Mr. Hart Goes To DC

In early August on Daybreak, Jason Hart, a teacher at Hood Canal School in Skokomish was on the show telling us about his opportunity to participate in the ‘Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources’ Summer Teacher Institute for the week of August 5-9, 2013. Mr. Hart had been selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants.

KMAS asked Mr. Hart to let us know how it went when he got back to Mason County. Below is his story.

mrhartMr. Hart's experience in Washington DC :

“These are a couple of maps from a young man named George,” said the director of the Maps Division as I entered the rarity vault of the Maps Division in the underbelly of the Library of Congress. He was referring to original maps created by George Washington. As he placed the maps in front of me under a protective layer of plastic, I was impacted by a primary source the same way I hope my students will be.

My week at the Library of Congress from August 5th through the 9th was a renovating learning experience that will have a great impact on the way I teach. Twenty-five other teachers from all over the U.S. and I engaged in a weeklong conference on the use of primary sources in the classroom. According to the Library of Congress, primary sources are, “the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.” For example, reading a letter from Abigail Adams to her husband, John would be considered a primary resource. Reading about Abigail’s influence in her husband’s politics from a textbook would be considered a secondary source. While both have value, primary sources offer students a unique opportunity.

Teaching with Primary Sources, a model propelled by two education heavyweights, Harvard and Stanford, encourages students to observe, reflect, and question these raw materials of history. By doing so, students develop important skills of critical thinking and using evidence to support reasoning. After my trip to Washington DC I am excited to get back into the classroom this fall and use primary sources with my students. Thanks to HCEF, CASA, and Mason County School Retirees for making the trip possible.

Submitted by Jason Hart, Hood Canal Teacher, August 16, 2013