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The Northern Virginia Partnership

The Northern Virginia Partnership is a unique collaboration among four public school districts in Northern Virginia--Alexandria City, Arlington County, Falls Church City, and Fairfax County--created to administer the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. The TPS Northern Virginia Partnership (TPS-NVA) began in November 2003 as part of the pilot program, An Adventure of the American Mind. The main goal of TPS-NVA is to promote student learning by providing professional development resources and services that help teachers effectively use Library of Congress digitized primary sources within established local and state K-12 curricula. By developing Library of Congress patrons, TPS-NVA encourages the pursuit of life-long learning. TPS-NVA believes that primary source analysis deepens student understanding of content by developing students’ memory, reason, and imagination to foster empathy for the past, perspectives on the present, and the ability to affect the future. To this end, TPS-NVA has collaborated with other educational organizations, including the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, George Washington University, and the Virginia State Library, on curriculum and research projects that advance teaching and learning with primary sources.

Educators examine how to deepen student understanding and build literacy skills through the learning activity, Crop It (offline), at the Annual Administrators Conference.

Educators examine how to deepen
student understanding and build literacy
skills through the learning activity, Crop It (offline), at the Annual Administrators Conference.

TPS-NVA created a not-for-profit organization, Primary Source Learning, to further its goal of helping teachers effectively use Library of Congress digitized primary sources and other digital resources available on the Internet along with best instructional practices to achieve specific learning outcomes in the classroom. Innovative, collaborative professional development programs help participants investigate digital media that will connect to students' lives and capture their natural desire to know and understand the world. Teachers who apply these lessons to the classroom report seeing results in student products that demonstrate increased student thinking, application of knowledge, and important understanding in all subject areas. Primary Source Learning’s Web site hosts one of the Internet’s largest data bases of lesson plans that use primary sources to foster student critical and creative thinking. TPS-NVA program participants and staff are involved in research examining effective teaching practices and student learning outcomes with digital primary sources.

TPS-NVA has served at least 8,000 local teachers in more than 300 schools through a continuum of professional development services to assist teachers in becoming patrons of the Library of Congress Web site, developing primary source-based learning experiences, and deepening educator content knowledge. TPS-NVA has developed many tools to help teachers guide students through the inquiry process using digitized primary sources. One such tool is an online learning activity, Crop It. In this activity, teachers choose a digitized primary source from the Library of Congress and pose questions to draw students into careful examination of the primary source. Students can crop the digital image to the portion that answers the question, save their “crops” and play them back as a slideshow. With each question, students reexamine the primary source, often discovering new information and revising their initial interpretations. Crop It helps develop information literacy skills of examining information and using specific evidence as support for a hypothesis. Teachers are invited to create a Crop It activity for use in their own classrooms in the My Portfolio folder - Online Activities section of the Primary Source Learning Web site.

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