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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seven Good Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress and the National Archives

The National Archives of the United States and the Library of Congress offer a lot of excellent materials for teachers and students. On Friday I wrote about the free iBooks that the Library of Congress offers to students. If those iBooks weren't for you, the following teaching resources may have something that you find useful.

The National Jukebox is an archive of more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These are recordings that were made using an acoustical recording process that captured sounds on wax cylinders. The recordings in the archive can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website as I have done below. Another great feature of the National Jukebox is the interactive Victrola Book of the Opera. The book contains 436 pages of history and descriptions of 110 operas. Recordings in the book can be launched and listened to within the pages of the book.



National Archives Today's Document feed is a good place to find primary source documents to spark discussion in your classroom. Everyday Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources.

The National Archives Digital Vault poster and video creation tools allow students to drag and drop digital artifacts into a poster or video. The National Archives provides images, documents, and audio in an easy to use editor. When making a poster students can combine multiple images, change background colors, and create captions to make collages of digital artifacts. See the screen capture below for a demonstration of poster editing. Creating a video is just as easy as creating a poster in the Digital Vaults. To create a video simply drag your selected images on to the editing templates, type image captions, select the duration of display for each image, and select audio tracks. See the screen capture below for a look at the video editor.

Library of Congress--Virtual Tour provides images of the Library's historic rooms along with historical information about them. The images are also paired with related links for further investigation. Audio podcasts about items and features in each room can be accessed through the LOC Virtual Tour app. Aesop's Fables interactive book from the Library of Congress is available to read on the Web, on an iPad, and on an Android device. The book contains more than 140 of Aesop's Fables for children. The level of interactivity varies widely depending upon which story you're reading. Some of the stories have truly interactive animations while other simply have a small moving picture accompanying the fable.

A central part of the Teacher's Page on the LOC's website is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

The National Archives Experience's Docs Teach interactive tools center offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data. To get a sense of how each of these activities works you can view existing activities made and shared here by other teachers. In fact, you may want to browse through the Find & Use section before creating an activity from scratch as you may find that someone else has shared an activity that meets your instructional goals too. The Find & Use activities are arranged by historical era and are labeled with a thinking skill and a level of Bloom's revised taxonomy.