Secondary social studies teachers' perspectives on primary source planning
Johnson, Spencer Theadore
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How are 21st Century teachers incorporating primary sources into their history lessons, and what challenges do they face in doing so? The social studies classroom is changing from pedagogy driven by textbook memorization to one that embraces a more authentic understanding of how history works. This change is accelerating due to new technologies and available primary sources on the Internet. This qualitative study questioned professionals in the field and resulted in four themes: Criteria for Effective Sources, Points of Access for Appropriate Source Material, Challenges Encountered in Finding Appropriate Sources, and Planning Lessons Using Sources. 'Criteria for Effective Sources' centers on what makes primary sources useful in the classroom. The 'Points of Access for Appropriate Source Material' theme describes how accessible primary sources are. The 'Challenges Encountered in Finding Appropriate Sources' theme describes why planning is time consuming. Finally, the 'Planning Lessons Using Sources' theme describes how teachers use sources in their lesson planning process. In essence, primary sources are available, but teachers need time to find and modify those sources to fit their instruction. Better website designs that look at efficiently presenting material on websites, as well as more focused professional development concerning the implementation of sources, could solve some of the challenges social studies teachers face.