Accessing Inquiry for English Learners through Primary Sources

Emerging America
Graduate Credits: 


English Learners bring rich contributions to the subjects of social studies and humanities that can go untapped if their language abilities limit their access to content, understanding of difficult core concepts, and participation in class discussion. Primary sources, when used right, can make a critical and an empowering difference. 

In this graduate-level course, Emerging America presents hands-on techniques to support English Learners’ access to History, Humanities and Social Science content across grades (especially for WiDA levels 3-5), and including advanced topics. The course offers access to a wealth of state and national resources on teaching English Learners, integrated with the inquiry-based approaches underlying the Library of Congress, Massachusetts Framework, and National Council for the Social Studies standards for teaching social studies concepts and skills. 

Building on a foundation of Universal Design for Learning instructional approaches that will enhance teaching for ALL students, this course pairs the presentation and modeling of accessible teaching tools with an exploration of the history of immigrants and foreign language communities in the U.S., including discussion of how to teach the controversial topic of immigration politics. Participants will:

  • Focus on strategies to teach social science concepts such as cause and effect, academic conversation, and writing, including the purposeful application of sentence stems.
  • Examine the standards-based history curriculum of immigrants and foreign-language communities in the US, issues of citizenship, and struggles for empowerment.
  • Create/adapt lessons using the rich resources of the Library of Congress and other free online collections to result in a teachable lesson plan to apply the tools and principles of this course.

This fully online workshop will run 2.5 hours per week for six weeks. You may complete it at convenient times for you. There will be one scheduled 75-minute webinar (with the option to watch the recording). Each week will include a mix of readings, online activities, and video clips. You will write responses to prompts in a class forum, and reply to your classmates' posts. Over the six weeks, you will find and create a text set of primary sources and write a lesson plan that employs techniques of access for English Learners.

Audience and Grade Level

Teachers in Social Studies or Humanities, including literature, art, and music; teachers of English Learners, Grades 4 - 12 

Invite a partner! We encourage - but do not require - participation of teams, such as a teacher of English Learners and a History/American Literature teacher, members of a department, or interdisciplinary teams.


Massachusetts teachers will earn 22.5 PDPs upon completion of this training, in addition to outside reading and assignments (as per DESE regulations). Note that these PDPs will satisfy the ELL-related requirement for recertification. 

Participants may choose instead to take this course for 1 graduate credit in partnership with Westfield State University. To earn PDPs or Graduate Credit, participants must complete all assignments.


Future training dates will be announces here. If you have questions or are interested in offering this training on-site, please contact us.


  • thumbnail image of Alison Noyes

    Alison Noyes is the Program Manager of the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, where she leads the English Learner Collaborations project funded by a Library of Congress grant to the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies. 

  • thumbnail image of Wendy Harris

    Wendy Harris is passionate about teaching, social studies, and giving back to the community. She teaches at Metro Deaf School in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has been a classroom teacher for Deaf students of all ages since 2003 and currently splits her teaching duties between high school social studies and teaching braille and other skills to the school’s DeafBlind students ages 2-21.


A maximum class size is set for each course and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of registrations for a course exceeds the maximum seats available or is too low to be able to conduct a quality learning experience, CES will inform you of available options.

Course Cancellation

If you wish to cancel your registration, please submit a request in writing (via mail, email or fax) no later than 7 business days before the workshop’s start date. After that, there are no refunds or billing adjustments.

In the event that a course is cancelled by the Collaborative for Educational Services, we will notify you as soon as possible. Please be sure to provide your best email address and phone number so we can contact you. Although every effort is made to avoid last minute cancellations, if an emergency arises, we will do our best to reach you at the phone number and email address you provide. 

Inclement Weather

Any delays or cancellations are posted online at You may also call 413.588.5979 after 6:30am for information about classes that day. Or for Early Childhood Professional Development information, please call 413.588.5570.