It has been a long time since I've blogged. I think that comes from the business of my schedule as the year wore on. Patching together two part time education jobs, for about 13 hours a day, as well as trying to maintain some semblance of progress on my online Masters degree left me with little time for everything else. I stopped blogging, I stopped tweeting, and I stopped pretty much everything else non-essential. It is now summer time and I actually logged into twitter again today. I am also blogging for the first time in ages. What I would really like to talk about is the real spur to getting back into the metaphorical saddle of connecting with fellow educators.
Towards the end of June I was able to participate in a four day workshop with fellow educators to learn to effectively use the Library of Congress website. There were eighteen of us ranging from a third grade teacher to secondary teachers, with the majority probably being in the middle school bracket. Over the course of the first couple of days we were led through some of the features that the website, loc.gov, has to offer. The focus was on primary sources and how they can be used in the classroom. We then had a few days off with the goal of writing a lesson plan based on primary sources we found on the website.
When we came back, we had two days to present, discuss, and tweak our lesson plans, which will be posted here: http://educationextras.com/LibraryofCongressLessons.html. Every lesson plan idea I saw was solid and many were excellent. I was reminded once again how great it is to work with, have discussions with, and collaborate with other educators, which led me back to my #edchats and blogging. Thanks to all the great folks at the workshop for reminding me of that.
As a note about the workshop, I found good and bad in dealing with the Library of Congress website. There is a ton of great information and primary sources available there. That said, they are still working on ease of use as they continue to digitize thousands upon thousands of primary sources. The search tool functions much like Google, but doesn't do as good of a job of sifting useable results for you. It can be better to go to Google Advanced, tell it to search just loc.gov, and then type your search term. There are already a lot of great lessons already planned for teachers on the site. If you would like to plan your own, be careful in choosing a topic. The first topic I looked at had very little in the way of useable primary sources. The second topic had so much that I would have spent hours looking through everything. My third topic choice was a great fit, and I think led to a pretty good, useable lesson. As always, feel free to comment, tweet, or e-mail me in response to this post.