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Schools look to expand learning sources

Grant would utilize Library of Congress

September 4, 2010
A grant could allow students to learn more from primary sources, adding variety to more traditional forms of instruction. During a meeting of the Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee of the Warren County School District board of directors, earlier this week members agreed to forward a grant application to the full board for approval. Waynesburg University administers the grant. According to the university’s website, a digitization initiative has made millions of resources from the Library of Congress available online. They include the letters and pictures of U.S. presidents and recorded folk music. Coordinator of Grants and Foundation Development Matthew Jones said the grant provides professional development to train teachers in use of digitized primary sources available through the LOC. He said the grant could provide as much as $20,000. Committee member Paul Yourchisin asked why teachers do not use primary sources. He also asked if they would use them more if the district received the grant. The grant encourages the use of primary sources, Jones said, and helps teachers analyze how to teach with them. It provides inquiry-based instruction, he said. Director of Secondary Education Amanda Hetrick said most people from earlier generations learned history from textbooks. Educators have started to use more primary sources, she said, particularly in Social Studies. Some now only use texts as a resource, Hetrick said. She said students engage the material more when they have to search for answers. An explanation of the grant included on the district’s website explained the project would not occur without grant funding which would provide all the money for the program. However, it also noted university officials base their decisions on the intention of an applicant to continue its program beyond the grant period which may require the district to dedicate planning time and training in the future. “The district is considering a proposal to have one or more teachers trained in TPS (Teaching with Primary Sources) uses in curricula, the legal/ethical uses of digital resources, inquiry-based instruction, and creating inquiry-based activities that include primary sources,” the explanation stated. “That person or persons would present professional development opportunities to the WCSD teaching staff on an ongoing basis.” According to the information, instruction would cover grades K-12. The statement also noted educators throughout the eastern United States could apply for the grant with applications due on a rolling timeline.


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