Primary source lessons aligned to the Common Core

There’s an elephant in the room. We all know it. Somebody needs to say something. So . . . here goes.

School starts soon. There. I said it.

For a lot of you, you’re just a few weeks away and excited about getting back in the classroom again. You’ve had a few months to relax, read, research, to re-charge a bit. And now with school start dates just around the corner, you’re looking for handy resources.

How about some sweet primary source lesson plans aligned to the Common Core? Well . . . the National Archives has got you covered.

Seriously. If you haven’t made it over to the National Archives Education page, you are missing out. Lesson plans. Professional development stuff. Handy graphic organizers. It’s one of those sites that is non-negotiable for social studies people. If you’re not taking advantage of all of that goodness, you’re not as good a teacher as you could be. It’s just that simple.

But NARA has lots of other goodies out there.

DocsTeach is one of the those.

DocsTeach is a recent addition to the National Archives family. But it is the perfect place to help kids learn how to think historically and to find useful primary sources. You can browse by historical period, by specific types of historical thinking skills, or by specific types of thinking tools for a huge number of lessons and activities. And because you and other teachers who are joining the site can create your own lessons using the embedded tools, the database of stuff gets bigger every day.

It is a web-based resource so to take full advantage, you’ll need internet-friendly tools like laptops or computer labs. You can also download the DocsTeach app to us the site on iPads or use Flash-friendly tablets.

It really is a phenomenal collection of online lesson plans and resources. But wait. It gets better.

A few months ago, Mickey Ebert of the Kansas City National Archives branch, shared a short document with me and a few of my favorite middle teachers that aligns many of the DocsTeach lessons with the Common Core. So you can grab any grade and any literacy standard and end up with a great lesson.

It’s a very handy tool that not only provides a resource for a quick lesson but it also provides a resource for lesson design. Use the DocsTeach lessons as part of your instruction but don’t forget to steal the idea and the structure of the lessons so you can adapt them to fit any of your units.

It’s a Word document so I’ve posted it below in a variety of formats.

  • Google Doc (links work)
  • Word document (links work)
  • PDF (links don’t work but you can search by lesson title on the DocsTeach site)

Be sure to share the document with others. Better yet, send them back here!

About Glenn Wiebe

I work as a social studies specialist at ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Before coming to ESSDACK, I taught middle school US History and higher ed social science classes.

2 thoughts on “Primary source lessons aligned to the Common Core

  1. Any suggestions for teachers of middle school World Cultures (Stone Age through Renaissance)? Primary resources are scarce and I have been unable to find much in the way of online resources.

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