Teaching and Learning with DPLA

By Samantha Gibson, September 5, 2018.
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It’s a new academic year and we are as excited as all of you to sharpen our pencils (or dust off our keyboards!) and dive into another year of teaching and learning at DPLA. A resource for both educators and students, the Digital Public Library of America (https://dp.la) is a free national digital library that provides access to millions of materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. With over 29 million items representing collections of more than 3,000 cultural heritage institutions, the possibilities for research are endless. How can you get started? We created an Education Guide to DPLA, which offers an overview of what we have to offer for educators and students.

To dive deeper, explore our resources below:

Primary Source Sets

With 140 topics spanning US History, American Literature, Art History, World History, Science and Technology, and more, our Primary Source Sets are a go-to resource for any educator looking to incorporate primary sources into classes this year. The Primary Source Sets are created and reviewed by the instructors on our Education Advisory Committee, and each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen classroom-ready primary sources, discussion questions, and classroom activities. For example, use the items in Treaty of Versailles and the End of World War I to explore popular and political responses to the terms of the treaty. Add historical context to your literature unit on Of Mice and Men with primary sources about the lives and experiences of migrant farm workers in Great Depression California. Or, use sets on topics related to social movements to provide historical context for contemporary activism.

One of the strengths of these resources is their adaptability; there is no wrong way to use a set! Here are a few implementation ideas that we have heard from educators across the country:

“I plan to share the DPLA archive with my teacher team. We are currently doing center work around primary resources in social studies and I feel that this archive will be extremely helpful in accessing additional resources.”— A participant in Brooklyn Public Library’s Teacher Lab online course

Free Webinar for Educators

To learn more about ideas and strategies for using DPLA and the Primary Source Sets in instruction, join our free one-hour webinar on October 2, 2018 at 5:00pm Eastern hosted by DPLA staff and members of DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee. This interactive webinar, “Using DPLA to Teach with Primary Sources,” will share proven strategies for teaching with the Primary Source Sets and allow participants to generate implementation ideas customized for their students and curricula. If you already use DPLA in your instruction, join us to gather new approaches to try this academic year. If you are new to DPLA, you will leave with hands-on experience navigating and using DPLA as well as concrete ideas to experiment with in class.

Register now

We have been hard at work on other great resources for education in addition to the Primary Source Sets. Don’t miss:

National History Day

DPLA is proud to be a part of National History Day and, with millions of primary and secondary sources in our collections, DPLA is the perfect resource for your students’ National History Day projects. Find DPLA’s guide to Primary Source Sets, Exhibitions, and sample search results to complement selected topics from the 2019 National History Day theme, “Triumph and Tragedy in History,” on our National History Day page.

Teaching the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, Part 2

We were honored to have the opportunity to contribute a chapter to the recently released Teaching the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, Part 2 developed by C3 Teachers and published by the National Council for Social Studies. Our chapter, “Did the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Expand Slavery or Threaten Its Future?” uses the Inquiry Design Model to explore sources and critical thinking questions inspired by our Primary Source Set on The Underground Railroad and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Online Exhibitions

Like the Primary Source Sets, DPLA’s online exhibitions represent a broad array of curricular topics and provide easy-to-use learning experiences for students and educators alike. Our newest exhibitions explore the construction and legacy of the Erie Canal and American imperialism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Browse by Topic

Explore DPLA’s rich collections on topics of interest like the American Civil War, Immigration since 1840, and the Civil Rights Movement without having to do a search. Browse by topic, one of the newest learning tools on DPLA’s site, features hand-selected items from across DPLA’s collections and is designed to showcase the breadth and depth of our materials in easy-to-navigate lists.

Free Ebooks

DPLA is pursuing multiple projects aimed at expanding ebook availability for readers of all ages. DPLA is a proud partner of Open eBooks, an app that makes thousands of popular and award-winning titles available for low-income K-12 readers for free, including 600 new books added this summer.

In addition to Open eBooks, DPLA recently launched a new digital library of free ebooks: Open Bookshelf. The Open Bookshelf collection is free and accessible to all and includes popular classroom texts like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. It also features open textbooks on topics like math, language, and law. To access, just download the SimplyE app (iOS and Android), add the Digital Public Library of America to the account, and browse the collection.

Create lists of your favorite items

Use this handy guide to get started with our new list-making feature on our website. With this new tool, save great materials discovered on DPLA’s website to come back to again and again without having to repeat a search. You can organize lists of primary sources for upcoming lessons, have students create lists of resources for research projects, and more.

Stay connected with DPLA this academic year by joining our education mailing list or reaching out to us at education@dp.la.