We’re delighted to introduce the Library of Congress 2015-16 Teacher in Residence for audio and visual materials. Since 2000, the Library of Congress has selected an exceptional teacher to advise and collaborate with its educational staff. Tom Bober, a librarian at RM Captain Elementary in Clayton, Missouri, has used primary sources on historical and scientific topics from the Library of Congress to help students construct knowledge.
Two years ago, I attended the Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute. Before the end of the week, I knew that the experience had changed me as a teacher. Little did I know what other opportunities were ahead of me.
I attended the institute early in my career as an elementary school librarian after having struggled with using primary sources years earlier as a classroom teacher. I saw this as an opportunity to grow professionally and bring new resources to an entire school of students. The strategies that were modeled and practiced at the Institute opened my eyes to a new way to affect my students’ learning. As the school year began, students started by analyzing primary source photographs, but soon they were analyzing drawings, newspaper articles, advertisements, letters, maps, notes, commercials, sheet music, news footage, and more.
Some of the most rich and engaging pieces they worked with were audio and visual primary sources. For example, I’m fond of this 1914 recording of the Tom Thumb fairy tale. Listening to the piece can provide younger students an opportunity to identify the elements of a fairy tale. Their enthusiasm and engagement was exhilarating. It drove me to find even more primary sources to discover new ways students could interact with them and create understanding from them.
When the Audio-Visual Teacher in Residence position was posted, I asked myself what I had to offer in the position. I then thought of the audio and visual primary sources my students had analyzed. I thought of the compelling primary sources I had found that transformed a lesson. I thought of the stumbles I had made in the past two years in teaching with primary sources and all that I had learned from those missteps. Mostly, I thought of the amazing understandings my students had come to by analyzing primary sources as part of their learning. All of this convinced me that I had a voice that would be worth sharing with a wider audience and that there was still so much I wanted to learn and experience within the Library.
As I begin my year at the Library of Congress, I recognize what wonderful opportunities I have ahead of me. I look forward to learning from and collaborating with an amazing staff here at the Library, discovering incredible primary sources, working with dedicated educators from across the country, and contributing to the conversation about how the millions of primary sources, especially audio-visual primary sources, available through the Library of Congress can have an impact on student learning.
Keep an eye out for a post from the Library’s new 2015-16 Science Teacher in Residence in September.