Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Staff development

WatchFobWhat was in Lincoln’s Pockets the night he was assassinated? 

Lincoln’s Pockets, a Library of Congress professional development activity  answers the question. These artifacts are available to teachers and students digitally in Lincoln’s Pockets, a LOC Teacher’s Page Professional Development Activity. The complete packet includes facilitator directions, participant questions, and links to the artifacts. Some objects are easily identifiable, most, such as the object on the left,  are not. (What do you think it is?)

The engaging (and easy to implement) activity generates interest and questioning as participants try to identify each object and decide what they have in common. The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the evening of his assassination are part of the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniania

Numerous museums and cultural organizations are holding special events and exhibits to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.  Remembering a Fiendish Assassination is an especially unique event sponsored by the The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. One commemorative experience will be a reenactment of Lincoln’s funeral train procession from its arrival in Springfield, Illinois, to Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. Funeral Train Reenactment website.

JohnWilkesBoothThe 10-year old Springfield museum is incredibly fascinating and educational. Visitors enter the  extensive Presidential Journeys Gallery through a replica of the White House entrance. John Wilkes Booth stands off to the side, watching the Lincoln Family, Frederick Douglas, and other White House visitors.

An especially moving exhibit is a recreation of the Ford’s Theater assassination and a recreation of Lincoln’s closed casket.

The museum utilizes extensive technology to heighten the visitation experience. A  battlefield scene is loud and intense; in another live presentations it is hard to distinguish a live actor from a hologram. The museum and nearby Lincoln sites such as his home and office are well worth the visit.  There is a lot to see in Springfield. Allow at least two days!



I recently participated in a discussion with a group of media specialists who met virtually to engage in some conversation with a few HS librarians who are actively teaching to the CCS with their teachers.  Sharing was facilitated by author/speaker and former school media specialist Toni Buzzeo.

School media specialists want to be involved and work with teachers, but many are overwhelmed. They want to know how to collaborate with teachers and what to do to get started.  Several shared what they are doing. Examples include focusing on standards, what resources will support them, and meeting with teachers. Others are updating media center web sites to meet new needs, aggressively updating collections, and acquiring more resources to meet the CCS informational text requirements.

Throughout our discussion I thought of how this is not that different from what we’ve long been doing– collaborating with teachers to integrate and infuse information literacy throughout the curriculum. I would apply my “work with the living” philosophy and reach out to those who are interested in trying new things and using new resources such as digital primary resources from the Library of Congress.

But, what may be familiar is not all the same.  High stakes testing and the emphasis on accountability in the classroom and media center place a greater importance on successful and educational meaningful collaboration and integration.  The CCS standards are more complex and more far-reaching than the  others.

After our discussion ended I came across The Common Core Companion: The Standards Decoded, Grades 6-8. It’s a very practical book that makes CCS very understandable.

I am impressed with this book! It clearly depicts the alignment/integration of Common Core Language arts standards in reading, science/technical subjects, speaking/listening and writing.  Many clear examples, including several involving technology are included.  The format and layout clearly shows the cross-disciplinary nature of CCS.  The easy-to-read bulleted text and generous note-taking spaces are a plus. I shared the book with a social studies teacher/future media specialist. She instantly saw its potential as a tool for her own teaching and as a PLC leader.

I examine many books as a reviewer for LMC magazine; this one stands out! Debbie Abilock said Burke’s a pro – his teaching strategies and student-focused instructions are a proactive, intelligent approach to synthesizing and integrating information while avoiding plagiarism.


Absolutely! A media specialist just asked about the logistics of using Library of Congress professional development resources to deliver professional development in her own school!  The Teachers Page Build and Deliver materials and the Interactive Online Modules were both developed for that very purpose.

The PDF Build and Deliver files, along with the highly interactive multimedia materials, will help teachers and media specialists learn how to search and use The Library of Congress American Memory Collections effectively.   Both PD formats have  extensive selections of professional development resources that educators can use individually or to teach others. These resources are ready to use and free!

