I’m delighted to introduce the Library of Congress 2011-2012 Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting to the readers of this blog. Since 2000, the Library of Congress has selected an exceptional teacher to advise and collaborate with its educational staff, and Earnestine is an outstanding addition to that tradition. A fifth-grade classroom teacher at P.S. 153, The Helen Keller School, in the Bronx, N.Y., Earnestine has ample experience in bringing Library of Congress primary sources into students’ lives.
Please join me in welcoming Earnestine as she tells the story of how she first came to work with the Library’s resources.
Who would have known that a three day workshop about primary sources would be an investment that would personally and professionally impact my life?
I was introduced to the Library of Congress several years ago by my school’s recently retired Certified Library Media Specialist, Jacqueline Brathwaite. Jackie reserved a seat for me and for our Social Studies Specialist, Shelley Sanderson, at a summer workshop in New York, facilitated by the Library of Congress in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers and the NYC Department of Education Office of Library Services. Having returned from a Caribbean vacation on a Sunday night to report to a workshop about primary sources the following Monday, I wasn’t sure if I would be a conscientious student. After the session, however, I discovered that I was fueled and armed with tools, techniques and lesson ideas to use with my students, and was eager to learn more about the Library.
Soon, I was plunged into this amazing institution’s collections of primary sources. My colleagues and I collaborated to develop a thematic unit of study based on the New York City draft riot of 1863, which the Library of Congress decided to film us teaching in action.
This was a monumental event for my colleagues and myself, and for the then fourth-grade students of PS 153 of the Bronx, led by Mrs. Veronica Goka. As with all thematic units, we took advantage of this formal observation to infuse project-based learning opportunities for the students. We prepared activities that incorporated a variety of subject areas. In addition to English Language Arts experiences, we integrated science and art.
Currently, you can see the video of our project in one of the Library’s six self-paced professional development modules that help teachers more effectively use the Library’s collection of maps, photographs, historical newspapers, manuscripts, and documents in their classrooms.
Initially, I was overwhelmed by the idea of taking a three-day Library of Congress workshop about primary sources, whereas now I help others use the Library’s primary sources more effectively in their classrooms. As the 2011 -2012 Library of Congress Teacher-In-Residence, I plan to raise awareness of teaching with primary sources strategies that allow students to formulate and express ideas, and to help teachers maximize instructional strategies across the curriculum. Accomplished teachers understand the impact of building connections in student’s learning experiences. As many states across our nation have formally adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative, it is my intention to examine how the Library’s teacher resources support the integration of the Arts, Sciences, and Technology.
It is a personal and professional honor to have been selected as the Library’s 2011-2012 Teacher-in-Residence. I share this honor with my school librarian, mentor and friend, Mrs. Jacqueline Brathwaite.