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This Month: TPS Collective and TPS Unconference

As we all prepare for back to school and fall teaching loads, this month we have an update from the Teaching with Primary Sources Collective site and a recap on the August 2nd Teaching with Primary Sources Unconference. Check out the new Notes from the Field on the TPS Collective for inspiration. Feeling burnt out or struggling to find new ideas for outreach across multiple audiences? Know that you are not alone! Read the recap of the Unconference below to learn more about the attendee driven sessions and what topics seem to keep cropping up in our field.

Next month we will dive deeper into teaching and lesson planning prep. You are invited to participate in our Twitter Chat on preparing for classes on September 11th 10am PT/ 11am MT/ 12pm CT/ 1pm ET. Follow along with our hashtag #rbmsioc during the chat or share your instruction and outreach questions, successes, thoughts, etc. at anytime!

Teaching with Primary Sources Collective: https://rbms.info/tpscollective/

Updates from the Teach with Primary Sources (TPS) Collective Site


As we continue to roll out the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Collective site, we’re proud to launch Notes from the Field, a monthly feature which highlights practical lessons from the front lines of teaching with primary sources in thematic series of open peer-reviewed articles. These short articles explore the theory and practice of teaching with primary sources, broadly relating topics to educators and practitioners from all types of institutions, teaching all kinds of students. Currently, Notes from the Field offers articles in two series: Practical How-To and Reflective Practice. The first four articles are now live, with engaging content and inspiring commentary from experts in the field:

Practical How-To:
The Practical How-To Series offers advice and instructions that are directly applicable to any classroom environment. From document camera usage to communication strategies, learn more about how your colleagues approach their work in the classroom.
Reflective Practice:
The Reflective Practice Series provides a space for thinking about our teaching in a broader context. Articles may relate to successes and failures in the classroom, or any other aspect of teaching with primary sources and how it relates to cultural heritage fields at large.
Notes from the Field is edited by Maureen Maryanski, Kelli Hansen, and Carly Sentieri. These dedicated educators are working hard with authors on upcoming content, which includes articles on classroom arrangement and flexibility, jumping into an instruction-heavy position just out of library school, and developing ‘plug-and-play’ instruction modules. Keep an eye out for these over the fall.

Stay tuned as we roll out additional features, including the discussion forum, lesson plans, toolkits, and more.

Thanks to those readers who have already expressed interest in Notes from the Field and other areas of the TPS Collective; we are grateful for your interest and will be reaching out to you as we continue to develop the site. If you would like to serve as a contributor, editor, peer reviewer, or forum  moderator -- either now or in the future -- please fill our out our interest form!



 
People placing post-it notes on large pieces of paper to vote on unconference sessions
Unconference attendees voting on sessions

Recap: Teaching with Primary Sources Unconference, Austin, TX

An annual event since 2015, this year’s Teaching with Primary Sources Unconference was held on August 2, 2019 in Austin, Texas prior to the start of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting. Organized by a team of volunteers in conjunction with the SAA Teaching with Primary Sources subcommittee, our event this year was graciously hosted by The Harry Ransom Center. One hundred archivists and educators came together for a day of conversation and brainstorming. 

The goal of the Unconference is simple: to foster conversation about teaching with archives and special collections. The morning began with a keynote presentation from the local Flower Hill Urban Homestead Museum’s SMOOT program (Student Minds Organizing Opportunities for Teens), which engages with high school students to design programs utilizing primary sources from the site’s collections. The speakers included Tabitha Molett (Board Chair), Robin Grace Soto (Executive Director), and Adele Rankin (SMOOT volunteer and local high school student). They were followed by a brief presentation from Mary Johnson about the Library of Congress TPS Teachers Network.  

In true unconference fashion, the remainder and vast majority of the program was planned the day of based upon the interests and needs of those participating. During the morning break participants proposed and voted on session topics, and afterward the programming committee tallied votes and slotted breakout sessions into available rooms. The program consisted of three separate hour-long session blocks with 3-4 concurrent sessions in each, and discussion topics included the following: 

  • Assessment tools for teaching with primary sources 

  • Struggles with lesson planning

  • Dealing with feelings of imposter syndrome in the classroom 

  • K-12 professional development as outreach

  • Teaching with primary sources as data

  • Struggles with outreach

  • Teaching with primary sources in college/university 

  • Struggles with big groups 

  • Struggles with sensitive topics

  • Strategies for sustainability / mitigating burnout 

  • Struggles with STEM outreach

Sessions are led by volunteer facilitators, who are provided brief guidelines about beginning and guiding discussion and some principles of conduct to share with the group: respect the opinions of others, don’t interrupt other speakers, and assume the best of others’ intentions. Following the session, facilitators this year were also asked to compile a brief summary of the discussion to share with the TPS community post-conference. Below are a few of these summaries: 


