Monday, October 27, 2014

Learn About Congress While Learning to Identify Primary Sources

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has produced some excellent resources over the years. I started using some of their interactive learning modules six or seven years ago. This morning I spent some time trying out one of their iPad apps called Congressional Moments. After using the iPad app I discovered that it is also available as a web app.

Congressional Moments is designed to help students learn about key legislative activities that still affect our lives today. The app includes videos about six important areas. Those areas are the National Parks Service, Civil Rights, Child Labor, the Marshall Plan, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The videos are a nice part of the site, but my favorite aspects of the site are the sections designed to help students learn to distinguish the difference between primary and secondary sources.

Three sections of Congressional Moments are designed to teach students the differences between primary and secondary sources and their roles in the research process. The "explore primary sources" section shows students a resource and asks them to choose if that source is a primary source or not. Students receive instant feedback with explanations of the correct answers. In "hear from the experts" students can watch a series of videos featuring two scholars explaining how to identify and use primary sources in research. The primary sources gallery in Congressional Moments features photos, drawing, letters, and maps arranged according to the themes included in the videos on the site.

Applications for Education
The "think about it" section of the Congressional Moments asks students to use the information they read and watched in the previous parts of the app. The "think about it" section contains questions that teachers can use as the basis for lessons on the Congressional activities featured throughout the site.