One way to challenge gifted students to think critically and increase their excitement for history and government is to use primary sources in the classroom. With the Presidential election heating up, now is a great time to think about ways primary documents can be used in social studies. The National Archives offers a variety of free lesson plans and reproducible copies of primary documents that align with the National Standards for History and National Standards for Civics and Government. The lessons cover the years 1754 to present and include a variety of major eras such as the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Great Depression and World War II, and Contemporary United States.
For both elementary and secondary educators who are interested in learning more about using primary historical documents in the classroom, the National Archives offers summer institutes throughout the U.S. for a small fee. “Primarily Teaching: Original Documents and Classroom Strategies” teaches educators how to research historical records and create exciting classroom materials based on these documents. Participants are allowed to receive graduate credit for the course and also receive a stipend upon completion. The schedule and more information are available here.
We hope you enjoy challenging students to become critical thinkers in social studies by using primary sources!