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Education Highlights from the 2016 National Book Festival

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Last month, we invited you to “Visit Us at the National Book Festival,” and many of you did!

One highlight of the National Book Festival is the opportunity to talk with so many teachers about the Library’s program for K-12 educators. On Saturday we were able to meet more than 120 teachers and school librarians and tell them about the Library’s amazing online collections of primary sources, and about the teacher resources available at Learning from teachers is an important part of our program, and we’re grateful that the National Book Festival provides a venue for us to exchange ideas with educators from around the country.

Author Meg Medina studies a photo of a store owner reacting to damage to her store in Brooklyn.

Another highlight for us was watching teachers, families, and even authors participate in activities using primary sources with connections to a few of the books featured at the Festival.

One activity invited visitors to annotate a primary source to answer “What do you see?” We saw small children studying the images and discussing what they saw with parents; we enjoyed seeing authors stop by; and we overheard teachers comment about how they could use this technique in their classrooms (for more ideas and related teacher tools, browse “Blog Round-Up: Using the Primary Source Analysis Tool.”)

Another activity invited interaction with a key-word cipher that Thomas Jefferson presented to Meriwether Lewis with the instruction to “communicate to us… putting into cipher whatever might do injury if betrayed.” The current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature stopped by to try his hand at coding a message using Jefferson’s cipher – and your students can, too! (Click on the image below for a larger version of the activity handout that we used.)

Write a coded message using Jefferson’s cipher!

Gene Luen Yang composing a coded message at the National Book Festival (Photo credit: Stephen Wesson)

We learned from the teachers who stopped by during the National Book Festival, and we also learn from comments to this blog. Take a moment and let us know how you spark student learning with primary sources and books!

Comments (2)

  1. Can you give us a link to more information about the Jefferson cipher. Is that located in the LOC? Are there any lesson plans on ciphers – for example during the Revolution or Civil Wars. Thanks!

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