The chief concern expressed by the archivists in the Struggles with STEM Outreach session was the desire to learn more about successful instructional collaborations with STEM faculty and with our internal STEM library colleagues.  Although most of the discussants were unsatisfied with current outreach efforts and collaborations, there was discussion of several successes, including projects with Schools of Nursing, environmental science, and courses about Science, Technology and Ethics.  At the end of the discussion, there was considerable optimism and many of us planned to reexamine our holdings through a markedly different conceptual prism. In fact, a municipal archivist from the West Coast was excited to revisit records of their sewer system! (Matt Turi)

The Issues with Lesson Planning session generated a lively discussion among attendees from both primary source repositories and educational institutions that seek to use primary sources in the classroom. The main challenges that arose were: the ability of archivists and institutions to effectively communicate their presence and availability to secondary-level teachers; the needs of archivists to tailor primary source lesson plans to different age levels; and the overall ability to engage students in learning how to use and take an interest in primary source material. Archivists, librarians, and educators exchanged ideas about how to address these issues, including more robust search technique instruction, use of social media resources to engage students in creative learning (for example, creating Instagram profiles for Alice in Wonderland characters), and reaching out to educators through consortium platforms. There were outstanding questions about how to tailor research instruction to different age groups, particularly middle-school classes. Overall, the session proved to be a valuable dialogue between educators and archivists and resulted in several recommendations for web resources and ideas for local engagement. (Julie McVey)

Attendees at the Struggles with Sensitive Topics session brought several unique challenges to the table, including how archivists deal with contextualizing monuments, language statements for online collections, and discussing difficult or explicit subject matter with students. Several attendees offered case studies from their own institutions, detailing both subjects they struggle with and ways they have found to address sensitive topics. For example, a few participants talked about how their archives had actively worked to facilitate discussions around topics such as human remains and tissue ethics, racist school mascots, and problematic public murals and monuments. Others brought up codes of ethics implemented at their institutions for teaching with sensitive materials and the ways those codes have succeeded or failed to provide space for a range of voices and concerns to be heard and addressed. The last half of the discussion turned to the overarching ethics of collecting, access, and power, and how to develop an ethical, actionable praxis around addressing various types of sensitive topics in archives. Participants shared ideas about community engagement, active outreach to citizen archivists, and how to fairly compensate often-marginalized groups and individuals for their participation. Despite not having clear answers to every dilemma presented, this session generated valuable conversation about how archives and archivists can address access to and engagement with difficult primary sources.  (Julie McVey)

Our session on Teaching with Primary Sources in Colleges/Universities focused on the big picture question, “Where do you start?,” posed by a young professional new to archival instruction. The first topic discussed was how to begin engaging with courses and instructors. Responses ranged from scouring course catalogs and cultivating individual relationships via coffee dates (and being patient) to developing primary source workshops for faculty or one credit primary source literacy courses for incoming freshmen. The next large topic of discussion related to specific teaching approaches and activities. A lot of emphasis was placed on understanding the instructors’ learning objectives in order to design and choose appropriate activities. The group touched upon models of efficiency, such as pre-readings or pre-recorded instruction to introduce students to archives and archival collections, as well as scaffolding instruction and assignments for students. The conversation concluded with an expressed desire for an online forum space for archivists to discuss and share instruction ideas. (Carey R. Champion)

The Strategies for Sustainability / Mitigating Burnout session generated an honest and lively discussion among attendees. Those present acknowledged that instruction burnout is a pervasive concern, especially within a group that often considers these responsibilities as a vocational calling. Finding balance requires consistent effort and support.  The group brainstormed ideas to mitigate the pressure including: playing to our strengths as instructors, developing teaching modules that can be used repeatedly, and collecting assessment data on staff time spent on all parts of the teaching life-cycle including pre and post-instruction session activities. Furthermore, the group discussed ways to maintain excitement when we often teach the same classes repeatedly and/or are overwhelmed. Ideas included: picking one new “pet” class per semester to approach, co-teaching with colleagues who bring new energy as well as varied subject and pedagogical expertise, and for repeat classes varying collections and activities used. 


 

As demonstrated by these session summaries, the TPS Unconference provides a space for open dialogue on a range of topics.  These participant-driven sessions allow for discussions of emerging ideas and on-the-ground responsiveness, which can be difficult to achieve in a typical conference session planned a year in advance.  As one attendee remarked, “I appreciate the practical takeaways from this style conference--less theory and more things I can use instantly.” The TPS Unconference planning group is always open to new members and new voices.  We will begin planning for the 6th annual TPS Unconference in Chicago at the end of 2019. Please email teachwithstuff@gmail.com if you are interested in joining our committee or if you have a venue suggestion for Chicago 2020.

 

Carrie Schwier
Outreach and Public Services Archivist
University Archives, Indiana University

Jen Hoyer
Educating Librarian
Brooklyn Connections, Brooklyn Public Library

Lindsay Anderberg
Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Librarian and Poly Archivist
Bern Dibner Library, New York University Division of Libraries

Unconference attendees organizing the session schedule
Unconference attendees organizing the session schedule

Professional Development Opportunities


Coming up soon!

