Local Teachers Attend Saint Mary’s Workshop

Free workshop provides educators with opportunity to create inclusive history lessons

A group of regional educators gathered on campus this week to take a fresh look at the way they teach social studies. Through a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Midwest Region Program, the College hosted the week-long Learning from Inclusive Sources summer workshop. Led by SMC professors Jeff Greiner and Jamie Wagman, the workshop focused on the use of “primary sources”— historical materials like photos, writings, and objects—that allow students to relate to historical events in a more personal way.Group of teachers in classroom

Primary sources differ from scholarly secondary sources—accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place, often in textbooks. According to the Library of Congress, “Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal documents and objects can give them a sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era. Helping students analyze primary sources can also prompt curiosity and improve critical thinking and analysis skills.” 

Topics taught in the workshop include the histories of institutional racism and sexism, agency among women, indigenous people, the working class, LGBTQ+ populations, and Black communities across the United States.

Jalyn King ’20 and education major Hanna Maheras ’23 were among the cohort to take advantage of this workshop.

The free-to-area-educators workshop involved learning and hearing from experts on the topics, focusing on what they have learned to develop lessons, and by the end of the week, participants had the ability to use this and apply it to their classroom curriculum.

Greiner, an assistant professor in the education department said, “As a veteran social studies educator of 14 years, I worked hard to make my teaching more inclusive, but found it was often difficult to do so as I used more and more primary sources in my instruction.” As Greiner was completing his doctorate, he found other educators were experiencing the same frustration. Now, as an educator who can impact current teachers, he partnered with Wagman to learn more about how to find and use inclusive primary sources in the classroom and this workshop will give us a chance to share some of what we’ve learned with local area teachers and pre-service teachers.”

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