Summer Teacher Institute

teachers discuss map project
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Teaching Teachers

A common question on the first day of school is “What did you do this summer?” This year some teachers from across the U.S. will have an interesting answer.  More than 170 spent time on Capitol Hill learning new ways to connect with students.

Every year, the Library of Congress gives select K-12 educators the chance to attend a professional development program like no other. During each of seven 5-day Summer Teacher Institutes, participants work with Library education specialists and subject matter experts to learn effective classroom practices for using primary sources such as maps, prints and photographs, documents, sheet music, and sound recordings. They also explore some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.

“I definitely am going into this upcoming school year with a ton of new ideas,”  Ryan Glassman, a teacher at Westview High School in Goshen, Indiana, said of his experience at the Summer Teacher Institute. Among other skills, the institute gave Glassman the tools to efficiently search the Library of Congress’s massive holdings. “The Library offers so much that it can be intimidating to even try to look for documents.”

The Library of Congress is truly a “the mother lode” of valuable information, said institute participant Melissa Nurrenbrock, a building principal at Genesis School in New Port Richey, Florida. The institute helped Nurrenbrock re-imagine, among other things, how she might teach a lesson on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. “How much more interesting it would be for them to read the explorers’ original journals, to follow the actual maps created along the journey, and to examine a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis in 1803,” she noted.

Beyond inspiring new lesson plans, the institute re-charges many participants’ passion for teaching. “When we are enthusiastic about our subject, that enthusiasm is contagious to our students- and they remember the lesson,” said Kathy Lehman, a librarian at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia.

For more information about Summer Teacher Institutes, visit the Library of Congress’s website. Application information for 2013 institutes will be available this fall. To receive information about upcoming Library of Congress education events including teacher institutes, subscribe to the library’s email list.