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Teachers Talking Inclusion with Teachers

Published on Tue, 08/09/2022

One of two teachers points at something on a computer screen as they talk.
Apply to participate in a virtual PLC between ESL and Social Studies teachers.

Discussion that is always enlightening–sometimes challenging–between social studies teachers and teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) and Special Education has been one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching Emerging America's Accessing graduate courses across the U.S. since 2016. Such opportunities are too rare. 

Speaking from their rich daily experience, teachers have shared a wealth of insights from how to understand unique needs of particular students to hands-on strategies to make complex primary sources accessible. I recall the history teacher at a Deaf school who explained to fascinated peers the significance of Black schools for the Deaf in the era of segregation in the development of a distinctive Black American Sign Language. And I recall many times when ESL teachers shared focused use of sentence stems to help all students broaden use of linguistic structures for argument and for inquiry. 

In a time of increasing outside challenges to balanced, inquiry-based instruction, teacher to teacher exchange offers an essential source of ideas and mutual support for continued high quality instruction.  


In 2022-2023, Emerging America and our partners offer opportunities to join in-depth discussion across educational lines: 

  • Join a PLC bringing together ESL and Social Studies teachersLink to PLC interest form is
    • With a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources grant, the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies (MCSS) offers a professional learning community (PLC) for 16 teachers (8 history/social studies & 8 ESL teachers) via virtual discussions. 
      • The PLC will meet for 5 one-hour sessions between October and February.
      • The focus will be
        • using best primary source practices in ESL classes
        • using best language development practices in social studies classes
        • ways ESL and social studies teachers can learn from each other


  • Join review and discussion of the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap Considerations and Contributions of Multilingual Americans. Link to EAD Multilingual Considerations review interest form
    • In 2021-2022, the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies (MCSS), with funding from a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources grant, convened a council of expert advisors to develop resources to increase the inclusion of multilingual learners in civic and social studies education. That group considered how the 2021 Educating for American Democracy Roadmap could contribute to that work. 
    • For background link to the 2021 Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap



  • Accessing Inquiry for Students with Disabilities through Primary Sources AND Accessing Inquiry for English Learners through Primary Sources - Learn more about the Accessing Inquiry courses
    • Available for continuing education units or optional graduate credit from Westfield State University.  
    • Emerging America will offer both Accessing Inquiry courses in the spring term of 2023.
    • Sign up for Emerging America's History eNews to get regular updates on Accessing Inquiry and related professional development. (Sign-up at bottom of this page.) 


  • Join Emerging America and colleagues at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Philadelphia, December 2-4, 2022. Info on Emerging America sessions at NCSS. Sign up for Emerging America's History eNews for updates. 

Rich Cairn

Civics and Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Collaborative for Educational Services
Rich Cairn founded Emerging America in 2006, which features the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History program, "Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry." The Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse, supported by the Library of Congress TPS program promotes full inclusion of students with disabilities and English Learners in civics and social studies education.