Teacher Webinar May 7: English Learners, the Common Core and Primary Sources

How can time-strapped teachers find and use free resources from the online collections of the Library of Congress to support the needs of diverse learners?

Join us in a webinar.

On Thursday, May 7, at 4 PM ET, join Library experts and an ESOL teacher and bilingual peer observer to learn strategies “to engage students in the analysis of evidence (Common Core), increase comprehensible input (diverse learners), and promote content learning and student engagement.”

Library experts will share strategies on analyzing primary sources to enhance the development of critical and analytical thinking skills. Areli Schermerhorn, an ESOL teacher from Syracuse who participated in a 2014 Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute, will join us to discuss strategies for teaching with primary sources to support teaching and learning at all grade and language proficiency levels. Areli will share her experiences with how primary sources can address CCSS – including practice with complex texts and academic language, the use of text-based evidence to support claims, and building knowledge through non-fiction resources.

The event is free, but registration is required. Find the registration link, as well as recordings of past events, here. We’ll post a link to the recording of the webinar on that page, too, after the event.

We asked Areli to share some thoughts about the value of teaching English learners with primary sources.

What do you teach?

Areli Schermerhorn

Areli Schermerhorn

I am a certified TESOL teacher in Syracuse, New York. I work in an urban school district, and I’ve taught English learners at the high school level for nearly 20 years. I am currently employed as the ESL, World Languages, and Bilingual Peer Observer, conducting observations and evaluations for teachers in my district.

How do you use Library of Congress materials with your students or colleagues?

After attending the Library of Congress 2014 Summer Teacher Institute, I collaborated with the Supervisor of Social Studies and the Social Studies Instructional Specialist to design and implement professional development for elementary and secondary Social Studies teachers. We incorporated many of the strategies and resources I was exposed to at the institute. One of our goals was to share with teachers best practices for working with English learners in their social studies classrooms. The use of primary sources and the primary source analysis tool aligned well with the research-based practices identified by the Center for Applied Linguistics. Primary sources and the Library’s primary source analysis tool can be used by teachers to build vocabulary knowledge, develop background knowledge and provide students with opportunities to engage with the content in meaningful ways.

Tell us about an item from the Library’s online collections that you love to show to students.

Teachers that I work with enjoy the primary source sets that can be found under teacher resources. Some of the sets I have used include “Immigration: Challenges for New Americans,”Westward Expansion: Encounter at a Cultural Crossroads” and “Women’s Suffrage.”

Describe an “Aha!” moment for you with teaching with primary sources.

I observed a fourth grade classroom of students as they analyzed primary sources associated with the American Revolution. The primary sources were posted at different locations in the classroom and students used clipboards to note their observations on an organizer as they moved in a gallery-walk fashion in small groups. The classroom had many diverse learners, including English learners, and it was truly amazing to see the level of student engagement in the classroom.

What would you most like to tell other your fellow educators about teaching with primary sources like these?

Today, teachers find themselves trying to balance an array of demands including the Common Core State Standards, increasingly diverse student populations, and new evaluation systems. Primary sources can engage students in the analysis of evidence (Common Core), increase comprehensible input (diverse learners), and promote content learning and student engagement (evaluation). It simply makes sense to consider using primary sources in instruction.

We hope you can join us for the webinar, but until then please leave a comment about your own experiences teaching English learners with primary sources.

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In the March/April 2014 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article described the invention of the phonograph and how it was used by the 19th century American ethnologists, Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, to record music and interviews with Omaha Indians.

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Wanted: Teachers to Serve as the Library of Congress Teacher-in-Residence During the 2015-16 Academic Year

Since 2000, the Library of Congress has recruited teachers to work with Educational Outreach staff to help teachers incorporate the Library’s collection of over 16 million digitized primary sources into high-quality instruction. Previous Teachers-in-Residence have led professional development workshops for teachers in Washington, DC, and across the United States. They have represented the Library at various conferences and meetings and developed teaching materials and lessons that use the Library’s digitized primary sources for national distribution. We are now recruiting for teachers in residence for the 2015-2016 academic year.