Lisa Dettling, head librarian at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, is bringing the Primary Source Nexus to her school.  “I’ve been taking all kinds of resources and putting them in one spot for teachers,” said Dettling.  Links to primary sources are imbedded in the school library’s website, taking students and teachers directly to the source on the Library of Congress website.  “I try to put multiple access points so the kids can find them in different places,” said Dettling.  Primary sources can be implemented on an as-need basis, or all at once.  “It depends on the teachers,” Dettling said. “With a few of our teachers we know the curriculum and design a web page in advance.”

IMG_1506To do this, they chose the Columbian Exposition, or the World’s Fair, as their topic.  The sources they used were a letter written by Helen Keller and a map of the exposition.

“I chose these examples because our U.S. History classes participate in History Fair, somehow the students have to connect their topic to Chicago History.” Dettling explained.  As part of this initiative, she “made a webpage for our kids using some of the primary resources.”

At the conference, Dettling and McGreer had their session participants start by reading “a section of the letter from Helen Keller without knowing who the author was.”  Next, they looked at the Exposition map, which labeled each building and exhibit of the fair, and found the places Keller describes in the letter.  This paired pictures with words, resulting in a better understanding of Keller’s experience. Dettling elaborated, stating, “It was like a walking tour of the Columbian Exposition.”

Dettling and McGreer, along with their colleague Nancy Ryan, will present again in February for Illinois Computing Educators (ICE).  Their presentation, titled “Back to the Future with the Library of Congress,” aims to prepare participants to inspire future leaders through the use of primary sources from the Library of Congress website.