Authentic Resources

For me, one of the most exciting elements of the Internet is the availability of authentic resources.  People who have collected items for years now have a way to share them with the world.  The beauty of this for educators is that it’s now relatively easy to turn someone’s hobby into dynamite lessons.  Authentic resources can help gifted students as they become experts in a topic or concept.

In my Internet searches, I’ve stumbled across several interesting sites with authentic resources.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Avalon Project is a site maintained by Yale University.  It contains numerous digitized primary documents relating to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.  These documents are organized both by time period and by themes, and date back to 1400 bce

The Library of Congress has an entire website dedicated to education and using primary resources.  It offers lesson  plans, timelines, professional development and much more to help teachers effectively use primary sources to help promote learning, critical thinking, and higher-level thinking.  History teachers will especially find this site helpful.

Using Primary Sources in the Classroom is a page on the Library of Congress’s education website that gives practical ideas for using authentic resources to help student’s learn.  While the ideas aren’t specifically geared towards gifted learners, they can easily be used or adapted for use with those students who need to be challenged.  The ideas are categorized by the type of source:  Objects, Images, Audio, Statistics, Text, and The Community.  Most of the ideas are related to social studies, but a creative teacher can adapt them for use in other subject areas.

American Car Brochures is a site that contains archived car brochures and ads from cars dating back to the early 1900’s.  The brochures are organized by manufacturers, then by years.  Check out American Car Brochures to see if they have information about your first car.  This site can be used with students in social studies,  art, science,  and language arts classes.

Internet Archive is an Internet library of historical collections in digital format.  The archives include text, audio, moving images, software, and archived web pages.  It’s amazing the number of resources available on this site!  I especially like FedFlix, which contains videos from the US Government, including military training films, documentaries, and more.  These can be browsed by title, author, keyword or collection.

LIFE Photo Archive is a joint venture between LIFE Magazine and Google.  The site contains millions of photographs dating as far back as 1750.  Each photo has its own page, which lists the date the photo was taken, the size of the photo, the name of the photographer (if available), a brief description of the photo, and links to related photos.  Many of the photos available in the LIFE Photo Archive have never been published.  The site’s search feature makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.  What a wonderful collection of photos!!

The National Archives:  For Educators and Students is part of The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s website.  It is designed to help teachers use primary sources.  Click on the “Teaching With Documents: Lesson Plans” link to access lesson plans that include the use of primary source documents.

The Object of History is a joint effort between the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media.  The site contains virtual museum field trips based on six themes:  Desk, Gold Nugget, Dress, Voting Machine, Lunch Counter and Short-handled Hoe.   If you click on the “1.  Browse the GUIDE to doing history with objects”, you’ll be taken to a page that offers suggestions for using artifacts for teaching history.  Be sure to click on the links on the left of that page (Stories, Connections, Meanings…) for more good ideas.  Each page has a “Resources” tab that takes you to a page with links related to the topic of the page.  One of the best features of the site is that it allows teachers and students to create their own virtual field trips using the artifacts available on the site.  They have a really good video that explains how that can be done.  (Click on the “Watch a video about how to use this site” link.)  This site is a little difficult to navigate, but the materials and potential that it offers make it worth the trouble.

Teacher Tap provides links to a wide range of primary resources as well as to sites that contain real-time data.  In addition, there are links to sites that offer suggestions for teaching with primary resources.  Teacher Tap is created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, two gurus in educational technology.  I’ve heard Annette speak at tech conferences, and she is very good.  I would guess that the links she offers on this site are to quality sites.  You should also check out the Teacher Tap Visual Resources page for links to photos and clipart.

Vintage Ad Browser is a site at which you can peruse print advertisements from as early as the 1700’s to the present.  There are over 100,000 ads available to browse through.  The ads are organized by category (Sports, Clothing, Cigarettes and Tobacco, TV and Electronics), then organized by years.  There is a search feature that allows you to sort for specific products.  In addition to being a fun  site to browse, I think it has great educational potential:  teaching about design, a study of the decades, teaching about bias, hidden messages, propaganda, etc.

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