The UCLA Institute on Primary Resources
Holling C. Holling carving of Native American with canoe; UCLA Young Research Library Department of Special Collections
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In the Classroom
Lesson Plans | Guidelines for Writing Teaching Units | Examples of Student Work

A teacher and her students discuss the history of the Great Wall of China; photo by Maryann Steuhrmann, reprinted with permission from UCLA Librarian Increasingly primary sources are becoming available and being used in the K-12 classroom. This Institute supports the integration of primary sources into the K-12 teaching curriculum.

The overall mission of the Institute on Primary Resources is to affect classroom teaching and student learning. Teachers who have participated in the Institute talk about the role of primary sources in enabling them and their students to go "beyond the textbook." Teachers no longer simply present information rather they guide students to develop their own understandings.

A primary source allows students to investigate a subject by reading and analyzing that source, grappling with its meanings, and attempting to interpret it and place it in its historical context.

The goal of the Institute is to highlight those skills and understandings best developed using primary sources. These include critical thinking and historical literacy. The History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools calls for the development of such skills and understandings. Critical thinking skills include the ability to define and clarify problems, to judge information related to a problem, and to solve problems and draw conclusions. Historical literacy is the development of a keen sense of historical empathy, understanding the meaning of time and chronology, analyzing cause and effect, understanding the reasons for continuity and change and recognizing history as a common memory, with political implications.


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