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Library of Congress Online Conference: It’s free, it’s awesome, and you’ll walk away smarter

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Need some free PD on using primary sources? Need some awesome PD on using primary sources? Want to get smarter? Be a better teacher?

Then you need to join the first Library of Congress online conference for educators on October 27-28 from 4-8 ET. You can pick and choose when you attend and what specifically looking to learn. Titled The Library of Congress and Teachers Unlocking the Power of Primary Sources, the conference has some incredible speakers and sessions. So pick and choose your favorites from below and be prepared to learn a ton.

The keynote speaker will be the distinguished photographer Carol Highsmith, who will discuss her decades-long project of documenting the United States in a one-hour conversation with Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.

Over the course of those two days, there will be 15 one-hour sessions facilitated by Library specialists, instructional experts from the Library’s Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium, and other recognized K-12 leaders. Highlights include:

  • Wide range of topics from literacy and historical thinking to historic newspapers and the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Focus on finding and using primary sources;
  • Earn certificates for participating in sessions;
  • Each session will be recorded and certificates will also be available for a limited time to those who view the recordings;
  • Two strands, “Resource Spotlight” and “Instructional Strategies.”

Each session will be recorded and certificates will also be available for a limited time to those who view the recordings.

Register for individual sessions by selecting titles below:

Tuesday, October 27
4:00 – 4:50

Keynote: Preserving Our Communities with Photography
Join renowned photographer Carol Highsmith in a conversation with Chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, Helena Zinkham. Explore the reaches of Highsmith’s archive as she discusses her work and her motivation for dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright-free access.

5:00 – 5:50

Veterans History Project
The Veterans History Project (VHP) collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Hear from Monica Mohindra from VHP on how your students can become involved in using and collecting stories from veterans in your community.

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions
When students learn how to ask their own questions, they both practice a foundational research skill, and set a learning agenda and prepare to work more effectively with a range of primary sources. This session offers an experiential introduction to the Question Formulation Technique, a protocol to help students become question-askers, sophisticated thinkers and self-directed learners.

6:00 – 6:50

Working with Visuals
A photograph, poster, drawing, or painting always has more than one story to tell. It may document a moment in time, but it also may offer an opinion on that event through the choices of the artist. Information literacy demands observing visual sources, questioning, and comparing the information from multiple sources. Join Library staff for approaches to researching with photographs.

Reading Like a Historian
This interactive session will explore the Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum and the research behind this free online resource. Participants will examine a sample lesson plan and consider how to implement these materials in their classrooms.

7:00 – 7:50

What’s New at the Library of Congress?
Join Library staff for lightning updates on new and enhanced features: teacher tools, professional development; primary sources; world culture artifacts; current legislation; social media; community connections and partnerships. Share discoveries!

Beyond the Bubble: A New Generation of Historical Thinking Assessments
During this interactive session, participants will learn how to use free online assessments designed by the Stanford History Education Group that incorporate documents from the Library of Congress’s archives. Participants will examine assessments, rubrics, and sample student responses.

Wednesday, October 28
4:00 – 4:50

Teaching the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Primary sources can engage students in developing a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement and its historical context. Library of Congress education experts will guide participants in considering audience, context, and point of view when identifying primary sources from the Library’s exhibition, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom, for classroom teaching.

Provoking Inquiry Through Primary Sources
As educators, we have answered the question: Why inquiry? This session will engage participants in answering the question: Why use primary sources during inquiry? We will investigate ways that primary sources bring inquiry alive in our students: creation of intellectual space, building authentic connections to the real world, integration of inquiry skills, and the development of empathy.

5:00 – 5:50

World Digital Library
Imagine giving your students free, unlimited access to treasures from cultural institutions from around the world. They might examine an ancient manuscript for small but important details and then learn more about its significance from an expert, or search for additional items from the same time or place. Join Library experts to learn more about free primary sources from the World Digital Library.

Young Learners Explore Library of Congress Images
This presentation describes research-informed strategies to foster early childhood and primary grade students’ multiple literacies through the developmentally appropriate use of primary sources from the Library of Congress.

6:00 – 6:50

Teaching with Historical Newspapers
Join the Library of Congress education and newspaper experts to learn about the digitized historic newspapers available through the Chronicling America program. Explore teaching strategies for using the materials with students.

Building Literacy Muscle with Primary Sources
Strengthen teaching by incorporating primary sources to build student literacy skills while also engaging them, increasing content knowledge and promoting inquiry. This session shares examples of instructional strategies which use diverse and thoughtfully selected primary sources to develop understanding, academic language and fluency, freeing students to focus on content!

7:00 – 7:50

Library of Congress 101 for Teachers
Explore what the Library of Congress has for teachers, including lesson plans and primary source sets, webinars and professional development opportunities, social media channels, and more. Share your top tips and favorite resources, and learn from others.

Making Thinking Visible with Primary Sources
This session will model how to use visible thinking strategies to enhance the power of primary sources in your classroom. A wide variety of easy-to-use routines will be introduced. Two educators will provide examples of how they have used these routines with primary sources to help students learn to think and think to learn.


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. From Washington State, the cloudy side, thank you so much for posting this. I have grown professionally from all the things you’ve posted over the years, but never took the time to say thank you.

    October 21, 2015
    • glennw #


      Thanks so much for the kind words! That means a lot knowing that some of my stuff has been useful.

      (BTW, I love the cloudy side of the US! My son graduated from Seattle Pacific University this spring and recently moved to Eugene, Oregon. It is such a beautiful area.)

      Have a great week!


      October 21, 2015
  2. Jeff Ellmaker #

    Awesome. Nice post, Glenn!

    October 25, 2015
    • glennw #


      I’m hoping I can sit in on at least a few sessions. And I love that they’re recording all of them – for teachers, it can be difficult finding a time to attend!

      Have a great week!


      October 26, 2015
      • Jeff Ellmaker #

        Any info on when or how the LoC is sharing these recorded sessions?

        November 2, 2015
      • glennw #


        I had the same question. I went to the site hoping to see links to the archived sessions and couldn’t find anything either. Have fingers crossed that they will be up soon.


        November 3, 2015

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