Records Project builds upon the foundation created by this widely-used and nationally-recognized publication. It brings together teachers and cultural institutions to develop an online network of learning communities and new tools created by educators. The National Archives’ docsteach.org serves as an exemplary model for this project and will be featured as an additional resource for teachers.
The value of using historical documents in the classroom is well-documented and well-known to educators. However, many New York teachers report that they do not know where to find engaging historical documents that support the topics and skills outlined in the NYSED Learning Standards, and lack the training and time to incorporate these resources into their classroom instruction.
APT is poised to overcome these challenges by developing, hosting, and managing an interactive online resource for teaching with historical records, establishing a network of teachers and cultural institutions thereby increasing the use of historical records by students statewide. In-person and online professional development opportunities for educators - focused on incorporating historical documents into their classroom curriculum - will compliment the resources offered.
Why Teach with Historical Documents
The educational use of primary sources (first-person historical documents, artifacts, video and audio recordings, and more) encourages the development of critical thinking skills such as: comparing and contrasting information, determining point of view, and authenticating sources for validity and reliability. By practicing these skills, students develop the qualities of an active and informed citizen.
Historical records are highly versatile. One document may be used in a 4th grade local history class, adapted for use in 8th grade health and incorporated into a 12th grade participation in government class. They are particularly valuable when adapted for use with all learning styles and for students taking English as a new language.