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Guide to using primary sources for teaching.

Oer use of primary sources

Lesson Components

  • Fast Fact
  • Skill/Objective
  • Success Indicators
  • Introduction
  • Activity
  • Review questions
  • Resources

Fast fact

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with nearly 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include: books and other printed materials, sound and motion picture recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts. Reference: Office of the Librarian


Learners will be able to:

  • Identify resources for use of primary sources as learning materials in their own teaching disciplines.
  • Locate at least one primary source for use in their own teaching.
  • Develop a lesson plan using primary sources.

Success indicators

  • Learner will post a lesson plan that uses at least one primary source as an OER for their own teaching.


According to the National Archives , the use of primary documents as learning materials promotes

  • Student awareness that all written history is subjective in the sense that it reflects an author's interpretation of past events, and
  • Important analytical skills.

Primary sources include:

  • personal records (birth certificates, death certificates, passports, driver's licenses)
  • federal census figures
  • newspapers
  • local government files
  • letters, personal diaries and memoirs
  • drawings and photographs
  • oral histories
  • artifacts
  • court transcripts

Complete the Introductory Lesson about primary sources available from the American Memory project at the Library of Congress.

The Smithsonian Source Teaching with Primary Sources is another useful resource for teaching American History. It includes videos, lesson plans, and searchable collection of primary documents.

American Rhetoric makes audio clips of various speeches available from a Speech Bank via the internet. Website content at American Rhetoric is free for educational uses under the Fair Use exception with attribution.



Complete at least two of the following activities:


Post your responses to the following questions in your course Discussion area:

  • How would the learning experience be different for a student completing a lesson that uses primary sources versus the same lesson that uses a textbook?
  • What challenges might you encounter as a teacher using primary sources instead of textbooks?


  • Identify a set of primary sources for use in your teaching.
  • Develop a lesson plan using these primary sources. Post your lesson plan to MERLOT or OER Commons .

Review questions

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to using primary sources for teaching?
  • What are the most useful resources for teaching with primary sources in your discipline and why?


Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to open educational resources. OpenStax CNX. Apr 17, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10413/1.3
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