The End of a Year at the Library of Congress: The Beginning of a New Journey

This post was written by Tom Bober, the Library of Congress 2015-16 Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence.

Tom Bober, 2015-16 Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence

Tom Bober, 2015-16 Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence

It seems like each school year flies by faster than the last, and that is exactly how I feel about my time here at the Library of Congress as the Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence. I always end my school year by reflecting back on the past year and planning for the next.

As I look back on this school year, I think about my new learning.

  • I have grown as a writer and presenter. I am more conscious of my audience and what I want to share with them. It has given me new ways to share my stories.
  • I have learned to navigate many areas of the Library of Congress, in person and online, and along the way found the most helpful librarians and staff in the dozen reading rooms I’ve visited. It has made me eager to step into libraries that house primary sources in my home town and continue to explore the Library of Congress online collections.
  • I have found more of my professional voice. I’ve realized that my opinions and perspectives are valued among people I consider to be the best of the best. It gives me a new sense of self.
  • I’ve had incredible collaborative relationships where the give and take of ideas has pushed me to give birth to new thinking. It has helped me to gain a deep and rich knowledge of students’ use of primary sources. My thinking has evolved in ways that I couldn’t have predicted.

And as I plan for next year, I think about opportunities ahead.

  • I have many new ideas for using primary sources with my students. Some I’ve written about in this blog. Others are outlined in a notebook to be uncovered soon. I can’t wait to see how students react to these new approaches and primary sources.
  • I’m eager to write about my students’ use of primary sources, and while the audience for my blog will be quite a bit smaller than this one, the opportunity to reflect will be of incredible value to me.
  • I’m looking forward to talking with new teachers in St. Louis and across the Midwest in a shared collaboration focused on students’ use of primary sources in learning.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my gratitude to my family, who selflessly allowed me to move halfway across the country for the opportunity to grow. I’m thankful to many in my district who supported this endeavor without question and are welcoming me back in the fall.

I’m appreciative that I was able to share a bit of myself with this institution and gain so much from it at the same time.

Discovering Elements of Urban Culture in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century from a Children’s Book

In the May/June 2016 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article featured The Rocket Book, a children’s book published in 1912.

The details contained in both the story’s prose and its illustrations—from the names and occupations of the tenants to the pastimes and inventions depicted—provide a unique glimpse of urban life in America in the early years of the twentieth century.

Primary Sources in Science Classrooms: Severe Weather and Community Resilience

Throughout human history, communities have contended with the consequences and costs of severe weather. Recent discourse about climate, sea levels, and weather events include both national and local-level conversations about building community resilience in response to severe weather. Primary sources can initiate deep learning about severe weather and community preparedness and responses.

Primary Sources in Science Classrooms: Coal River and Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

Individually and collectively humans exert both positive and negative influences on Earth’s systems. Teachers and students studying the interactions among Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere and related human activity can explore images, manuscripts, and recorded oral history interviews from the Coal River community in West Virginia.

New Science Primary Source Sets from the Library of Congress: Weather Forecasting and Scientific Data

From a centuries-old barometer to a twenty-first century climate map, from diagrams of optical phenomena drawn by Isaac Newton to forest-health charts created by West Virginia volunteers, two new primary source sets from the Library of Congress provide rich opportunities to explore the scope and nature of scientific endeavor.