Best Instructional Practices
Best Instructional Practices are specific teaching methods that guide interaction in the classroom. These effective practices have been identified through research on student learning. Best Instructional Practices are like vehicles used by teachers to efficiently move students forward in their learning. Look for the vehicle icons throughout this Web site to indentify how teachers have used these strategies along with digital primary sources to help students learn.
The Primary Source Lesson Plans Collection uses the following Best Instructional Practices that fuel effective and efficient classroom interaction to drive students on their journey of discovery in a Lesson Plan. Find out how digital primary sources help teachers use these strategies to achieve learning goals with students.
Teaching for Understanding
Teaching for Understanding challenges students to think and use their knowledge to solve problems and connect ideas. Digital primary sources help student identify large scale themes that are central to the discipline being studied. Primary sources require students to use critical thinking and apply of knowledge because the each source is both a puzzle that needs to be interpreted and solved alone and a piece of a larger puzzle of a topic understudy. For this reason, teachers interested in fostering student understanding will find using primary sources particularly useful.
Differentiated instruction is a philosophy that values diversity and recognizes learners as individuals in pursuit of common learning goals. Differentiated Instruction takes place when teachers plan for student differences before teaching a lesson. Instructional decision making rooted in Differentiated Instruction can be recognized by a pre-assessment of student knowledge, skills, and understanding of the curriculum prior to beginning a Lesson Plan and the teacher taking specific actions to recognize the results of the pre-assessment. Lesson Plans based on Differentiated Instruction often provide opportunities to build relationships between the teacher and student and among fellow students through ongoing assessment. Digital primary sources leverage efforts to differentiate instruction because the digital sources can easily be edited or adjusted to address student learning needs. A variety of formats, engage learners with different strengths to enter into an exploration of a topic. The relationship of the primary source to the topic understudy can be very concrete or abstract or can require a high level of background knowledge and vocabulary or the source might have needed vocabulary printed right on the source. This variation in the sources helps teachers to add rigor to the curriculum for all students.
Literacy Instruction provides specific strategies to enable students to locate, comprehend, evaluate, and apply knowledge by reading the materials created by real life. Content related vocabulary instruction is part of literacy instruction. Primary sources are compelling reading materials for all content areas in the K-12 curriculum. The mysterious context, historic vocabulary, and different formats challenge students to read, think, and use what they know about a subject to make sense of the primary source.
"Information Literacy is the ability to structure a search across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet a particular need." (Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning, American Library Association and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 1998)
"Reading Comprehension is the ability to understand text, including words, numbers, and images in print or digital form." International Reading Association. Specific reading comprehension strategies used in model activities include: predict outcomes, ask questions to clarify, hypothesize, summarize, recall main ideas, apply information, infer, connect ideas across contexts, and evaluate information.
Technology Integration is the action of using technology to create unique Lesson Plans for students that could not be achieved without the technology. Dr. Christopher Moersch developed the Levels of Technology Integration Scale that describes different types of instructional uses for technology. Digital primary sources help teachers effectively use technology to teach literacy skills, thinking routines, and content knowledge while developing technology expertise. Students are motivated to solve problems through online research with digital primary sources to build understanding of the curriculum.