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Primary Sources in the Primary Grades: Introducing Teresa St. Angelo, 2016-17 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence

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Teresa St. Angelo, 2016-17 Teacher in Residence

In 1897, the doors opened to the Thomas Jefferson Building and the Library of Congress found its new home. Unequaled in its magnificence and grandeur, it was designed as a tribute to the ideas and philosophies from the past and the possibilities of the future. You only need to walk into the Great Hall to appreciate the history that the Library contains.

And here I am, the 2016-2017 Teacher-in Residence. The Teacher-in-Residence uses Library of Congress resources to create a project that will benefit their hometown or district in the following school year, and I’ll be developing primary source portfolios for teachers in grades K-2. The Library of Congress will be my home for the next year. I am humbled, eager, and honored to serve in this position.

I am a Kindergarten teacher from New Jersey, and I attended a week-long Library of Congress Teacher Summer Institute in 2011. My goal was to learn something new that would enhance my teaching and contribute to student achievement.  I was not disappointed when the Library’s Educational Outreach staff launched my use and knowledge of primary source lessons. It was an approach to teaching and learning that I would embrace and bring back to my school district.

The second week of school, I excitedly introduced my Kindergarten students to the Library of Congress by showing them images of the main reading room. I taught them the term “historian” and instantly they were eager to become experts in the study of people, places, and times from the past.

Stucco painted conch shell. Maya, AD 700-900.

We began our first primary source lesson with thinking about how people from a very long time ago were called to gather. I reminded the students that it was a time when there were no cell phones. Then I posed the question. “What could be used?” After letting the students describe their own ideas, and there were many, I finally showed them this stucco painted conch shell and explained that it was used to gather crowds and to open ceremonies. Finally, we discussed why I play chimes in our classroom to call the students to gather.

This helped students understand the difference between the past and the present. Measured by the rich vocabulary, the critical thinking, interaction, questions, engagement and the sense of accomplishment for each student, I knew primary source lessons were here to stay in my classroom!

Each month I offered the Kindergarten students a new primary source lesson. Every lesson included the standards for speaking, listening, and foundational skills for reading. I witnessed growth in confidence, social skills, critical thinking, and inquisitiveness as my historians studied toys from the past, mail delivery, the circus, transportation, umbrellas, baseball, and so much more.

As the Teacher-in-Residence, this year is a gift. It is a gift of time to research and delve into the primary sources the Library has in their specific collections. It is a gift of time to create new primary source lessons for my students and colleagues. It is a gift of time to learn and work among expert staff. It is the best gift an educator could receive.




Comments (50)

  1. Welcome to the TIR Club! So excited to follow your adventure, Teresa. It will be a year of wonder; enjoy.

  2. What an honor and wonderful opportunity to let shine such a true treasure trove of history, Americana and more! Congratulations!

  3. How exciting!!! Primary sources for the primary grades!!! How lucky for your school system!! How smart of the Library of Congress to choose you!! Looking forward to following what promises to be a creative and informative journey!!

  4. Welcome to the club! Looking forward to learning from you Teresa!

  5. Congratulations on your opportunity to serve both the Library of Congress and the educational community! and I am very excited to see what its ahead!

  6. Congratulations! The state of New Jersey should be honored and proud to have you as the teacher in residence. Looking forward to the work produced within the next year!

  7. Congratulations! What an amazing way to engage young students with such rich historical documents

  8. Congratulations! Can’t wait to follow your journey!

  9. You are the best teacher ever and I miss you so much.

  10. Congrats…exciting news!! You will do an amazing job! So proud

  11. Sounds like your students and the Library of Congress are lucky to have you! What an exciting opportunity! Congratulations!!

  12. Wow! I am so inspired that you created a kindergarten class of historians! I’m looking forward to following your journey at the Library of Congress!

  13. The critical thinking, curiosity, and engagement skills learned at young age will carry students throughout their entire life. Bravo for making such an impact on young minds. The Library of Congress is extremely fortunate to have such a gifted and talented educator.

