As a high school history teacher gazes up at an enormous mural, he begins to plan an activity that engages his students in careful analysis of both the image and its historical context. Listening to a drum beat while she walks in the footsteps of a Civil War soldier, a fourth-grade teacher gains an appreciation for the power of music and of historic places. She learns new ways to incorporate multiple senses into her classroom, opening student minds through the sounds, smells, and tastes of the past.
Whether it takes place in a national museum, on a working seventeenth-century farm, or in a library or archive, professional development that allows teachers to explore history in person can be a powerful learning experience. But what are the components of good history and social studies workshops for teachers? What roles can cultural institutions, such as museums, libraries, archives, and historic sites, play in creating quality learning opportunities for educators? What strategies help teachers translate these experiences into classroom learning, inspiring students to think in new ways?