Be A Book Lover Today!

Books paint a picture for us by allowing us to imagine our own movies from their stories.  Today, we are able to read many different genres in a variety of formats.  Thousands of people are enjoying going to libraries and checking out printed books, while others are rapidly downloading books on their electronic devices. 

Did you know that reading exercises the creative part of our brain by allowing us to form a picture from words on a page inside our heads?  It is vital that we keep reading and obtaining the many benefits attained from reading books. 

Five major reasons why you should pick up or download a book today:

  1. To boost creativity
  2. To improve writing skills
  3. To enhance memory
  4. To expand vocabulary
  5. To develop analytical thinking

Since books are probably one of the mediums where you will find the most diversity, and there are books about nearly everything you could think of, the ideal place to explore would be The Library of Congress National Book Festival.  This year, the 2014 National Book Festival will be Saturday, August 30th, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. 

The festival will feature authors, poets, and illustrators in several pavilions.  When you attend the event, you can meet and hear from your favorite poets and authors, get books, have posters signed, hear special entertainments, have photos taken with storybook characters, and participate in a variety of activities. 

This is an event that all should go out and celebrate!  To learn more about this Festival, visit the National Book Festival Website.



February Lesson Plans, found on The Library of Congress website:

Creative Writing and illustrating suggestions by former festival authors.

Newspaper editing idea from John Bemelmans Marciano—Take an article from a newspaper and correct it.

Writing exercise from Sarah Dessen– writing letters.

Fun writing topic from Mary Brigid Barrett

Designing your own National Book Festival Bookmark.

Illustrating with Jan Brett

TPS-GSU Team Presenting Workshop at ICE

This year, the Illinois Computing Educators Conference – ICE – will be held in St. Charles, IL, from February 25-28th.  We are excited to announce that our team will be presenting a workshop at the conference. 

The Civil War in America

The Civil War in America

On Friday, February 28th, Carol Meyer will teach Use Primary Sources to Create Engaging Civil War Lessons.  In this workshop, Carol will help you make your lessons more engaging for students by using digital primary sources from the Library of Congress.  You will learn how primary sources and a few technology tools can be used for instruction on the Civil War that requires students to do close reading, ask text-dependent question, collaborate with others, and think critically.  Carol will demonstrate primary source sets, searching, classroom activities, and teacher resources that can help you get started with using primary sources.  This session will also help you understand some ways you can use primary sources to provide activities based on the Common Core State Standards.

TPS-GSU Feature Teacher:  Janet Austiff

Janet Austiff February Feature Teacher

Janet Austiff
February Feature Teacher

We are proud to introduce you to Janet Austiff, one of our TPS-GSU Trainers!

  1. When did you take the graduate course, Digital Primary Sources, at GSU, and what lesson plan did you design and implement in your classroom?  I was a participant in the TPS-GSU course in September of 2010.  The Library of Congress Primary Source lesson plan that I developed and implemented in my classroom is called Economic Crisis, Then and Now.
  2. What has brought you the most value from TPS-GSU professional development programs?  From the teacher side, I definitely value the new ways of teaching I learned to bring history alive using primary sources.  I would never have known about the Library of Congress and the rich resources they bring to teachers without TPS-GSU.  From a program specialist side, I value the relationship with the teachers who take the programs from TPS-GSU.  I enjoy watching them create their lessons and seeing how valuable these primary sources really are for them.  The reason it’s so fun to watch them create the lesson plan and use the Library as a valuable resource is because I get to help these exceptional educators take their teaching to the next level.  Also, I value the friendships that I’ve developed with all my colleagues – we have a great crew!
  3. What inspired you to want to become an educator?  I wanted to be a teacher from a young age because my grandmother was a first grade teacher.  I would go to her classroom and help her there, which really inspired me to want to be a teacher.
  4. What do you enjoy most about being a teacher now?  At this point in my career, I really enjoy the relationships I create with my students, and teaching with technology because of the endless possibilities of what they can learn and how they learn.  I really enjoy watching them learn and develop.  I also enjoy challenging myself with new technology tools. I recently worked with a new program called Scholar through Common Ground and the University of Illinois.  Scholar is an online tool that allows students to create, collaborate, and publish their writings.  I am excited to continue my work with them.  I will showcase Scholar through a student poster session at the upcoming ISTE Conference on July 1st in Atlanta, Georgia.
  5. Tell us about your recent achievement, getting your 2nd Master’s Degree!  My second Masters is from the University of Illinois.  It was an online program to achieve my Masters of Education in the New Learning & Literacies program, which is how to teach the new learner because we, as educators, learned a lot differently in the past from how students learn today.  One of my goals is to become a Technology Coach, someone who helps teachers with their lesson plans and technology tools to improve their teaching and help implement these tools into the classroom more easily for them.  As a Technology Coach, my job will be to ask them what they are thinking about doing and then I take the burden off of them to find the right tool.  I will save them time and help them discover how to use new technology and give them support to have confidence to implement the new technology.  One additional question … How did you accomplish all of this?  Support from family & friends plus my inner drive.  Graduating from the University of Illinois was one of my personal goals because I started my undergraduate degree at University of Illinois then transferred to Northern.  So, I wanted to go back and graduate from U of I.  Another thing that kept me moving was that, as a mom and teacher and wife, I’m always doing things for others – this was “my” thing.  Every Monday night, this was something I did just for me.  It was hard to get it all done, to do the homework and all that was required.  But, I knew it would pay off to work hard and stay focused on my goals.  I think it is important to show your children that dreams can come true with a little hard work.
  6. Please tell me about yourself and your family. I live in Bourbonnais, IL. I grew up in Momence, a small town nearby. I’m a wife, a mom, and a teacher. My husband is Joe, and we have three children:  my son Braedyn is 9 in 3rd grade, Cooper is 5 in kindergarten, and Hope is 2 in pre-school. As a family, we love to spend time together, and we’re looking forward to our Spring Break vacation to Disney World. The kids keep us super busy with their sports activities and school.  Joe is a HVAC Salesman (heating and air conditioning) working for Conner Company in Urbana, IL. He just earned his MBA at University of Illinois, so we earned our degrees together – but his program was on campus where mine was online. I have taught for 14 years, and currently I work at Manteno Middle School where I teach 8th grade language arts & social studies. I graduated from Northern Illinois University, and I have a Masters from Governors and my second Masters from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


SPRING REGISTRATION IS UNDERWAY … check out our Two-Day Workshops.

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LEVEL I:  Teaching with Primary Sources 

  • Two Day Training - March 29th & April 5th
  • 12 hr Training (CPDU’S credit available)
  • Teachers become familiar with the breadth and organization of digital primary sources from the Library of Congress.
  • Develop understanding of the value of using primary sources to create inquiry-based learning experiences.



LEVEL II:  Teaching with Primary Sources 

  • Two Day Training – April 26th & May 3rd 
  • 12 hr Training (CPDU’S credit available)
  • Evaluate, create and teach topic-specific content-informed learning experiences integrating primary sources from the Library of Congress
  • Apply the use of primary sources to support effective instructional practices for achieving CCSS



We encourage you to register TODAY!

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