At the State Historical Museum of Iowa, we’re excited that Iowa history has been added to the new Iowa Core Social Studies Standards. That means teachers across the state will teach Iowa history at every grade level. It’s a big job, to be sure, and we’re prepared to help them succeed.
For starters, the State Historical Museum has assembled an easy-to-use online collection of historic resources, called Primary Source Sets, through a grant the Library of Congress set aside to encourage Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS). Accordingly, each of our 12 new sets focuses on national and international history as well as Iowa’s history through such topics as immigration, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, World War I, school desegregation, and caucuses and elections.
We are also developing a Primary Source Set Toolkit filled with tips and tools to help teachers integrate primary sources into any education setting with students of all ages.
The Primary Source Sets website will go live on Aug. 7. So check back soon to explore the site.
Here are five ways students benefit from using primary sources:
- Primary sources fascinate students because they are personal and real: The stories come to life. Human expression provides history with color and excitement to spark curiosity.
- Primary sources place dry facts and dates into a broader context, inviting students to weigh the significance of primary sources against more general interpretations of a particular topic.
- Primary sources invite students to participate in the process of history. They can debate, challenge and seek out evidence to support their own interpretation.
- Primary sources encourage students to develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose and different points of view.
- Primary sources empower students to understand and draw from diverse perspectives, a valuable skill beyond the classroom.