Preliminary data from Center for Schools and Communities “The Power of Perspectives: Teaching with Primary Sources to Engage English Learners in Critical Democratic Discussions” reveal positive and significant changes in teachers’ attitudes regarding the potential of English learners to achieve grade-level academic success.
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2019 – The U.S. Library of Congress hosted the annual Teaching with Primary Sources Power of Perspectives Consortium Meeting. The Consortium includes local, state, regional and national educational organizations that are implementing the teaching with primary sources framework and the Library’s digital collections in innovative ways to enrich the education of K-12 students across the United States as well as to engage teachers in high-quality professional learning experiences.
Primary sources are the raw materials of history – original documents and objects, which were created at the time under study – they are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.
The Center for Schools and Communities entered the Consortium through a regional grant competition, in which the Center’s program, “The Power of Perspectives: Teaching with Primary Sources to Engage English learners in Critical Democratic Discussions” was awarded funding to support the development and implementation of a TPS program that places English learners at the focus. The project seeks to leverage students’ natural interest in everyday social and cultural phenomena, connect phenomena across time and space via historical phenomena mapping, and engage in the practice of arguing from evidence via substantive democratic discussions.
As demographics continue to shift across the United States, schools that historically have not enrolled English learners are faced with meeting the needs of this unique population for the first time. The Center for Schools and Communities program brings together leading organizations to leverage a dynamic collaboration. Partners include the Collaboration of Educational Services in Massachusetts, Maryland Humanities in Maryland, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Teaching Tolerance, the nation’s leader in anti-bias education. The program seeks to assist teachers in developing their knowledge and skill to implement innovative practices that will better equip content teachers and English as a Second Language program specialists to facilitate English learners’ development of grade-level academic content and English language development simultaneously within a social justice framework.
At the Consortium meeting on September 19, the Center’s statewide multilingual education and instructional design project manager, Andrea Kolb, presented on the program’s goals, implementation strategies and collaborative model as well as program outcomes in terms of teachers’ learning. The presentation began with attention to what we have learned and where we are now before shifting focus to work yet to be done. The group explored ways national organizations represented in the Consortium can collaborate to further advance the work of designing equitable educational practices and experiences for English learners nationwide.
The pedagogical framework that is articulated in the Center’s program is an intentional and strategic distillation of notable theories and conceptual models, including culturally responsive teaching, dialogic instruction, inquiry-based teaching and critical pedagogy. The teaching practices developed through this program are not yet mainstream, but the impact and influence of this content are undeniable. Preliminary data analysis from the Center’s program reveals positive and significant changes in teachers’ attitudes regarding the potential of English learners to achieve grade-level academic success as well as advanced skill in designing culturally and linguistically responsive instruction that engages ELs’ in dialogic inquiry, taking, and argumentation based on grade-level content; while at the same time attending to English oral language development.
In its role as a convener, the Library’s goal for Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium Meeting is to support and amplify existing programs and practices, leveraging the collective assets of the Consortium to strengthen a nationwide vision for capacity building. More than 100 participants representing the organizations that comprise the Consortium and Library of Congress staff engaged in rich knowledge sharing and discussion throughout the two-day convening.
The majority of the convening featured four projects from across the United States, including the Center’s “Power of Perspectives,” which served as the basis for ongoing dialogue among Consortium members. Kolb’s presentation highlighted the immense gap in professional development and curricular and instructional materials for content teachers of English learners. Conversations are underway to forge new partnership between the Center and other Consortium members to advance work in this area.
Kolb will present the Center’s program and her research findings at the upcoming WIDA national conference in Rhode Island in October, the National Council for the Social Studies in Texas in November and the National Council for History Education in Ohio in March.
About the Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium
The Library of Congress awards grants to a diverse array of educational organizations including universities, historical societies, foundations, for-profits companies, and school districts that assist in the design and delivery of the TPS program. These grantees, who comprise the TPS Consortium, deliver TPS professional development and academic courses, design curriculum and apps/online interactives using primary sources from the Library’s collections, and conduct research on the classroom use of primary sources. These programs and products that have the potential to make notable positive impacts on K-12 education.
Consortium members include the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), National Council for History Education (NCHE), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Barat Education Foundation, iCivics, Indiana University, KidCitizen, Mississippi State University, PBS NewsHour, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Central Florida, University of South Carolina and Waynesburg University, among others.