North Central GT Workshop

North Central Region Gifted & Talented Workshop (June 11-12, 2012)

For this workshop, TPS @ Metro State travelled to Longmont, Colorado as part of a workshop titled, “North Central Region Gifted & Talented Workshop: Primary Sources & Inquiry.” Over 60 educators from around Northern Colorado attended the workshop. Taking place over two days in the middle of June, participants were introduced to the Library of Congress website, while focusing on various collections, such as American Memory and Prints and Photographs. Particular attention was then given to the creation of Annotated Resource Sets, multiple forms of inquiry, and the use of technologies in the classroom.

Early in the first day, TPS @ Metro State consultants Cindy Stout and Michelle Pearson got the participants to engage directly with primary sources in the form of a mystery photo:

While analysing the photo, the participants were asked to answer the following questions:

  1. What do you observe?
  2. What do you think you know?
  3. What do you want to find out?

I invite you to try this activity on your own using this picture. This is the essence of inquiry. Did you try it? What were some of your questions? Here’s a hint.

For this activity we have the participants get into groups of 3-4, and using sticky notes, answer the three questions above. Then, for each question, we have them combine their answers on a white board for the purpose of seeing what other groups came up with it. You can view a picture of it below:

Cindy then read a few of them out loud to the entire group. It was an effective way of getting educators to think differently about inquiry, and to collaborate with others.

We then introduced the two models of inquiry we use at TPS @ Metro State: The Stripling Model & the Dual Inquiry model. The concept of this Dual Inquiry model is to show the educators that when inquiry takes place it can happen on two levels, as a learner and as a teacher. We ask the following questions:

As a Learner, consider…

  • How do I learn?
  • What strategies do I use to investigate a question?
  • How do I know when I’m doing a good job of getting the information I need?

As a Teacher, consider…

  • What instructional strategies do/can I use to facilitate investigation?
  • How do I reveal relevance and ensure rigor in students’ learning?
  • How do I organize resources, including primary source materials?

One of our most effective tools, the ARS (Annotated Resource Set), we introduced next. We then gave the participants a few hours to do some of their own research, while making ourselves available for troubleshooting and general help.

The second day we focused on other collections found on the Library of Congress website, such as the Chronicling America historical newspaper collection and the Sound Recordings collection. We also focused on various web tools (check out our TPSI Tech Tools wiki) and technology in the classroom in the form of our successful QR code activities focusing on the famous Waldseemüller Map, as well as maps of the Sante Fe Route (map 1, map 2).

Pictures from the map activities:



The big hit of the workshop was our activity called “New Pair of Shoes”. This activity is designed to get participants to put themselves in the shoes of someone else and to think about a different perspective than their own. Taking primary sources from the Library of Congress relating to Japanese Internment, we had the participants work in small groups building stories behind the primary sources given to them. These stories were then shared with the entire workshop. It got really powerful when we told the groups to break up and join other groups and relate their constructed stories with members from other groups. It’s a powerful example of how stories are created and shared. It’s also a powerful way to get educators and students thinking from an entirely different perspective than one’s own. That’s the power that primary sources have.

You can view the activity here. Be sure to email us if you have any questions about it!

The rest of the day was spent on continuing to construct the ARSs from the first day, while focusing on incorporating standards and essential questions into the document to add to its effectiveness and usefulness.

At the end of the workshop, many educators, either through surveys or direct word of mouth, told us that this was one of the best workshops they’ve been too. Sheila, a teacher from Windsor, CO, said:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend the EXCELLENT Primary Sources Workshop over the past two days. I can say, after attending SEVERAL workshops in the past few years, this was by far the most engaging, informative and motivating course I’ve had in a long time. I’m excited for the possibilities of using Primary Sources and the Library of Congress Materials in my Primary classroom. Even though I teach K-2 Gifted and Talented, our school is now a Project Based Learning School, and the possibilities seem to be endless when incorporating PS into our cross-curricular projects. Thank you to you and the entire workshop team for providing such great resources and information for educators!

Another participant, Jennifer, from Severance, CO said:

Thank you so much for a great experience! In my 16 years as an educator this was the best class/workshop I have ever taken! I can’t wait to share what I have learned with my teammates and colleagues!

We are happy to see that attendees to our workshops are coming away with brand new ideas and concepts to take back to their schools and classrooms. We know we’re doing our jobs when we get comments such as these! Thank you for reading.

Additional workshop pictures:




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