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Accessing Inquiry for Students with Disabilities - DETAILS

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This is the DETAILS page for the course Accessing Inquiry for Students with Disabilities through Primary Sources offered by the Collaborative for Educational Services. Below the course description, you will find a section titled "Course Expectations" with information about assignments, and links (in red) to a sample syllabus from a previous offering of the course. 

Social Studies and Humanities pose distinct challenges for struggling learners. 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 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: incorporate inquiry, primary sources, and principles of Universal Design for Learning 


Course Expectations

Please note: This is a graduate-level course. All participants will be required to prepare for the start of the training by setting up access to course resources in Google Docs, and posting to introduce themselves in the Library of Congress TPS Teachers Network in advance of the first day of the course. There are required readings and videos in addition to optional resources. All participants will complete and submit a lesson plan at the end of the course that utilizes the techniques taught in the course. More about these assignments will be emailed after registration is complete.

Face-to-face course (Sample syllabus from prior course)

The face-to-face course meets for two daylong sessions, with breaks including lunch, for 12 instructional hours that include substantial time to work with instructor support, individually and (where applicable) in district teams. Three additional hours outside of class, to be spent completing assigned reading, writing and posting an introduction and reflections to the TPS Teachers Network, searching online for appropriate primary sources, and completing the lesson plan template, are part of the course requirements. It is usually possible for the participant who plans ahead and focuses narrowly to complete and submit a final lesson plan at the end of the second session, but the deadline for the completed lesson plan is one week after the second session, and accommodations are available by request. 

Online course (Sample syllabus from Spring 2022.)

The 6-week online course will run 2.5 hours per week plus some additional reading, with twice-a-week deadlines for posting in the online discussion forum. Participants may complete work at a convenient time of day for them. There will be two scheduled 60-minute webinars. (Option to watch recordings if needed.) Each week will include a mix of readings, online activities, and video clips. Each week, participants will write and post responses to prompts related to readings, and reply to classmates’ posts while reflecting on steps in lesson planning in the second half of the week. Over the six weeks, participants will each create a text set of primary sources and write a lesson plan that employs techniques of access for English Learners. In the 4-week online summer session, the format will be similar, with equal hours of engagement over a shorter timeline.

All participants will be required to prepare for the start of the training by setting up access to the Canvas course management program and Zoom webinars, in addition to the pre-assignment to introduce themselves in the TPS Teachers Network. More about online course set up and the pre-assignment will be emailed after registration is complete.


Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regulations for graduate-level work allow us to award 22.5 PDPs to Massachusetts participants upon completion of all course activities (Face-to-face: two full days of training, in addition to outside reading and assignments; Online: 6-weeks of online participation, including webinars, reading, and assignments). 

Participants may choose instead to take this course for 1 graduate credit in partnership with Westfield State University. Graduate Credit from Westfield State University costs $125. Registration for Graduate Credit takes place in the first class, with payment accepted by credit card or check.

"Accessing Inquiry" courses meet the Massachusetts license renewal requirements for 15-hours Professional Development (PD) on students with disabilities and students with diverse learning styles, or 15-hours PD on English Learners. Link to renewal regulations.


Teachers in Social Studies or Humanities; Specialists; Librarians; 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.

Explore Accessing Inquiry Resources 

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