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Memorable Professional Development from the Library of Congress – It Made a Real Change

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This is a guest post from Kathleen McGuigan, who works in K-12 education at the Library of Congress. This is part one of a two-part series on professional development.

As the school year starts to wind down, we are ramping up for our busiest season – summer!

The warmest months give us an opportunity to spend time with educators from across the country as they work on-site at the Library of Congress at the Summer Teacher Institutes. Participants spend a week unpacking teaching strategies for using primary sources in the classroom and discuss possibilities to further student engagement, develop their critical thinking skills, and build content knowledge.

This year, the Library will host five institutes serving approximately 150 educators from K-16 and across the content areas. We love the institutes because we get to learn about what’s happening in classrooms and school libraries around the country. We hear time and time again, that our PD events are memorable because teachers make a shift in developing learning activities that truly become about students being in control of their own learning.

Listen to what three teachers from New York City share about their experiences with the Library after their PD session.

Tovelah Hirsch, a teacher from Miami Dade County Schools, adds from her experience at a 2011 institute, “I had a paradigm shift. I went from trying to include primary and secondary sources to meet state standards to [an a-ha moment]! It is natural to include real resources because it adds quality and authenticity with a human face.  I also will be able to take what I have been given and share, disseminate, using all the ‘propaganda’ you have given me into perpetuity, with rigor!”

This post from last summer provides a sampling of the sorts of primary sources teachers discover in the course of an institute.

We would love to hear from you on what makes PD memorable for you.

In the second post, we will show you how you can use our materials and resources to build and deliver your own PD event.



  1. Professional Development in my school district has run the gamut from worthless to mildly useful. As Common Core has crept in and forced us to look more closely at ourselves and our teaching skills, Professional Development is many educators’ most significant resource for improving student achievement in our classrooms. My intention is to share the LOC resources among my colleagues.

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