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Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities

Headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities (Federation) is the oldest private college association in the nation. As an advocacy organization with a membership of 58 institutions from all regions of the state, the Federation represents the public policy interests of Illinois' non-profit private colleges and universities.

The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program led by the Federation (TPS-Federation) began in 2003 as part of the pilot program, An Adventure of the American Mind. The Federation is the lead organization coordinating the TPS-related activities of a statewide partnership of higher education institutions and associations, including National-Louis University, Bradley University, Dominican University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and the Illinois Council for the Social Studies. The Federation's TPS program consists of a director and assistant director from National-Louis University, the business manager and program consultant from the Federation, two faculty from each higher education institution member, six K-12 teachers recruited to assist with activities, and two representatives from the Illinois Council for the Social Studies. Within a framework developed by all TPS-Federation members, each member institution has developed its own efforts geared to meet local conditions.

At the 2008 ICSS Special Fall Conference, a session leader helps participants learn about the online tool, Pathfinder. Photo by Ronald Browne

At the 2008 ICSS Special Fall Conference, a session leader helps participants learn about the online tool, Pathfinder. Photo by Ronald Browne.

Through its K-12 curricular and professional development initiatives, TPS-Federation annually reaches between 700-1200 pre-service teachers, along with several hundred K-12 teachers, administrators and higher education faculty. TPS-Federation helps pre-service teachers, in-service teachers and higher education faculty to access, create, share, and use learning strategies, activities and tools to increase student understanding through interaction with the valuable digitized primary sources of the Library of Congress. TPS-Federation also stresses meeting the needs of all learners, including students with special needs and second language learners.

TPS-Federation's innovative Pathfinder initiative aims to facilitate the navigation of the Library of Congress Web site by acting as a stimulus for curricular and professional development as well as scholarly research. Each pathfinder structures the study of an important classroom topic, providing selected primary sources on various facets of that topic, historical and instructional contexts, an all learner curriculum, a step-by-step guide to developing a pathfinder, and, eventually, peer reviewed classroom activities. The first pathfinder focuses on the Civil War and the second is on inventions, geared to using Library resources in science. Both are in various stages of development, an ongoing process.

Publications are also integral to the Federation's TPS program. The TPS-Federation Web site publishes selected resources developed by higher education faculty, including classroom activities and pre-service teacher work related to using the Library of Congress. The Web site also features the online TPS Journal. Its goal is to disseminate research-based information that focuses on the use of primary sources in teaching and learning. The first issue featured articles on increasing student access to primary sources, the nature of photos as texts, and strategies for using primary sources for student with disabilities. It also included a forum on content and pedagogy.

In 2008, TPS-Federation presented a half-day conference, "Using Primary Sources in Social Studies," in conjunction with the Illinois Council for the Social Studies. Approximately 115 teachers attended. Four Illinois-based TPS programs, a number of K-12 teachers and other organizations presented interactive sessions on using the Library of Congress resources effectively in the classroom. The conference featured a presentation by University of Illinois at Chicago professor Perry Duis on "Chicago, Always the Global City." A follow-up conference is planned for October 2010.

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