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Teacher Resources for Primary Educators: Reflections of an Intern and Teacher

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This is a guest post by Delaney Ford, an intern with the education team at the Library of Congress as part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) internship program.

Delaney Ford worked as an HNIP intern in the Library’s Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives Office in fall 2020

Hello, my name is Delaney Ford, a senior at McDaniel College, and I am an elementary education and Spanish double major. I have had the wonderful opportunity of being an intern in the Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives Office at the Library of Congress this semester. I have also worked in a first-grade virtual classroom at Sandymount Elementary School in Carroll County, Maryland. This classroom experience focused my internship on finding more ways to expand access to the Library’s online collections and teacher resources for classroom teachers.

I have learned how to navigate the website and examined many of the primary sources in the Library’s collections. I have discovered that the Library’s website for teachers offers lesson plans, presentations, primary source sets, and professional development programs. I read through many of the Library’s 3rd-5th grade lesson plans and recommended changes so that these lesson plans can be made even more versatile for primary educators to incorporate into their daily instruction.

When working with primary grade levels, it’s very important that teachers find a way to have access to digitized materials that can help younger students clearly understand the topic. Also, students need to have the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities with these resources. For example, one helpful resources that the Library of Congress offers is “Distance Learning and Primary Sources,” that has step-by-step details on how many of these primary resources can be incorporated within the classroom in an interactive way for younger students.

As I was reading through some of the Library’s primary source sets, I noticed the set “Baseball Across a Changing Nation,” had multiple photographs provided for teachers to use to help students better visualize and understand how the sport of baseball has evolved over a period of time. This resource can be very beneficial for a primary grade level classroom because teachers can ask students “What do you know about baseball?” or “What do you think is happening in this photo?” Pairing resources with discussion questions also helps students figure out what’s going on and how players were affected by some of the rules placed on them during this time.

While looking through the lesson plan “The Civil War through a Child’s Eye,” I noticed that teachers were provided with a portrait of a drummer boy. Also, the lesson included a portrait of a boy from the 19th century. Early educators can engage their students to learn about the Civil War by asking them to look at the photograph and respond to the question “How do you think the little boy was feeling during this time? or “Why do you think he’s dressed up?” For the photograph titled, “Drummer Boy,” I would ask my students “Why do you think the photograph is called ‘Drummer Boy’?” and guide them to make connections about the war. As students think about these questions, I would ask them to jot down their ideas by using the Library’s Primary Source Analysis Tool to help guide their thinking about what they’ve noticed and how these children were affected by the events of the Civil War. These teacher resources engage students to interact and make observations on the different photographs they see, in order to fully understand Civil War from a child’s point of view, rather than that of an adult.

The Library’s primary source sets and lesson plans offer cultural content that can help younger students learn about different events that occurred during the 19th century and how these experiences shaped many historical figures’ lives. Students can make connections with their peers to gain a new perspective. There are so many different topics that these lesson plans provide information on, such as the Reconstruction era, the Civil War, African American history, child labor, the Bill of Rights, and many more. This internship has helped expand my knowledge of how the Library of Congress provides tools to support all teachers, especially during this time of virtual instruction.

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