Nurturing Student Inquiry and Student Voice Through Informational Texts

Professional Development
Graduate Credits: 


This workshop is offered free of charge thanks to a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program at CES.  

This workshop features:

  • The expertise of Rich Cairn, Director of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program at CES and top consultant for primary source and inquiry-based curriculum development
  • A focus on informational texts, as required by Common Core ELA standards
  • Use of the resources of one of the world's largest libraries - the Library of Congress - in support of literacy
  • Instruction regarding reading and writing in all disciplines

How can informational texts help students to explore and speak out on issues that matter to them? Long-time service-learning and social justice advocate, Rich Cairn has guided hundreds of teachers to develop and teach hands-on lessons featuring primary sources. In this lesson study course, teachers will research topics that tap into student concerns. Small teams of teachers will each draft, teach, reflect on, and revise a primary source-based, inquiry-focused lesson.

Participants will:

  • Practice inquiry-based strategies for teaching and learning
  • Apply engaging texts on social justice topics, in varied media including newspapers, speeches, letters, and advertisements, reports, images, video, graphs and charts, music, and maps from the vast collections available for free online from the Library of Congress
  • Share teaching strategies with fellow teachers
  • Write and apply a lesson that demonstrates one or more strategies to effectively teach reading and writing about informational texts, addressing both Common Core and content standards.

Prerequisite Requirements

Participants may register for this course if they have completed one or more graduate level courses (listed below) of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program at CES (completed for graduate credit or equivalent PDPs). This does not include earlier courses or workshops that were not offered for graduate credit.

Eligible Prerequisites

Spring 2016 Courses:

Or one of the following:


Classroom teachers of all subject areas, Grades 3 - 12.


22.5 PDPs or 1 graduate credit in partnership with Fitchburg State University. To earn PDPs or Graduate Credit, participants must complete all assignments by the last class, details of which will be provided in the class syllabus. Graduate Credit from Fitchburg State University costs $220. Registration for Graduate Credit takes place in the first class, with payment accepted by credit card or check.


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


  • Rich Cairn

    Rich Cairn founded the Accessing Inquiry project of Emerging America, which focuses on inclusion of ALL learners in History, Civics, and Social Science classrooms, especially students with disabilities and English Learners. 


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.