Tip of the Week: Teaching with Primary Sources Teacher Network
Most social studies and history teachers are aware of the vast amount of resources, lesson plans, and teaching materials available at the Library of Congress. You can spend hours and hours browsing through their Teachers page, their standards aligned lessons, professional development tools, and their primary source sets. Or their teaching blog. Or their ten Twitter accounts and other social media tools. Or Today in History. You might spend time at their Places in the News page. Or perhaps their site for elementary kids. Maybe their interactive iBooks. And if you get really lost, you can always just Ask a Librarian.
You get the idea.
They have tons of stuff.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve been missing out on another Library of Congress related tool. Titled the TPS Teachers Network, this particular tool provides a way for you to connect with other social studies and history teachers to talk, share, and basically just nerd out about social studies stuff. Think Facebook, Pinterest, and an modern email listserv all rolled into one.
The Network was created with grant funds provided by the Library as part of their Teaching with Primary Sources program. The TPS program funds projects around the country through three regional offices – these regional offices run larger programs but they also fund smaller projects that help train teachers and students in the use of LOC resources. (So . . . looking for some funding to provide professional development in your district? This would be the place to go.)
The Western region of the TPS program developed and maintains the TPS Teachers Network and it’s hosted by the Metropolitan State University of Denver. A long way around to say that funding from the Library of Congress and a lot of hard work by the folks at the Midwest Region (led by Mary Johnson) have created a pretty awesome tool.
So what exactly is the TPS Teachers Network?
The TPS Teachers Network is a social media platform that welcomes, connects, and engages teachers in a sustained conversation and ongoing professional learning within a community of peers to improve teaching and learning using Library of Congress primary sources.
I learned about the Network just last week during a couple of days that I got to spend with others in the TPS program. And after playing with it for a few hours, I think it’s an incredible powerful idea. Obviously, I’ve just started using it but see huge potential in how it will connect me with other teachers and resources.
I don’t know where you are in your own Personal Learning Network. Maybe you’re using Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest. And you’ve built up a network of other social studies and history teachers. Nothing wrong with that. But the TPS Teacher Network specifically ties you to other people in the discipline. It also ties you specifically to the millions of resources hosted by the Library of Congress and it ties you specifically to the people who use and manage those resources.
At its most basic, the TPS Teachers Network provides an opportunity to join groups discussing a variety of topics such as teaching English Language Learners, the upcoming election, the student as historian, and supporting literacy through the use of primary sources. Share your ideas and lessons and borrow from others. You are also able to create online albums of LOC and personal primary and secondary resources, sharing those with students and other teachers. This feature alone is worth the trip.
Be sure to track me down and add me as a friend after you’ve settled in.
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