Sources: Interacting with History: Teaching with Primary Sources

Interacting with History: Teaching with Primary Sources. Ed. by Katherine Lehman. Chicago: ALA, 2014. 136 p. Paper $46 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1205-8).

As the use of primary sources becomes more prevalent in educational standards at the state and national levels, teachers and librarians need resources to help them prepare lesson plans and create projects and assignments. Interacting with History, inspired by the 2011 Library of Congress Summer Institute, provides professional development tools, sample lesson plans, and steps for using a variety of online and physical primary sources for many age groups.

The contributed chapters in Interacting with History build upon each other, providing practical examples and useful resources for all stages of primary source implementation. The first three chapters of the book focus on resources available through the Library of Congress, including a tour of the Library of Congress’s physical and virtual spaces, examples of available teaching resources, and professional development and classroom support tools. The focus throughout is on K–12 education, although many of the resources could also apply to higher education, especially the wealth of digital primary resources available through the Library of Congress website. In-depth exploration of resources like the “Teachers” webpage is very useful for educators, and the chapters include multiple screenshots and primary source examples as beneficial illustrations.

The book’s overarching goal seems to be practical classroom application. Along with the chapters describing the Library of Congress online resources are two chapters including sample lesson plans and techniques for using local history resources. The lesson plans, provided by participants from the 2011 Library of Congress Summer Institute, are aimed at various age levels and use several types of primary sources. It is inspiring to see how primary sources are used with students ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, and the teacher/librarian comments on lesson plan implementation are very useful. Many of the plan descriptions also include samples of student work as well as student comments about the projects they created or what they learned from primary source exploration. The local history resources chapter brings together Library of Congress sources with local resources, giving good examples of where to look for local resources and how to use them in the classroom. Samples projects and feedback are included in this chapter as well.

Interacting with History provides a practical guide for teachers and librarians who might be new to integrating primary sources into the classroom. Detailed descriptions of Library of Congress resources designed specifically for educators, sample lesson plans, and examples of local resources combine practicality and usability. Many of the examples use Web 2.0 technologies in interesting and fun ways, and the student feedback highlights children’s and teens’ enjoyment of the projects. The chapter subheadings can be confusing at times, but the resources listed in the bibliographies and notes for each chapter and lesson plan more than make up for this drawback. Practical application and detailed instructions for webpage navigation make Interacting with History a user-friendly resource.—Jacquelyn Slater Reese, Librarian and Assistant Professor of Bibliography, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman, Oklahoma

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