The Right Question Institute (RQI) will receive grant support from the Library of Congress to advance the use of primary sources in K-12 classrooms across the United States.
The TPS program provides teaching materials and professional learning opportunities that enable educators to bring the library’s extensive collection of digitized primary sources into the classroom. These primary sources include things like historical photographs, documents, quotes, cartoons, and maps.
In working with the TPS program, RQI will develop free online learning modules to guide teachers in using the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to facilitate primary-source-based learning in the classroom.
Using the QFT to address a vital need
The QFT has been used in classrooms around the world. It is a powerful yet simple way for students to formulate their own questions, work with them, improve them, prioritize them, and use them effectively to drive learning. The ability to ask one’s own questions is one of the most important skills students can learn in the 21st century. When students use their own questions for learning, they develop critical thinking skills, become more curious and engaged, and take ownership over their learning.
‘Using the QFT helps students ask deep, probing questions about primary sources and drive further investigations’ — Sarah Westbrook
RQI’s Teaching with Primary Sources online learning program will help address a vital need for today’s students. In a world where 500 million tweets are sent every day, students must learn to question and think critically about the information, sources, media, and narratives they encounter. Using primary sources across all subject areas teaches important academic content. Moreover, it’s a primary way students develop the ability to analyze sources, weigh biases, and gauge the difference between accurate and inaccurate information.
Online learning for all disciplines
RQI’s online modules will feature videos, readings, lesson planning tools, and other resources to guide educators in planning and implementing QFT lessons tied to Teaching with Primary Sources material. The initiative will focus on reaching educators across disciplines in low- and moderate-income communities. The online modules are expected to be complete in late 2020 or early 2021 and will be available for free at rightquestion.org, loc.gov, and partnering media outlets.
‘The ability to ask questions is a key skill for college, career, life, and civic activity, especially in today’s fast-evolving, globally connected world’ — Andrew Minigan
From RQI, Sarah Westbrook, director of professional learning, and Andrew Minigan, director of strategy for the education program, will lead the design and dissemination of this online learning program.
Westbrook said of the project, “We’re delighted to be working with the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources program to develop free online professional learning for teachers across the country. Many teachers find that using the QFT helps students ask deep, probing questions about primary sources and drive further investigations. We’re excited by this opportunity to feature the creative work of our network of teachers, coupled with the expertise and rich resources of the Library of Congress and its Learning and Innovation Office, so that more teachers will have access to a powerful thinking and learning routine.”
Minigan said, “Research suggests there are many benefits to students honing their question formulation skills. It supports literacy, enhances memory recall, strengthens interpersonal skills and empathy, and may lead to more curiosity. The ability to ask questions is a key skill for college, career, life, and civic activity, especially in today’s fast-evolving, globally connected world — and importantly, it is a skill that can be deliberately taught and learned by all students and learners. Applying this skill to classroom work on primary sources can create the space for students to build their own capacity to analyze, assess, and think critically about complex information. Through questions and accessing the rich resources and wisdom the library has to offer everyone, students will begin to consider and explore perspectives across different contexts — challenging their own views while cultivating a more inclusive space for this dialogue and learning. ”
Other organizations receiving grant support through the Teaching with Primary Sources program include the National Council for the Social Studies, National History Day, and the National Council of Teachers of English.
For more information, please contact Chris Orchard, senior communications associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Courtesy, Library of Congress