Lesson Planning: Online Archives and Webquests

Since my school places a high priority on using technology in the classroom, I always have an eye out for good resources that will support my teaching in a tech way without being gratuitous or gimmicky. Here’s some of what I’ve found, and as always, feel free to drop suggestions in the comments:


Hispanic Legends and Folklore (multi-session unit, compares and contrasts La Llorona and La Chupacabra, includes assignment and rubric)

American Dreams Through the Decades (from the Library of Congress, group project using primary documents and student writing and presentations)

Epic Poem Project (also from the Library of Congress, using primary documents and Song of Myself as a model, blends in history as well)

Living Through “The Yellow Wallpaper” (group project writing a newspaper that incorporates historical information)

The Great Gatsby Treasure Hunt: I used this to introduce Gatsby with my juniors, which worked well

Digital History Explorations: while this is a history-based site, there are loads of primary resources, archival materials, and lesson plans/resources here that could be helpful while teaching American literature

Archives and Depositories

Documenting the American South, from the University of North Carolina, is a site I discovered quite recently through Free Tech 4 Teachers, and while I haven’t nearly tapped the potential in the fourteen thematic collections assembled here, I’m so excited about the possibilities! The most immediately relevant application for me will probably be helping me develop pre-novel groundwork lessons for when we do Beloved, and I’m going to be combing the Teachers’ Toolkit and all the amazing lesson plans there. I’m also thinking about asking my students to make digital historical narratives as an assessment for the unit.

A Frost Bouquet, from the University of Virginia, useful for images, included Frost-sanctioned Christmas cards!

Frost at Bread Loaf, photos and audio from Middlebury’s Special Collections

The Walt Whitman Archive: I’ve used this with students in the class to introduce the poet and also to compare the different editions of Leaves of Grass

The Classroom Electric: Dickinson, Whitman and American Culture: Skim through the table of contents to find what might work best for you– certainly a treasure trove for comparing two great American poets

Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday, from the Library of Congress: I made a web quest for my ninth graders using this site, which is chock-full of information, photos, sound clips and more. I only have it saved as a Word doc, which I don’t know how to upload here yet, but if you drop me a comment with a valid email address, I’ll send it along

Zorah Neale Hurston’s Of Mules and Men: I used this site in class as part of a folklore transcription exercise– we discussed folklore first, then read some of the oMaM chapters, then they practiced their transcription skills in partners, one reading, one writing. It went well!

Lyrical Legacy: 400 Years of American Song and Poetry: a fantastic interdisciplinary resource from the Library of Congress, sorted by a period in American history, including activities, primary source documents, and images

I’ll be adding more links as I come across them, and will try to make sure whatever I post is free of broken links. I’ll also try to blog about any that I’ve actually used in the classroom.

If this page has been helpful to you, please try my pages on teaching reading strategies, planning poetry lessons and online archives and resources.

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