Five Questions with Melody Riggs, 2018 Summer Teacher Institute Participant

This post was written by Melody Riggs, a K-6 technology teacher and library media specialist at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, part of Cincinnati, Ohio, Public Schools. Previously she taught 8th grade Language Arts.

The deadline to apply for the 2019 institute is March 10, 2019.

Why did you apply to participate in the Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute?

I applied because I wanted something different for professional development. I was at the end of finishing up a licensure program for school library media, and I wanted professional development that spoke to that. I came across the application through a listserv and applied. I had worked a little with primary sources as an English Language Arts teacher, but I wanted to know more about teaching with them across subject areas and grade levels since my new license would be a K-12 license. Also, teaching with primary sources wasn’t really a topic in my undergraduate and graduate courses. However, in an era of fake news and wanting to be able to discern fact from fiction, I thought that learning more about using primary sources would be helpful – and it was!

What’s one thing that stands out about your Institute experience?

The quality of the professional development. In fifteen years in public education, I have sat through a lot of professional development. I left the institute with activities and ideas I could implement from day one.

Is there anything that surprised you about the Library or its staff?

I never knew the library had so many departments or libraries within libraries. At the Institute we got to “speed date” the various departments to see what types of collections they had. The amount of information is overwhelming and awesome!

How has your teaching changed since your participated in the Summer Teacher Institute?

I find myself trying to pull in primary sources as often as possible. I’m now in a role where I teach K-6 technology and am the librarian for the school. When my technology classes study something, we look at primary sources too. For example, one week I read a book about space exploration and aeronautics to my students. I was able to access some early aeronautics primary sources to talk about how people once thought balloons were the way to travel through the air. I like being able to infuse history into the lessons too.

Mr. Blanchard accompagné de Mr. Gefferies est parti … entre Calais et Boulogne, 1785

Zeppelin airship for passengers

What’s next for you and the Library’s resources?

I already showed the other teachers at my school the resources available on the website, and they were impressed. I want to teach my older students how to find the primary sources themselves as well. I’d like to be able to give them a general topic and then see what they find.

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