Debra Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern
- What attracted you to the TPS Regional Grant Program?
When we left the classroom to form the non-profit organization History UnErased (HUE), we began to explore new methods of social studies education. HUE is dedicated to reversing the erasure of LGBTQ history from our elementary, middle and secondary school social studies, English language arts and ﬁne arts curricula. HUE believes that all children need to see themselves, their family members and friends reﬂected in their classrooms. While LGBTQ students are still most at risk for being the victims of bullying behavior, suicide, and engaging in risk behaviors, research studies have demonstrated that inclusion of LGBTQ content mitigates these behaviors, while fostering a safer school environment for all children (GLSEN, 2013). Including LGBTQ content prepares students to enter an increasingly diverse world and helps teachers keep pace with a quickly evolving society.
In surveys conducted via HUE’s website, teachers and students report they want to know this content, but they need training and mentoring. Teachers need high-quality professional development that promotes the use of inquiry and provides resources for sustainability. By focusing on implementation, HUE sets itself apart from other organizations that create the materials, but do not provide the ongoing professional development that ensures teacher success and creates permanent change in our schools and communities.
We enrolled in an online TPS Professional Development Providers Institute delivered by the TPS Eastern region, and this institute has shaped our approach and methods to creating LGBTQ inclusive materials and curricula for educators. The TPS Regional Grant Program allowed us to bring these methods and the resources of the Library of Congress to social studies educators in Massachusetts and New England.
- What are some of the highlights of the professional development you offered with your TPS regional grant?
Teachers attended an intensive weeklong immersion in LGBTQ history and the many highlights include:
- Many teachers, even veteran teachers, were surprised at the number and variety of primary sources that are easily accessible online from the Library of Congress.
- Participants especially enjoyed learning about Frank Kameny and the Lavender Scare. Kameny's papers are housed at the Library of Congress.
- They also researched and explored documents relating to LGBTQ history during the Harlem Renaissance and used the Library's extensive Civil War resources to explore gender and the roles of women during that time.
- What impact did your TPS grant have on your participants' ability to teach with primary sources?
The TPS grant provided participants with the time, opportunities and resources to delve into both the inquiry method and the primary sources that fuel the method. Participants first learned the importance of teaching with primary sources and using inquiry in the classroom. In HUE's method of inquiry, the role of the teacher and student is fluid throughout the process. The HUE inquiry process recognizes that learners are diverse with diverse needs and helps students to make connections between curricular content and present-day topics.
Then, during the TPS funded weeklong workshop, they began digging through primary sources to better understand the content. The HUE inquiry method, coupled with Library of Congress analysis tools, gave participants the chance to work collaboratively, to ask questions, and to use research to further their understanding of the content. This method is directly applicable to classroom instruction, so participants left with a model of instruction that they could implement with confidence.
- What lasting effects did the TPS regional grant have on your programming for educators?
The TPS grant gave History UnErased the chance to develop methods, materials and strategies to incorporate primary sources and inquiry into our work. Teaching LGBTQ history is complicated, but these methods give educators the confidence to teach complex subjects. All of History UnErased's workshops and materials rely on primary source analysis and HUE's inquiry method. We can't imagine doing it any other way!
"I can't wait to get back to my classroom and facilitate my students digging into the primary sources presented this week!" Annie B. (Social Studies teacher)