Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Western Region @ Metropolitan State University of Denver

Teacher Librarian Day 2009

TPS-Colorado held its annual Librarian Days Conference this year on the last two days of January.  Over one hundred educators from across Colorado converged on Auraria Campus, in downtown Denver, each one of them anticipating a stimulating two days of learning, networking, and information gathering.  Their main objective was to learn the methods and intricacies of incorporating primary sources into their teaching skills.  For some of them it was their first time; for others, they were seasoned veterans, simply there to hone the skills they already have.  One librarian, from Estes Park High School said, “I’m very excited. I’ve been coming for three years.  I’m very appreciative that we’re actually working with TPS and have the time to work with them.  We’re very fortunate to have this available to us.”

The conference was slightly different this year.  It celebrated the anniversaries of three major events: the sesquicentennial of the founding of Denver, the centennial of the Colorado Governor’s Mansion completion and the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  To reflect this, TPS-Colorado brought in speakers from a diverse number of subjects to talk about these events.  Some were educators from universities in Denver and one was a retired Professor Emeritus at Duke University.  The main concentration of the talks was about our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.  There were many topics discussed, ranging from interesting stories of his thought processes regarding situations such as returning to the political scene and the Civil War, as well as his connection to Denver and the West.  Many of the attendees enjoyed it immensely.  A middle-school librarian mentioned, “This is my fourth year. I try to bring a different teacher every year.  The format’s a little different than last year, but it’s been valuable to have the speakers’ expertise and knowledge, especially this year.”

The theme of the conference this year was “Inquire. Create. Participate. Grow.”  It represented four simple steps that the conference sought to teach:  To inquire about history, create resources for learning and knowledge, participate in an innovative learning community, and grow as learners and professionals.  This theme was inspired by the 2007 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) standards model which was also a theme of the conference.  The four-word theme also provided an easy format that allowed the presenters, as well as educators, to keep in mind the overall focus of the conference, no matter what the topic or lesson was.

At the conclusion of the first day of the conference, a reception was held at the aforementioned Colorado Governor’s Mansion—now officially titled the Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion.  Here, the educators were given tours of the mansion by Cindy Starks, Program Director of the Governors Preservation Fund.  During the conference earlier in the day, Cindy had given a short presentation on some historical artifacts that are stored in the attic of the Residence.  The artifacts were then shown in person at the reception to the delight of all in attendance.  Two speeches were then given by professors from Metropolitan State College of Denver, one about women in 1908—relating to the centennial anniversary of the Residence, and a entertaining talk about the families who built and lived in the Mansion prior to being bequeathed to the State of Colorado.

The conference was a great success and received many positive comments.  Many educators professed their wishes for another conference soon. Marcela, an obviously pleased educator, said at the end of the conference, “This is my third [conference] and probably the best.  They have all been good.  The speakers have all been knowledgeable and compelling. The format has made this one better.  It’s clear they took our comments and redesigned [the workshop].  It’s a much better, much more useful format. We don’t always get collaborative opportunities.  We absolutely had more work time, which has been great.  Teachers never get enough of that…nowhere on this planet.”

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