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ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES  March 2006, Week 2

ARCHIVES March 2006, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Teachers and Archivists (was Friday Funny)

From:

Danna Bell-Russel <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Danna Bell-Russel <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Mar 2006 08:12:10 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (163 lines)

Good morning,

Thank you Susan for your comments. I agree with you totally.

I recently gave up most of my reference duties to join the Educational 
Outreach team at the Library. I am the only archivist in a team of 
primarily former teachers and school librarians. We exhibit at a couple 
of teacher conferences a year as well as doing presentations around the 
country and locally. Listening to the teachers (and in the case of the 
DC Public Schools, the curriculum development and administrative staffs) 
has been eye opening. A lot of teachers are being required to teach to 
the standards and we are getting a lot of push back to provide 
information on how specific items meet specific standards, something our 
7.5 person staff simply can't do. We're fortunate to have gotten funding 
in the past to provide instruction to K-12 educators to help them to use 
primary sources in the classroom and create lesson plans that can be 
used by teachers throughout the country.

In additon we are being stimied by testing. As part of the Song of 
America tour we had hoped to do teacher workshops at one tour stop. We 
could not because there is a two month blackout on all teacher training 
while students prepare for standards testing. The staff of the school 
district and our contacts wanted us to do something but knew that we 
would not get any participation. And that is disappointing.

Plus I found out that more and more places are phasing out Social 
Studies (in the new master plan for the DC Public Schools the focus is 
on reading and Social Studies is to be taught at least three times a 
week where as math and science get 50 minute periods every day and 
reading gets 70 or 80 minutes a day. How does that fit in with some of 
the generation issues that we discussed earlier this week).

One thing I've found is that it is handy to show teachers how they can 
fit primary sources into class activities. Using George Washington's 
account books to teach math or using Alexander Graham Bell's 
experiemental notebooks to teach science are examples I've used in 
presentations. And many science and math teachers have not given any 
thought to how to use primary sources in the classroom. I also stress 
the importance of primary sources in providing ways to do analysis and 
critical thinking, something that is required in all standards on all 
levels. I also show that you don't have to do a lot to use primary 
sources in the classroom. One of my favorite workshops we offer is 
called the Spy Map and General Washington 
<http://memory.loc.gov/learn/educators/video/spymap_ovrvw.pdf> and it 
uses three primary sources to discuss the battle of Princeston. Students 
love that one of the maps was drawn by a young male spy probably around 
their age 
<http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/gmd:@filreq(@field(NUMBER+@band(g3814p+ct000076))+@field(COLLID+armap))>.

Yes I do know I work at the Library of Congress but I know that some of 
what we are doing can be applied to even one person archives. Find out 
what the teachers need. Find out if you have a couple of documents to 
meet that need and share that information with the teachers. If you 
can't reach the teachers talk to the education coordinator at your local 
museum or historical society. They will either help put you in touch or 
might be willing to team up to do a joint presentation.

I agree with Susan that the archives community needs to reach out to the 
K-12 community. I know that NARA publishes a regular column in Social 
Education, the journal of the National Council of Social Studies and 
their education team also edited a special issue last year. What about 
columns in the OAH magazine specifically for history teachers? There are 
local chapters of organizations like NCSS. Can archivists participate in 
them?

Going back to Katie's original question, I know other parts of the 
Library are reaching out to the undergraduate/scholarly community with 
limited success. (Our team has been asked to focus on the K-12 teacher 
audience). When I was with my old unit I saw mostly library science 
students with the occassional group of pre-service teachers. We also did 
a video-conference for students studying for principal certification 
where we showed items relating to the Brown vs Board case where we had 
the curator of our exhibit on Brown as well as myself and our reference 
specialist on legal materials. We got lots of really wonderful questions 
regarding the sources and a few requests for video-conferences from some 
of the participants. One side note from my days as a bibliographic 
instruction librarian, I did actually have to work really hard to get 
teachers to interupt their course work to get the students in for 
instruction in using the collections. Most faculty felt they had barely 
enough time to cover the requirements let alone bring staff in to talk 
about using the library and archives. I wonder if it's the same in other 
repositories?

I know we are all swamped but I think a few steps could pay off with big 
dividends for our repositories. If you have questions or want to see 
examples of our lesson plans or other activities let me know.

Danna Bell-Russel
Educational Outreach Team
Library of Congress

Susan D'Entremont wrote:

>Dear Katie,
>
>My organization has been wrestling with this question, as it relates to K-12
>teachers, for a couple of years.  At the beginning, we naively set out to
>focus on the publicity side of things.  You know, do some sort of listing to
>let teachers know what local archivists have, set up roundtables so teachers
>and archivists can talk to each other, and so forth.
>
>We quickly found out that the question is a lot more complex than we
>realized.  Teachers and archivists have extremely different languages, work
>environments, needs and expectations.  And the environment that teachers are
>working under has changed enormously in the past 5-10 years.  For example,
>many teachers no longer have the luxury of exploring topics in-depth.  A
>topic that they might have spent a week on ten years ago now gets one 20-30
>minute period. So teachers are relying on text-book companies to supply them
>with primary sources, exercises and so forth. Textbooks, of course, are sold
>on the state and national level, so they have little interest in primary
>sources from a local institution.  This is just one of many roadblocks
>teachers and archivists have when working with each other.
>
>This is not to say that this isn't an important issue.  Archivists do need
>to work to do more outreach to teachers, but I think one of the first steps
>is for archivists to more fully understand the needs and wants of teachers.
>And this can't be based on work archives have done with teachers in the past
>because conditions have changed.
>
>We have received a very small grant to pay an intern to look further into
>the issue of how archivists can meet teachers needs.  She is working on the
>project now.  Contact me this summer for an update.  I expect this project
>to be only a baby step towards the larger issue, but every step counts!
>
>Oh, and I too was at the SAA session mentioned in a previous email.  I think
>it would be worth your while to contact the speakers involved.  It sounds
>like an amazing program!  However, be aware that their program may not be
>able to be replicated everywhere.  They have entire classes of students
>visit their facility during the school day several times over the course of
>the year.  I know in many places this is not feasible for funding or other
>reasons.  For instance, there are many districts in New York State that
>rarely even have field trips anymore because they do not take trips if the
>terrorism threat level rises, and they don't want to risk wasting time and
>money to plan trips that don't happen.  Us archivists definitely need to
>think of ways that we can come to students and teachers rather than the
>other way around.
>
>Susan D'Entremont
>
>Susan D'Entremont
>Regional Archivist
>Capital District Library Council
>28 Essex St 
>Albany, NY  12208
>(518) 438-2500
>www.cdlc.org
>[log in to unmask]
>
> 
>

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