Engaging Students Through Photos, my guest post on Julie Greller’s  Media Specialists Guide to the Internet blog, describes adult learners participating in a photo analysis activity using Lincoln’s Pockets, a Build and Deliver Module.  You will also learn a bit about ready-to-use Primary Source Sets and Primary Source Analysis Tools.  The Power of Primary Sources tab above has journal articles on these PD  tools.


growingschoolsStaff development is an important, exciting role for school library media specialists. Media specialists have a unique perspective of the school and curriculum; they work with all learners and staff and have the expertise in technologies, literacies and information resources.

I was excited to see that Noodle Tools founder Debbie Abilock, along with co-editors Kristin Fontichiaro and Violet Harada have compiled sixteen essays by a diverse group of contributors that address both the why and practicality of the staff development role. I enjoyed the “real-life” examples, tips, and sample lessons.

This welcome book is available from Libraries Unlimited. It’s a great addition to all professional development collections and for media specialists who want to be instructional leaders and impact change. It will be a wonderful resource for me as an online educator.

A few personal real-life examples.

Would you like to see student projects kicked up a notch and move students more towards inquiry based learning? Looking for ideas to share with other educators.   The Library of Congress Teachers Page Build and Deliver professional development section has two activities for inquiry training session.

Understanding the inquiry process
Participants will work in groups to define the inquiry process. The facilitator will lead a discussion on the Stripling Model of Inquiry. After reading an article, participants will reflect on incorporating inquiry into their instructional setting. After reading an article, participants will reflect on incorporating inquiry into their instructional setting (45 minutes)

Primary sources and inquiry
After participating in a model inquiry activity using a primary source, participants independently practice documenting their own inquiry learning while using primary sources. The group will discuss ways to create inquiry activities with primary sources. (2 hours)

These PDF  materials are ready for you to use in a professional development setting. Simply go to http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/tpsdirect/pdplanbuilder/ to select an activity. Download  the files, become familiar with the resources, and plan your professional development session.   Everything you need  to lead a staff development session is right there, and free!

Learn more.  The Power of Primary Sources Part 2: Build your own Professional Development

It’s Personal! Transforming Pedagogy with Technology was the theme of this year’s very well attended annual TIES technology conference.   As always I  came home with new resources and ideas to incorporate in online courses.

Web Tools for Grades 4-8 In-Depth Inquiry captured my attention; two teachers shared easy to implement ideas such as  using Todaysmeet.com and primary sources to encourage engaged, thinking discussion.

I was excited by a first grade teacher’s creative and helpful classroom blog.  Tom Deris shared great suggestions for successfully communicating with families.

Jen Legatt from Farmington and I shared the MN Teacher Loop Resource Center.   MN Loop is a searchable database of over 9000 resources aligned with MN content standards, NET-S Technology Standards, MEMO information and Technology Literacy Standards, and the Common Core Standards.  Educators liked the standards alignment.

Keeping up, keeping it personal —  Ipads, eReaders and smart phones were everywhere!  The former email stations available for attendees are now charging stations. Its fun to see the changes each year.  As always, connecting with friends and colleagues, making new friends and meeting an online student in person was the conference highlight.

Mary Alice and Kellie

” Mary Alice can do the e-newsletter; she has the tech skills; She got us all using Google Docs. ”  It’s fun to be recognized for my tech skills and glad to put them to use in many ways.  But. . . .it’s all relative!  

Someone always knows and can do more than us; someone always knows and can do less.   Working as a school media specialist and being “there” when technology first arrived has served me well. Tech  skills are valuable in my “new job” teaching online classes and volunteering with community organizations!   There is always something new to learn and do!  I just learned how to use a  cash register computer system! That was a completely new experience; my “built-in” transferable tech skills made it easy!   (Helping students acquire — and use– transferable skills is one of the most important things media specialists can do is help students learn!)

There will always be tech changes to cope with, learn from, and growth with.   Change and learning never stop.  We sometimes learn from situations we least expect to!   It’s all relative and that’s good to remember  if we feel overwhelmed  or  think “I’ll never need/do this.”

A top-notch resource for helping us know how is  A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Interne   New Jersey media specialist Julie Greller helps us learn with her  collections of links and notes about a wide array of web 2.0 tools and useful resources for educators.     Don’t miss her extensive and thoughtful collection of resources.

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