main content starts hereMohonasen summer teacher institute to help connect students with local history through the Library of Congress

| February 26, 2019
interior of the Library of Congress

An interior view of the Main Reading Room from an overlook at the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is shown on. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mohonasen Schools will be hosting a three-day institute this summer to help social studies teachers design and implement inquiry-based lessons for students using primary sources from the Library of Congress.

At the free institute, some two dozen grade 4-12 social studies teachers from Schenectady County will engage in an extensive exploration of the primary sources available on the Library of Congress website and learned and practiced strategies that allow students to analyze historical artifacts and develop historical content knowledge through inquiry-based learning experiences.

The work, funded in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University, is designed to support districts with the implementation of inquiry based instructional practices that are at the heart of the new New York State Social Studies Framework.

In an inquiry-based social studies classroom, students analyze a variety of sources, both primary and secondary, to develop an understanding of the past, explained Tasha Anderson, Mohonasen’s Academic Administrator for APPR, ELA, Social Studies, ENL and School Library. Through this work students investigate the past and use their skills of historical analysis to determine reliability of a source. In this way, students learn to use evidence-based reasoning to develop an understanding of a historical event or time period.

Anderson prepared a successful grant application to fund this year’s summer institute. She is also overseeing teacher recruitment for the institute. An application process is now underway to select this year’s participants. The deadline to submit an application is May 15.

During these summer sessions in July and August, educators will explore inquiry-based learning experiences and develop the skills to design lessons and units of study using primary sources and inquiry learning.

These sessions will also include visits to Schenectady historical sites maintained by the Schenectady Historical Society (SHS). The SHS museum and library, the Brouwer House, and the Mabee Farm Historic Site will connect the national issues teachers are investigating through Library of Congress primary sources with local history.

During the fall and winter of the 2019-2020 school year, the teachers will then implement their inquiry units and participate in monthly after-school check-in sessions (in person or online). The sessions will provide the opportunity for teachers to ask questions and get feedback.

Also, at Mohonasen’s March 2020 professional development day, participants will meet for the day to present their units to one another, share student-level work from implementation and share challenges and successes. This will provide an opportunity for the teachers to support each other and provide positive feedback and ideas for improving the units.