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TPS and Inquiry Learning

I’m sure you know that TPS is the powerful and very useful Library of Congress program called Teaching with Primary Sources. But sometimes it’s easy to forget about all the resources that the TPS people have put together for social studies teachers.

One of the most useful things you can find is their Teaching with Primary Sources Quarterly. Each Quarterly focuses on a specific topic with helpful articles, links to sources, and grade level lesson plans. This quarter’s topic is using primary source activities that align to the Common Core.

But dig a bit deeper into their archive and you can find some very cool ideas and resources. I went back and pulled up the Summer 2009 Quarterly and reviewed some very nice stuff on Inquiry Learning.

Remember that this was way before the Common Core . . . back when we were still deep in the hard core state assessment, multiple choice is good for kids era. And in the midst of all of that, the LOC was working hard to support teachers looking for high quality instructional strategies and ideas. The Summer 2009 Quarterly is perhaps even more useful today, as we are all looking for ways to help kids ask good questions and develop great answers.

Barbara Stripling, former president of the American Association of School Librarians, wrote the lead article for the issue and defined Inquiry Learning as:

. . . a process of active learning that is driven by questioning and critical thinking. The understandings that students develop through inquiry are deeper and longer lasting than any pre-packaged knowledge delivered by teachers to students.

Sounds pretty Common Corish to me. She also included a visual of how the process can be structured in your classroom:

Barabara provides specific examples of how to use primary sources as part of each of the six steps in the process. Other articles in the issue include research on Inquiry Learning, other materials / resources as well as elementary and secondary lesson plans.

Head on over. The content is three years old but still very relevant to what we’re trying to do in Social Studies.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you for passing on your recent rediscovery of the Stripling inquiry model that we use in our TPS workshops, Glenn. I love it when an excellent resource finds new life on Twitter, and it’s because you took the time to search the archives that still more teachers will benefit. In 2012, the Teaching with Primary Sources Quarterly has also been rethought, redesigned, and renamed as The Teaching with Primary Sources Journal. You’ll find the current issue here: The entire issue illustrates how primary sources can support teaching to meet the Common Core State Standards, so you were right when you said, “Sounds pretty Common Corish to me!”

    You can find more information on the TPS program here: Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a PD opportunity in your neighborhood. TPS training is always free and always fabulous!

    September 12, 2012
    • glennw #

      Thanks for the heads up on the name change. Love it no matter what it’s called!


      September 12, 2012
  2. Bernadette #

    Any help with primary sources for world history teachers? (I teach up to the Middle Ages)

    September 22, 2012
  3. Cheryl Davis from California answered this very question as a test case for a new TPS Network (currently in beta, so still unavailable to the general public–stay tuned!):

    World History teachers can find a number of resources at the Library of Congress. If you are looking for specific content to meet a state standard start on the Library of Congress Teacher’s Page: and click the link that says Find classroom materials that meet your state standards. Select your State, then grade and subject. For example when selecting California, 6th Grade and Social Studies and clicking the Search button there were a number of Standards listed. From those standards click on the resources offered such as Classroom lesson or Collection Connection to get a detailed description of that resource.

    Also from the top left box on the Library of Congress Teacher’s Page, try putting in the search term “World History”. This brings up additional resources related to World History. From there you’ll find teaching and reference resources and primary and secondary resources.

    Also from the Library of Congress Home Page you’ll find a link to the World Digital Library (Use the search box on that site to find resources that may be helpful in your lesson.

    At the Library of Congress Summer Institute there was a focus on World History and a pdf of those lessons and resources can be found here: There is also a wonderful primary source set from the Library of Congress on Maps from the World Digital Library with links to a teacher’s guide and primary source analysis tools:

    September 24, 2012

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