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Farmington teachers chosen to attend national institute

Two teachers from Farmington High School have been selected for the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute, which will take place June 10 through the 14.

Robin Carlson and Wendy Larson, along with two other educators from other high schools in Minnesota, will travel to Washington D.C. for this five-day program.

"What we are primarily going to be doing is learning about and receiving training on how to take and use primary documents that are in their vast collection and use them in our lesson plans with our students to create some meaningful lessons that really involve the kids, and do critical thinking about that document," said Carlson, who is a social studies teacher at Farmington High School.

Carlson and Larson learned of the program through a newsletter and then applied for it. Both believe attending this program will benefit the school in a wide variety of ways. The program will take the instructors through the extensive amount of documents and historical artifacts the Library of Congress has to offer, which will benefit Farmington High School directly because the school has already incorporated work with primary source documents through their literacy initiative.

"Part of that is being able to do technical reading as well as reading for content," said Larson, media specialist at Farmington High School. "And to read documents that are primary source ... that is not always easy for students to unpack, even adults."

Districtwide, students fourth grade and up are issued iPads for each school year. This technology has also been essential in student's use of primary source documents, as the media center has worked to use iPads to access ebooks and documents.

In addition to how the Library of Congress program will impact technology use for accessing primary source documents, Larson hopes students can learn how to think differently by studying them.

"Constructing their own knowledge ... is an important piece because they take it through high school and into post secondary education," Larson said.

The work the two are doing with studying primary sources also fits in with specific classes at Farmington High School, as Larson has worked with a variety of subjects and teachers in the reading and understanding of primary documents. She says many materials the Library of Congress offers are directly applicable to the curriculum at Farmington High School.

"I have been working with the civics teachers for two years, and we develop units and materials so they can use stuff outside the textbook," Larson said.

The two attendees are also focusing on how what they learn can help other educators in the district and how they can pass it on after they return from this national education program.

"Next year we are hoping to come back and work with different teams in our building and share the knowledge we gained, and not only affect and happen in our classroom but also share this knowledge and work with other teams," Carlson said. "Work with them, share what we have, provide them with feedback and reflection and work towards our literacy goal here in the high school.

"I am very much looking forward to the program itself, but then to come back next school year and pass on the knowledge about what we learned to our fellow colleagues," Carlson said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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