Primary Source Pedagogy. September 3-28, 2019  Join instructor Robin Katz through Library Juice Academy. Registration still open!
This course is excellent for anyone preparing to teach with primary source materials. The course will utilize the new Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy as a key text. One can use this course as part of the eight-course Certificate in Library Instruction.

Music Archives Forensics: Engaging Students with Primary Source Instruction Workshop conducted as a 90-minute webinar on October 17, 2019.
This webinar discusses how instructors can help students adapt to working in an archival setting through instruction using in-class research exercises, encouraging students to learn to ask questions and solve the mystery of primary source material.

Teaching with Primary Sources: How to Design for Active Learning. October 24, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Early Registration cut off date is September 25, 2019!
This all-day introductory course is available through the SAA. It is designed for practicing librarians, archivists, and museum professionals who are responsible for teaching with collections, as well as managers and administrators responsible for instruction programs.

 

Calls for Papers

ACRL/NY 2019 Annual Symposium, Call for Posters December 6, 2019, Baruch College, City University of New York. (Submittal deadline September 15, 2019)
Outside of the Box: Redefining Ethical Innovation in the Academic Library
For this year's ACRL/NY Symposium, posters are sought for new and ethically informed practices in the academic library. Potential topics include (but are not limited to):
  • Public Services and Instruction: new and creative types of reference and instruction initiatives
  • Acquisitions/Collections Development: outreach & curating of collections

Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA 2020) sessions accepting abstracts (deadline September 30th)
Teaching (with) Primary Sources

This roundtable welcomes theoretical and practical contributions discussing the use of manuscripts, printed books, and all sorts of primary sources in the teaching of literature at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We welcome contributions from teachers, professors, librarians, and scholars from any field of the humanities, interested in the pedagogical uses of primary sources in and outside the classroom.
Transformative Pedagogy: From Conformity to Critical Thinking in the College Classroom
Drawing upon the notion of ‘engaged pedagogy’ (hooks 1994), this roundtable aims to open an interdisciplinary discussion across the humanities about critical pedagogies that promote new ways of teaching and learning and transform the college classroom into a communal space that stimulates critical thinking rather than conformity to satisfy pre-set expectations. Considering the content and nature of the material under discussion, humanities disciplines provide an invaluable site for self-exploration and growth like no other, challenging traditional ways of being and knowledge through language, literature, film, art, etc. We invite proposals that explore ideas, strategies, projects, and practices that address the question of community, student-teacher engagement, diversity and difference, and critical thinking within and outside the classroom. 

Currents in Teaching and Learning, Spring issue (digital pedagogies) - December 15th

Currents in Teaching and Learning, a peer-reviewed electronic journal that fosters exchanges among reflective teacher-scholars across the disciplines, welcomes submissions for its Spring 2020 issue (Volume 12, Number 2). We consider all submissions that address new approaches to theories and practices of teaching and learning.

Each year we release two issues of Currents, an open-ended Fall issue and a themed issue in the Spring. We welcome all teaching and learning-related submissions for the Fall Issues.

The theme for the Spring 2020 issue is “Digital Pedagogies.” With their proliferation, diversification, and ever-growing importance in students’ lives, digital technologies present a limitless horizon of opportunities and challenges for educators. As emerging technologies disrupt established spaces, dynamics, and institutions of learning, it becomes ever more urgent for instructors to reflect critically on how to incorporate digital tools and mediums into pedagogical practices.

Some questions that might be addressed include (but are not limited to):

  • How do digital technologies inform issues of accessibility, inclusiveness, and diversity in higher education?
  • In what ways do digital pedagogies shape or reshape dynamics, structures, and hierarchies that are embedded in the academic learning environment?
  • Are there strategies and concepts that can guide instructors in aligning the bewildering array of emerging technologies with fundamental principles of rigorous learning?
  • How do we pedagogically navigate the intersection of digital media and information literacy?
  • Are there demonstrably effective ways to integrate face-to-face with digital learning environments?
  • What considerations should inform the selection and use of digital technologies in online, hybrid, and/or course design?

Submissions may take the form of:

  • Teaching and Program Reports: short reports from different disciplines on classroom practices (2850–5700 words);
  • Essays: longer research, theoretical, or conceptual articles and explorations of issues and challenges facing teachers today (5700 – 7125 words);
  • Book Reviews: send inquiries attn: Kisha Tracy, Book Review Editor. No unsolicited reviews, please.

We welcome both individual and group submissions. All submissions must be original, previously unpublished work and, if based in a particular academic discipline, must explicitly consider their relevance and applicability to other disciplines and classroom settings. See full call for submission details.

Photo: University of Missouri-Columbia. 
Primary Source News & Notes is distributed monthly by the RBMS Instruction & Outreach Committee
Jillian Sparks, Editor


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