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Online: Accessing Inquiry for Students with Disabilities through Primary Sources

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Fri, 04/07/2023

Fully Online: NEW DATES–April 7 to May 17 - Online Webinar April 12 4:00-5:15pm Eastern Time 

Offered at special low rate of $100 thanks to a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Eastern Region mini-grant! 

Social Studies and Humanities pose distinct challenges for students with disabilities. Extensive discipline-specific vocabulary, difficult informational texts –including complex primary sources– and a need for background knowledge can be barriers. Yet the authentic sources, important ideas and connections to issues of these subjects also offer virtual tools for differentiation and potent means to motivate students.

This exciting graduate course supports content instruction for Students with Disabilities in History-Social Studies and Humanities (including literature, art, music, and language); and for Special Education teachers. 

Grounded in a decade of practice by history educators, historians, and experts in Special Education, and based on current research and innovative classroom practices this course features models of best practices and employs primary sources and analysis tools.

Participants will:

  • Gain and apply practical classroom strategies.
  • Integrate History of Disability through issues of Citizenship, private and government responsibility to provide services, and struggles for empowerment.
  • Create/adapt lessons to meet state and national standards, and employing Universal Design for Learning. 
  • NEW: Sample the Reform to Equal Rights: K-12 Disability History Curriculum, to be published by Emerging America in February, 2023. 
  • Access free follow-up resources via Emerging America's Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse


This “Accessing Inquiry” course meets Massachusetts teacher license renewal requirements for 15-hours of professional development on teaching students with disabilities and students with diverse learning styles. Link to renewal regulations


  • Rich Cairn, Civics and Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Collaborative for Educational Services



Teachers in Social Studies or Humanities; Grades 4-12.

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


Course Expectations

The online course will run 3 hours per week plus some additional reading. Participants may complete work at a convenient time of day for them. There will be one scheduled webinar. (Webinar will be recorded.) Each week will include a mix of readings, video clips, and online activities. Each week, participants will write responses to prompts in a class forum, and reply to classmates’ posts in the second half of the week.

With publication of the Reform to Equal Rights curriculum, the final assignment for this course has changed. Over the five weeks, participants will have two options for a course project. They may either 1) Choose a lesson from Reform to Equal Rights and write a detailed plan to teach the lesson, including analysis, plans, and any needed adaptions for inclusion of all learners. Or 2) Research and create a text set of primary sources and write a lesson plan that employs techniques of access for students with disabilities. (The old assignment.) 

Please note: This is a graduate-level course. All participants will be required to prepare for the start of the course by setting up access to course resources in Google Docs and Canvas, and posting to introduce themselves in the TPS Teachers Network. More about this assignment will be emailed after registration is complete. (Course syllabus from a previous section, for Westfield State University–including only the old lesson assignment. See note above.).


Massachusetts teachers receive 22.5 PDPs upon completion of the course and assignments (as per DESE regulations awarding time-and-a-half for graduate-level professional development). CES will send participants from other states a letter of participation for 15 hours.

Participants may choose instead to take this course for 1 graduate credit in History in partnership with Westfield State University for an additional cost of $150. 

“Accessing Inquiry” courses meet Massachusetts teacher license renewal requirements for 15-hours of professional development on teaching students with disabilities and students with diverse learning styles or for 15-hours professional development on teaching English Learners. Link to renewal regulations


April 7 - May 17, 2023 - Online Webinar April 12 4:00-5:15pm Eastern Time

Registration Deadline: March 31, 2023


The cost of the workshop is $85 for CES member districts and $100 for all others thanks to a mini-grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Eastern Region. 


Logo of Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium





Upcoming Workshops

This course introduces exemplars of best practice pedagogy for English Learners in History and Social Studies classrooms. It demonstrates dual-language-learner-…
Emerging America and the National Council for the Social Studies present a webinar to strengthen high quality instruction of students with disabilities.  Mark…
National Council for the Social Studies Conference - December 1-3, 2023 - Nashville Mark your calendars! Info on NCSS Conference.  Join thousands of colleag…