Workshop Photo

Colorado Springs District 11 TPS Workshop (August 14 & 16, 2012)

In the middle of August, TPS @ Metro State traveled a few miles south to partner with Colorado Springs School District 11 and Social Studies Facilitator/AVID District Director Joan Jahelka. You can read more about AVID here. The workshops, split into high school teachers on the 14th and middle school teachers on the 16th, focused on our stalwarts of inquiry — both Stripling and Dual —, and a tour of the Library of Congress homepage, along with ample time for individual exploration.

Beginning with an initial foray into primary sources, TPS Consultant Cindy Stout ran the participants through a mystery photo activity which is shared below. The first link under each subject is the mystery photo itself. Based on the method of inquiry developed by Barbara Stripling, you can begin asking yourself those questions on the inquiry model whilst looking at the mystery photo. After you’ve done that, then click on the Mystery Photo Clue link to learn additional information regarding each photo.

Western Hemisphere

World/Ancient History

American History – Pre Reconstruction


U.S. History



How did you do with your analysis? See how powerful of a method this is? It really is an effective way of getting not just students, but everyone, engaged in the power of analyzing primary sources to further knowledge building.



After the mystery photo activity, Taylor Kendal introduced the participants to the Library of Congress homepage using our trusty homepage cheat sheet. Participants love this part of the workshop because at first glance, the homepage can be quite overwhelming. We use the sheet to focus this overwhelming feeling into a more positive, effective initial exposure to the homepage. We’ve received many compliments about it, and it has now become a staple in all of our workshops.

The highlight of the event occurred directly after lunch. The workshop was visited by none other than Benjamin Franklin! Historian and actor Chris Lowell arrived in full regality, immediately engaging the participants in what turned out to be 30 minutes of autobiographical stories, anecdotal history, and encouragement for the teachers’ upcoming semesters. It was very entertaining! Be sure to click the previous link to view Franklin/Lowell’s page. Maybe you can get him to come talk at your school?


Another mainstay of our workshop is the Waldseemüller Map activity. We do two different mini-activities using this map. The first one is a primary source puzzle, where we’ve taken the entire Waldseemüller Map and cut it into 12 equal pieces. We then have participants put themselves in groups and hand each participant a section of the map. They then use their sleuthing and collaboration skills to re-assemble the map.  As good teachers of inquiry, we withhold one vital piece of the map. The participants quickly realize one piece is missing and they begin asking questions. Take a look at the map. Notice any distinguishing names on the map? Take a few more seconds. Scroll around. Notice any names? Here’s a hint: Look in the lower left section of the map. That’s right! America. This map is the first the time America was labeled on a map. Pretty cool! It’s always great to see new people introduced to this powerful map, and to see their reactions when they learn of America’s “birth map.”

For the second part of the activity we bring out larger versions of the Waldseemüller Map, one regular, and one with which we’ve photoshopped QR codes onto. Every QR code is thus scanned using a mobile device, and which links to relevant information we’ve created using a wiki. The participants, almost universally, are impressed with the possibilities of using the QR codes in their classroom. The codes offer a unique interactivity, that aids in bridging static objects, such as printed maps, with the world of digital information. Plus, kids simply love using technology in the classroom.

At the end of the workshop we had the participants begin to put together their annotated resource sets (ARS). This is the document that allows an educator to research, build, and organize their research into a document which then can be used as a lesson plan. It’s a very powerful tool, and our participants react favorably to it.

After two days spent in Colorado Springs, I believe it’s safe to say that it was another successful workshop, one in which we hope that the participants gained as much from it as much as we did teaching it. I also have heard that we will be returning to Colorado Springs for a follow up workshop!