The Primary Source Librarian

Dedicated to Excellence in Teaching with Primary Sources

Catching Up…Again

So often I think that I have to write something profound in my Primary Source Librarian posts that I simply decide not to write anything at all. I suspect that’s a challenge for many bloggers. So today I’m just going to catch up on a few of my summer workshop activities. Maybe that will help jumpstart more profound posts.

I love being asked to teach for the Teaching with Primary Sources @Metro State (TPS) program, and if I’m not out of the country, I always say “Yes.” Over the summer, I helped with several workshops:

  • The Hispanic Experience in Colorado. This was a follow-up workshop to an earlier one in February. Activities included a preview of newly digitized Hispanic primary sources from around the state, a look at the new Auraria Casa Mayan Heritage Foundation.
  • A Primary Source Institute at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. I can’t say enough about how fabulous this workshop was for me personally. I shall never forget standing on the very spot in the dark basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters where Lee Harvey Oswald was felled by a bullet from Jack Ruby’s gun. Sharron Conrad, Curator of Education, was a superb organizer and presenter, as was everyone else at the museum. We also worked with the folks from Law-Related Education (LRE), the education arm of the Texas Bar Association. This is my second experience with LRE, and I continue to be thoroughly impressed with their contributions to learning in Texas. Every state should be so lucky! The week-long institute ended in a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald put on by the sixty educators in attendance. The result? A hung jury!
    Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
  • A two-day workshop in my former (and beloved) Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs. This was the first time TPS had fully incorporated a model of inquiry that encouraged participants to experience primary sources as both learners and teachers. Thanks to my able co-presenter, Stevan Kalmon, we finally ensured enough time for reflection – a piece that so often gets short-changed. I also used this workshop to experiment with my first QR code activity from the point of view of learners rather than teachers.

So what happens next? TPS never rests on its laurels, so we are busy planning for 2012. Here are a few of our upcoming projects:

  • Two primary source workshops focused on teachers of gifted and talented students. Thanks to Ruthie Freeman, Assistant Director for TAG in Academy District 20, I will have the pleasure of returning to my old district early in January. The other GT workshop will include participants from the Pikes Peak Regional GT program, coordinated by Elaine Derbenwick. That means we’ll have teachers from a wide range of urban and rural districts, but we’re splitting the workshop into a day for K-5 teachers and a day for 6-12 teachers to make it more useful.
  • Teacher Librarian Day. This is the flagship conference of the TPS-Colorado program, and preliminary plans are to do a follow-up of our successful 2011 TED format. Unless I can talk someone else into it, I’ll be the returning emcee, too. It’s a stretch for me.

Of course, my work with the TPS program doesn’t even begin to cover all the “irons in the fire.” For example, TPS-Colorado Director Peggy O’Neill-Jones and her staff are also constantly working on Western Regional programs for the following states:

Alaska     Arizona     California     Colorado     Hawaii     Idaho     Montana     Nevada     New Mexico     North Dakota     Oregon     South Dakota     Texas     Utah     Washington     Wyoming

I expect to see some 2013 programs developed around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The 4-year-long 150th anniversary of Civil War events is also a natural fit with Library of Congress primary sources. We’re also beginning to investigate the Common Core Standards as they relate to primary sources. I’m pleased that we have perfected a workshop plan that can change according to content and curriculum focus but always includes Library of Congress materials using an inquiry model.

Every workshop also introduces technology tools that support learning with primary sources. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the PSI21 wiki–a GOLD MINE of technology tools for working with primary sources–the TPS staff and consultants have recently updated it. Check it out!

Finally, no matter where you live, I hope you’ll check out the Teaching with Primary Sources Regional Grant Program nearest to you. You don’t have to live near the Library of Congress to take advantage of incredible opportunities and expert trainers!


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