Teaching with Primary Sources Unconference

I’m kicking of SAA 2015 with an unconference. Lee Ann Potter offered her thoughts to start the day. She’s the Director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress. She encouraged us to consider what can’t special collections teach us? In short, her message was that primary sources all teach us something and support scholars in the making. Potter talked about how all good primary sources offer rich content, they connect us to the past and present and to others, and they don’t apply to only a particular grade level of discipline. Thinking about the benefits of primary source instruction to preserving and promoting the human record was an inspiring way to start the day.

I co-ran a workshop later in the morning, with Mattie Taormina and Matt Herbison. We shared some ice breakers or quick hits we use in our instruction. Mattie led us through a sensory exercise with a teaching collection that encourages novice users to really experience primary sources through smell, touch, and sight. Matt offered his ideas for discussing bias, and permanence of the historical record. By asking students to write a reflection about a common experience with a platform in mind, like a blog post, tweet, email, or newspaper article. I wrapped things up by talking about how I celebrate student research and work to inspire students to get. Involved in special collections. I shared a story about one of my students who contributed to the Post Family Papers Digitization Project

It was a great morning.

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