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Introducing Readex Lesson Plans: New Teaching Tools Feature Powerful Primary Source Documents to Engage Students in Online Classes

Posted on 11/23/2020

Why include primary sources in undergraduate course materials?

Even prior to the pandemic, faculty were facing increased pressure from both students and administrators to revisit the use of a formal textbook as the sole source of content in their classes.  “Too expensive,” “outdated,” “too long,” (did we mention “too expensive”?) were among the complaints.  More recently, COVID-19 abruptly forced all classes into online-only delivery in the spring of 2020.  As the immediate future of in-person classes remains uncertain, many faculty are taking this opportunity to reexamine and even reinvent their syllabi.  

Primary source content offers a wide array of advantages, including enhancing learning outcomes and student engagement, particularly in undergraduate survey courses.  Historical newspapers, periodicals, and other types of documents offer students an opportunity to read “the first draft of history.”  As an added bonus, there’s a wealth of free historical content in academic libraries.

So why is primary source content often regarded as “nice to have” rather than essential?  Key reasons are the time-consuming task of finding and analyzing just the right primary source materials and preparing assignable student exercises and learning objectives.  

Readex now makes it easy to teach with powerful primary sources!

Readex Lesson Plans enable faculty to identify just the right primary source document and integrate it into their syllabus along with high-value pedagogy.  As the leading publisher of digital resources on nearly every aspect of American history, literature, and politics, Readex is able to select from among the most compelling documents in our vast archive. 

These original lesson plans, each designed around a specific document, align closely with key concepts covered in undergraduate courses across the social sciences and the humanities.  All are written by subject matter experts who are also college and university instructors highly experienced in using primary sources in their own classes.

Each lesson plan includes material that enables faculty to quickly identify where to place the reading into their syllabus; what they should expect students to learn; what skills students should develop in conjunction with the reading; and how to make this activity an assignable and gradable component of the class. 

Primary sources with “ripped from the headlines” relevancy

Each of the historical documents featured in every Readex Lesson Plan also represents a topic that resonates strongly among college students today. From immigration to nationalism, from civil unrest to voting rights, each of these conflicts and challenges have contributed to defining the changes in American society over the past decades and centuries.  When faculty integrate these primary source documents into their undergraduate courses, students gain vital historical context to better analyze and understand the controversial issues of their lives today.  They provide a critically important framework for students to address the question of “how did we get here?”

Learn more about Readex Lesson Plans 

All of the Readex Lesson Plans are available to librarians and faculty on request. Each one includes an embedded link that offers all faculty and students full access to the selected document. Simply contact your Readex account executive today or visit this page for a complete listing.

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