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American Memory Workshop

Collection Search Activity

Title of Collection you are working with: ___________________________

Step One: With a partner, locate one or two documents you think would be interesting for students to examine. (30 min)

A. Begin from one of two places:

  • The title page of your designated collection
  • The Learning Page and the "learn More About It" info on your collection

B. Designate one partner who will take notes on the searching process, while the other drives. (Note: you can take turns!)

C. Skim the background material on the collection. Brainstorm for a moment about the kinds of documents students might find interesting in such a collection.

D. Search/browse through the collection, using terms you brainstormed. Keep searching until you locate one or two documents that you think students would find interesting to examine. Bookmark or print out the document.

Step Two: Brainstorm the document(s) with your partner. (15 min)

A. What makes this an interesting document for students to consider? What unusual qualities or characteristics does the document possess?

B. Brainstorm with your partner ways you might use the document with students. What kinds of classroom activities might you have students do?

C. What curriculum targets, if any, might the document(s) help address?

American Memory Workshop Planning Guide

This is the framework Cyberbee followed for the three hour workshop on the American Memory Collections for middle and high school library media specialists. All of the individuals attending this workshop were using the Internet with students at their respective schools.

Opening Comments - 20 minutes

Open the workshop by wearing white gloves to simulate how the archivists at the Library Of Congress handle photographs. This is a real ice breaker. Inform the group about the disappearance and return of the Walt Whitman Diaries. The group will be absolutely entranced with the story. Show your groups some original photographs that you have printed. Be sure to wear the white gloves.

Photo Analysis 30 Minutes

Divide the group into pairs. Have them analyze The Close of a Career in New York photograph using the Photo Analysis Guide. As a group, discuss the findings.

You can also give them a photo of a one-room schoolhouse from the Built In America collection.

Break - 15 minutes

Collection Search Activity - 45 minutes

Preparation: Place papers with different collection names at the computers.

Again work in pairs. Have participants look at specific collections and brainstorm ideas on how to use the artifacts in the classroom. These are a few examples of the Quick Lessons/Ideas that were presented.

Learning Page - 30 minutes

The culminating activity is an introduction to the Learning Page. By waiting until the end of the morning to do this activity, the group will have a better understanding of how the lessons could tie-in to the classroom.

Collection Search Continued...

Step Three: In a group with others who have looked at your collection, discuss the following. And take notes on the discussion! (30 min)

A. Sharing artifacts and activities

Take turns sharing artifacts you have located. On chart paper, make a list of the student activities that your group brainstormed around the collection artifacts. Do you see any patterns emerging in the kinds of activities your group brainstormed?

B. Using the search engines and browsing aids

What was it like searching through the collection? What approach did you take? What surprises or obstacles did you encounter? What strategies and browsing aids were most effective in helping you find documents of interest?

C. Understanding the collection

What if anything did you learn about the collection itself? What were its distinctive characteristics or qualities? Was there anything surprising about its contents?

Step Four: Facilitator debriefs the groups.

A. What were some of the qualities of interesting primary sources for students?

B. Looking at the lists of brainstormed activities, what are some common themes and strategies that emerge? Can we begin to identify some shared principles of good learning activities?

C. What experiences did you have while searching the collections? What surprises or obstacles did you encounter? What strategies proved most effective in helping you find documents of interest?

Updated March 11, 2015
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