Connecting students to their world by making them curators of primary sources they select themselves.

by Michelle Pearson

Grades 6-8


I believe we need to make students the creators and curators of their own knowledge. To do so, I ask students to use inquiry and analysis around primary sources, original documents, and artifacts.

Curating knowledge themselves puts students in charge of their own learning. It helps them to better analyze what they are hearing, to make better decisions, and to better understand point of view. It also develops skills associated with using non-fiction evidence for their ideas and their thought processes.

Turning students into creators and curators requires engaging them in a three-part cycle of inquiry.

I ask students to:

–Engage with original primary sources, to make sense of authentic, real, non-fiction resources that they can immediately connect to,

–Let their inquiry drive instruction, so that their questions shape their learning and their own interests sustain them throughout the lesson, and

–Take time to genuinely analyze and reflect on the materials they explore, so that they’re able to synthesize their learning and employ their knowledge as a foundation for continued understanding.

Helping students curate a base of knowledge in this way gives them a strong foundation of experience and a process they can apply to every learning challenge.

About Michelle Pearson

Michelle is a Social Studies teacher at Century Middle School in the Adams 12 school district in Colorado. She has a B.A. in liberal studies, and a...

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