Muddling through the blogosphere

Library of Congress Joins the Blogosphere!


It was my good fortune eight summers ago to travel to Washington DC for a week-long American Memory Project Summer Teacher Institute at the Library of Congress. What an amazing week and experience to tour first-hand our nation’s library! Eight years later, the LOC has continued to digitize hundreds and hundreds of primary source documents in their huge effort to make these resources accessible to the public – especially to teachers and their students.

I love being on their listserv. What I’ve pasted below is from today’s email, and is representative of the information, resources, and services – FREE – they offer:

* Asian Pacific Americans Community Center Help your students understand Asian Pacific Heritage through the resources of the Asian Pacific Americans Community Center. Don’t miss the Primary Source Set on Japanese American internment during WW II.
* New RSS Feed – Poetry 180
Did you know that a poem is available for each weekday of the school year from the Library’s Poetry 180 project? Now these poems can be delivered right to your computer desktop through an RSS feed. Teachers and poetry lovers: sign up today!
* The Battle of the Bulge – Interactive Essay This unique presentation uses U.S. Army situation maps to illustrate this famous WWII battle. Your students will enjoy the interactivity and the historical expertise shared by Library of Congress experts.
* Amazing Grace This new Web site explores the history of “Amazing Grace,” one of the best-known hymns in America, through items from the earliest printing of the song to various performances of it on sound recordings. Don’t miss the illustrated timeline, the essays on the history of “Amazing Grace,” a discography, and a selected bibliography.
* Pictorial Americana
Are you looking for a primary source image to use as a lesson starter or to support a teaching objective? Browse the table of contents of Pictorial Americana for a list of topical sets of images about American life and history. Several new sections have been added.

* The Civil Rights Era in the U.S. News & World Report Photographs Collection –
U.S. News & World Report photographers took these sixteen images during the struggle for African American civil rights. Use the images to help your students understand both the violence and hope of this pivotal time in American history.

* A Century of Creativity – The MacDowell Colony
As students move into summer leisure, encourage them to celebrate their creativity. They may be inspired by a visit to the online version of this Library of Congress exhibition. Students will learn about famous works that trace their origin to the MacDowell Colony, such as Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Aaron Copland’s ballet “Billy the Kid,” and Dorothy and DuBose Heyward’s play “Porgy.” Students will enjoy hearing insider knowledge shared by Library of Congress curators.

* World War I: The Great War
This new presentation from the Veterans History Project offers the experience of World War I through the voices, images, and personal effects of those who were there. Students can examine written accounts (letters, diaries, and memoirs) and photographs that will breathe life into a study of this long-ago event.

* Science Tracer Bullets Online – Global Warming & Climate Change Are hurricanes, melting glaciers, rising ocean levels, eroding coastlines, crop damage, food shortages, absence of rainfall, shrinking aquifers, wildfires, and lowered water tables signs of worldwide global warming? If your students are grappling with how to understand this topic, introduce them to this listing of vetted print and Internet resources from the Science Reference Section, Library of Congress.

The content celebrates nationally observed heritage months, but many teach these topics year-round.

* Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month This Library-wide Web portal offers links to video selections, sound files, Library collections, and teaching materials pertaining to Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

* Jewish American Heritage Month This Web site, created collaboratively by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, offers students a glimpse into the life experiences of the generations of Jewish Americans who contribute to the fabric of American history, culture, and society.

*The first of four Library of Congress Summer Institutes for Educators are almost upon us. We look forward to making new friends as well as seeing some old friends this summer!

*If you plan to visit the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta, consider registering for a half-day, hands-on workshop – The Library of Congress: The Crash Course (Tuesday, June 26, 1-4 p.m.)

But the most exciting part of the email was the mention that the LOC now has a blog – As soon as I finish this post, I’ll be adding the URL to my Bloglines account!

In the past few weeks, I’ve been following a discussion on the NWP Tech Liaison’s listserv about comic book software. From the Oregon Writing Project, TL Glen Bledsoe recently shared a project he and his students created using Comic Life software. And from the Western Mass. Writing Project, Kevin Hodgson has created a digital storytelling site where he posts inspiring projects and wonderful resources – among them Bubbleply, a free download that lets you add dialog bubbles to images and even video. So for the teacher who would love to make the genre of political cartoons accessible and engaging for students, I can envision introducing students to LOC image collections and then turning them loose with free software such as Movie Maker 2, Comic Life or Bubbleply to add a new layer of possibilities for student analysis of primary sources. Who needs a costly textbook (or scripted lessons) when our nation’s library has opened its doors 24/7!?!
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