Primary sources provide firsthand evidence of events in the past. I often like to take pictures and I often tell my kids that I am just recording history to help me remember. We are constantly leaving evidences of our past behind. Brainstorming writing and rough draft writing tell history of a document. Listening to a WWII veteran tell stories about their war experiences put a personal and emotional spin on our understanding of the War. This past September I listened to third grader read stories their parent had written about their memory or experiences during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. We just celebrated the 20 year anniversary of that storm that changed so many lives.
The teacher had another purpose for the stories but I could not help to think about how these stories were the primary sources that translated into our history books. Stories like those collected by journalist at the time and the days and weeks to follow were used to write newspaper articles, books, encyclopedia articles, etc. Until this point I had never thought about the process of writing and thinking like a historian and how important that process belongs in the classroom.
Because we live in the digital world, we have access to hundreds of primary source documents, photographs, manuscript, music, literature, images of artifacts, etc., that goes unused in the teaching and learning world. So sad to think of the missed opportunities for real learning in authentic ways. We need to provide ways our student have the opportunity to think like historians and researchers.
We are in the 21st century with classrooms not much different of classrooms in the past. We should be placing laptop computers in the hands of our kids in the third grade. By not doing it we cut them out of the real learning that