Elementary Level Workshops

The OJA works with Toronto’s Jewish day schools to introduce students to local Jewish history through archives-based learning. 

Using Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are original materials that were created at the time under study. Examples of primary sources are an artifact, document, diary, photograph, or autobiography.

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources are materials that are second-hand, often created after the event or timeperiod being studied. Secondary sources are often based on an analysis of primary sources and offer judgements about past events/issues, such as books and magazine articles. Some materials that begin as secondary sources can sometimes be studied as primary sources. For example, someone interested in the history of education may use a textbook from the 1950s as a primary source. 

Archives-Based Learning

By using primary sources as a point of inquiry, students are provided with an unfiltered and first-hand account of the people, places, and events under study. Archives-based learning helps students:

1. Think critically

Primary sources require the user to examine the records and draw conclusions based upon the evidence found in the source. All the required information for understanding the context of the record is not necessarily always present. Students must consider the creator’s bias or subjectivity, the intended audience, and the reliability of the information when making assumptions or inferences.

2. Consider perspective

History consists of multiple viewpoints. Primary sources can be used to consider different perspectives when analyzing information. These perspectives can be shaped by both current and historical narratives.

3. Construct knowledge

Forming reasoned conclusions based on facts and evidence requires the use of primary sources. When students can connect the information gleaned from primary sources with information gleaned from other sources of research, they deepen their understanding and construct a base of knowledge that can be applied to other learning opportunities.

4. Understand their part in history

Primary sources teach students that they too are participating in history. Their actions, thoughts, and relationships are part of a continuum of history that will one day form our understanding of the past

Please contact us to arrange a partnership with your school.