Primary Sources, the Library of Congress and English Learners

Primary sources – the raw materials of history – can be an exciting way to engage English language learners, particularly in Social Studies or history classes.  The Library of Congress offers an extensive digital collection of primary resources on its website that includes paintings, video clips, photos, cartoons, speeches, maps, sound files, letters, and much more.

In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Areli Schermerhorn, an ESL educator in Syracuse, NY, shares ideas on how to make the most of those resources.  She also offers a sample lesson plan and Power Point for 7th grade which is aligned to New York State Social Studies standards and the Common Core State Standards focused on the topic "Westward Expansion."  The lesson addresses multiple perspectives and experiences of the parties portrayed in the famous painting American Progress (1872), as well as many ideas for extension activities.


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