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.

Primary Sources in Science Classrooms: Plants, Photos from Tuskegee, and Planning Investigations

Scientific investigations with plants are a staple in elementary school classrooms. Young learners study plant structures and functions, what plants need to grow, how plants reproduce and pass on genetic information, and how matter and energy move in ecosystems. As they learn core scientific ideas, students should simultaneously engage in the practices of scientists. Historic photographs can serve as windows into planning and carrying out scientific investigations.