  14. Your style makes an active learning experience as opposed to a passive learning experience with a lecture. I wish I had learned from a teacher like you.

  15. Congrats! Well deserved, primary documents bring history alive in the classroom.

  16. CONGRATS!!!!!!!!

  17. What an inspiring and creative teacher you are! Congratulations on such a great opportunity; the Library of Congress is lucky to have you as well as your school district. It is teachers like you who truly make a difference. Your unique method of teaching will have long lasting impressions on your students!

  18. Congratulation!

  19. Congratulations! What a great honor. We are excited to follow your journey.

  20. Congratulations! Go NJ teachers!!

  21. Congrats!!! It looks very interesting!

  22. Congratulations,how exciting and a great accomplishment. Go NJ!

  23. Congrats! #NewJerseyProud

  24. Go NJ teachers!!!

  25. The most important thing we can teach young children is to read! Opens many doors in life and their imagination. Need more teachers like this!

  26. Enjoy this lovely gift and privilege! I am sure the offspring of these valuable lessons learned this year will grow to become incredible contributors to society.

  27. This is fantastic! Congratulations on such a prestigious post. You make NJ proud!

  28. Congratulations what a great and well deserved accomplishment!

  29. Congrats!!!! Way to represent NJ teachers!

  30. I love that you incorporated fine art into the classroom. I don’t think enough teachers do this and I don’t think we (as a fellow teacher) can do it enough. Perfect way to use primary sources! Congrats and go NJ teachers!

  31. What an amazing opportunity for a well-deserved educator!

  32. Excellent job Teresa! You inspire us all!!!
    HS teachers like us will be lucky years down the road when we start teaching kids that you and others following in your footsteps have exposed to these experiences!

  33. Thanks, Teresa! This sounds so exciting! I am a teacher librarian in a K-2 school and love the resources at the LOC. I hope you will be sharing lessons as it sounds like you have worked hard at using primary resources with your kinders. Congratulation and have a wonderful year!

  34. Congratulations on earning such an honorable role in education! We are lucky to have you represent NJ teachers!

  35. Congratulations! What a great accomplishment!

  36. Congratulations Teresa! This honor is so well-deserved and I am excited to follow you on this journey!!!
    Enjoy this amazing achievement.

  37. Way to go Teresa! What an awesome experience for you and well deserved. You set such a wonderful example for all educators. Enjoy your time at the l.o.c. We look forward to following your progress while there!!

  38. Congratulations! Good Luck

  39. Congratulations! Educators and students will learn and grow from the lessons you develop. Enjoy your time researching. Looking forward to reading more about your lessons that will inspire and motivate!

  40. Encouraging critical thinking and inquisitiveness at such a young age is inspiring. How fortunate for all the future young “historians” in your community and around the country to benefit from your research! Looking forward to reading your blogs and following your journey. Congratulations!

  41. Congratulations!

  42. I am a teacher of British English language at a nursery school in Peking.

  43. Congratulations on being chosen for your year long assignment. I am looking forward to working and learning from you this year and helping my fourth grade “historians” learn more about the past. Cheers!

  44. Teresa has given a seminal American library a gift of
    presence, work ethic, character and knowledge, both
    academic and worldly. May the library and public it serves tacitly acknowledge teresa’s love for her work with a love for theirs.

  45. Congratulations! We are sure it is well-deserved. Wishing you the very best in your endeavors.

  46. I can’t wait to see what wonderful ideas you come up with for kindersmarties and elementary students! Congratulations!

  47. Congratulations for this awesome opportunity for you, your students and colleagues. Your the perfect person for this appointment. Very happy for you!!!

  48. Congratulations, you must be so happy. We are proud of your teaching career.

  49. Congratulations! This is such an amazing opportunity! I am so excited for you! How lucky your school is to have you teaching their students and then sharing this information!

  50. Terry, this is so exciting! I am so proud to have known you when. What a wonderful opportunity for you and what a fantastic contribution you are making. And what lucky students you have had and will continue to have. Best wishes and love, Harriet

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