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University of Northern Colorado

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is a highly-regarded teacher preparation institution in Colorado. UNC offered its first classes in 1890 as the State Normal School of Colorado, an ambitious undertaking in the small prairie town of Greeley prompted by the vital need to train qualified teachers in the young, growing state. In 1970, the institution’s official designation as the University of Northern Colorado reflected its expanded roles and academic offerings over the years. Building on its early heritage, UNC continues a strong tradition of educating teachers, and in 2008, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences was awarded the prestigious Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Preparation. The university’s programs are offered through six colleges which currently serve approximately 10,000 undergraduate students through more than 100 programs in the fields of arts, sciences, humanities, business, human sciences, and education. UNC also offers more than 100 graduate programs to 2,000 students, primarily in the field of education.

Participants in TPS-UNC’s spring “Folklife” workshop analyze primary sources that reflect the importance of weddings in different cultures

Participants in TPS-UNC’s spring “Folklife” workshop analyze primary sources that reflect the importance of weddings in different cultures

The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at the University of Northern Colorado (TPS-UNC) began in 2007 with the goal of reaching K-12 educators in rural and outlying school districts in the state. Since that time, teachers and school librarians across grade levels and subject areas have benefitted from a variety of TPS-UNC workshops. In the “Essentials Exploration” series of introductory workshops, participants gain an understanding of primary sources and their value in teaching and learn how to navigate the Library of Congress Web site. These workshops, which have reached educators in nearly 40 school districts to date, emphasize investigation and inquiry as instructional strategies for helping students construct meaning from primary sources. During the 2008-09 school year, TPS-UNC began offering content-specific workshops focusing on topics such as folklife and Abraham Lincoln, as well as workshops highlighting instructional approaches and tools for exploring primary sources, including inquiry and webquests. Teachers and school librarians have enthusiastically endorsed these new professional development offerings. Last summer’s three-day institute, “Fabric of Our Lives,” used the Library’s primary sources from the Creating the U.S. online exhibition and immigration-related digitized collections to emphasize literacies for the 21st century. This summer’s institute, “Nation at the Crossroads,” will examine the Library’s digitized collections relating to the Federal Writers’ Project and other arts programs from the New Deal era. This coming school year, the TPS-UNC will increase efforts to support teachers in developing and implementing exemplary primary-source based lesson plans through advanced workshops, and will continue to introduce new participants to the Library of Congress online resources through the “Essentials Exploration” workshop series.

This past spring, TPS-UNC and two other TPS Consortium members participated in a panel presentation showcasing the national TPS program at the Library of Congress forum on K-12 education entitled, "American Education in the Digital Age and Beyond: A Discussion for the 21st Century". A high school teacher representing the TPS-UNC program on the panel described how she teaches with the Library’s digitized primary sources.

Also this past spring, the workshop "Folklife: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary," provided an opportunity for TPS-UNC to collaborate with a regional folklorist, Anne Hatch, whose strong ties to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has supported her work in several locations throughout the West. A recent project through the Wyoming Arts Council, where she currently heads the Folk and Traditional Arts program, included documentation of polka dancing of ethnic groups in Greeley, Colorado, where UNC is located. Anne brought records of this work, as well as samples of cowboy poetry and various artifacts to the workshop, where participants explored how folklore of families, communities, and multi-cultural groups can be used in the classroom. The workshop brought educators in touch with a variety of primary sources, both tangible and digitized, through the online collections at the Library of Congress.

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