One of the challenges in providing project based activities is finding safe content to use with the project. For instance, if students study countries, they may want pictures of maps, cities, culture, and sports from that country. Yes, you can do searches, check Wikipedia, or find a huge variety of resources online. But that takes time, especially with younger students. With all the online testing that books the labs, we need quick, reliable, usable content. The Library of Congress (US) provides that. At http://www.loc.gov you can find a huge plethora of content.
On their American Memory site, a subdomain at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html, they share a huge amount of multimedia, from maps and pictures, to video and sound files, all from the history of our country. Anywhere from sports, to culture and arts, to cities and geography, to war, all areas provide a huge amount of content to be used by teachers and students. For instance, during World War II, many Japanese-Americans were interned at various camps across the US. Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer, received permission to take photos, which are shared on the LOC website. How would you use these? I saw an awesome lesson once where the teacher gave each student a photo, they researched the basics of the topic, and then they wrote a diary entry as if they were that person. They also made a photo podcast. Awesome activity! All this free content makes that happen! On the site, they also provide various formats and sizes as well. For the photo to the left, they provided seven different types/sizes.
In this section, they also provide a teacher area. Here, they share lessons, resources, and even free professional development. They keep an updated blog, podcast, and RSS feed as well. And that really only scratches the surface of the teacher page.
While in this case, the Library of Congress does not own the content, most of it can be used under educational fair use, and much of it resides in the public domain. For instance, in the case of the Ansel Adams collection, the following statement is shared:
Publication and other forms of distribution: No known restrictions. In giving this collection to the Library in the 1960s, Ansel Adams placed no restrictions on its use.
So it would appear, with citations, teachers can use this in any way they see fit. Great to see! Not quite Creative Commons, but we definitely also like Public Domain, clearing all permissions! We hope to continue to see more collections added to this. The LOC, by nature, definitely gets the need for content by schools!