Library of Congress Grant Benefits Current and Future Teachers

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford College has received continued funding for a grant from the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC).

The new annual award for $160,000 in 2011 will help teach both prospective and current educators how to use the library’s vast collection of online primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction. The college is one of only 26 institutions in 12 states to be accepted into the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program.

TPS is a federal teacher training project that teaches instructors how to access primary sources—actual records that have survived from the past like letters, photographs, articles of clothing and music. They are different from secondary sources, which are written account of events sometime after they happen.

“This is the third year of Rockford College's association with the Teaching with Primary Sources program. It has become a vital part of our teacher education program. Both pre-service and in-service teachers are utilizing the Library's massive collection of digitized primary sources as they plan for instruction,” says Debra Dew, Ph.D., project director and associate professor of education at Rockford College

According to Dr. Dew, some 15 million primary sources have been put online by the Library of Congress, and more are being added every day. The additional $160,000 grant supports the previous year’s funding for the program, and will be used to provide professional development workshops, compensate workshop presenters, pay stipends to faculty who integrate TPS projects in their courses and cover salary expenses. The cumulative total of the grant has reached $620,000 since it was put in place in 2008.

As part of the TPS project, area K-12 teachers will also have a chance to learn more about teaching with primary sources through face-to-face classroom instruction, workshops, and seminars. The goal is to make educators in Northern Illinois fully aware of the opportunities and value of LOC primary resources.

Education experts point to distinct benefits from using primary sources. Jacki Lutzow, third grade teacher at Marsh Elementary in Rockford, says “I have begun using the LOC as a springboard for many subjects, and as a result, the majority of my students will not only have a wider range of experiences; they will have a solid strategy for answering extended questions on the state testing.”

Susan Uram, who teaches at Spectrum School in Rockford notes, “TPS was hands down the most valuable graduate class I have taken while working on my masters degree. Witnessing my students discover, make comparisons, and synthesize information from primary sources has been a leap in the right direction for all of us. TPS was the tool that helped me breathe the life of the past into my classroom today.”

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