Primary Sources in Elementary Classrooms: Exploring the Process of Integrating Primary Sources into Classroom Instruction

The purpose of the study is to better understand how teachers integrate primary sources into classroom instruction through an ethnographic study of the actual practices of teachers. This study proposes a pragmatic assessment of the published research literature on how to “best” integrate primary sources into classroom instruction by focusing on the concrete skills and practices that teachers employ throughout different steps of the process. This study posits that an ethnographic study would reveal significant disconnects between the claims of scholars and the actual practices of teachers. Instead of formulating theories on abstract terms, the study focuses on specific classroom situations and contexts and explores the practices that teachers use when the knowledge they need to successfully use primary sources to teach cannot be found in the research literature. The research questions guiding data collection center around three distinct topics: questions surrounding the beliefs and motivations of teachers engaged in the process of integrating primary sources into classroom instruction, questions regarding the physical, social, and cultural context of integrating primary sources, and questions about the processes by which integration is accomplished. Any questions about this study should be directed to Patricia Garcia at or to Anne Gilliland at