Library of Congress Summer Institute

A Mount Bethel Elementary School media specialist has been selected to attend a summer institute with the Library of Congress where she will learn more about how to engage students with primary sources.

Heather Kindschy of Marietta was selected from a pool of more than 300 applicants for the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute.

Kindschy will be going to Washington, D.C. the week of July 10, where she will be the only educator from Georgia of the 27 participating. The educators are from around the country and represent both larger, metropolitan school districts as well as smaller, rural districts.

The end of July will mark her fifth year at Mount Bethel, and Kindschy said she is always looking for new ways to keep students engaged.

“In Cobb County Schools, there’s a big push for inquiry, and primary sources are one of the best ways to get kids engaged and get them to ask questions they might not normally ask,” she said.

During the five-day program, educators will explore the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available through the Library of Congress website. Participants will work with the Library of Congress’ education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn how to use primary sources effectively in the classroom. The educators will then create lesson plans that they can bring back to their own schools when summer ends.

Primary sources are raw materials, such as photos or letters, which were created at the time period being studied.

Lee Ann Potter, the Library of Congress’ director of educational outreach, said looking at primary sources can teach students how to do their own research.

“Whenever we provide students with an opportunity to work with authentic materials and engage them in opportunities to ask genuine questions that inspire real research, not only do they learn, but they own what they learn,” Potter said.

Kindschy said primary sources are especially useful for reinforcing social studies curriculum, and she hopes to bring history to life by showing students original materials from the time periods they are studying.

“It’s cool for them to see, this is what it was like for somebody to live,” she said. “There’s photographs from the time, and there’s letters and diaries.”

She said she found a digitized version of George Washington’s school book on the Library of Congress’ website, and materials like that can help students relate more to historical figures such as past presidents, who had schoolwork to do just like them.

“It gives them that connection beyond what they read in their history books, which are secondary sources,” she said. “They get to draw conclusions for themselves.”

Potter said about 35 million primary sources are available for anyone to view on the Library of Congress website,

The original story can be found here.

Picture credit: Heather Kindschy, media specialist at Mount Bethel Elementary School in Marietta, will be attending a summer institute with the Library of Congress where she will learn more about how to engage students with primary sources.
Special to the MDJ

Holly Frilot, Supervisor
Library Media Education

Contributing Author: Megan Reed
Marietta Daily Journal


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