Where We’re Testing the Q-Sort: The Monticello Teacher Institute

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As we think about implementing the Q-Sort evaluation at professional development programs at historic sites across the country, we wanted to share about the first test program. The 2016 Monticello Teacher Institute (MTI), made possible by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and Barringer Fellowship, was held this past July. MTI hosted twenty-nine teachers from twenty states and the United Kingdom. They were divided into two one-week sessions, July 9-15, 2016 and July 23-29, 2016. After the teachers settled into Copeley Apartments at the University of Virginia, each session began with a private after-hours tour of Monticello and a sunset wine reception at the Garden Pavilion. The rest of the week was filled with both special tours and dedicated work time. Teachers engaged in historical discussion over Hemings Family and Garden Tasting tours at Monticello, a private session with a UVA Special Collections librarian, and a historical tour of the University of Virginia given by one of Monticello’s own summer interns. During work sessions, the teachers did research to create lesson plans for the new Monticello education website that will premiere this fall. You can see the week long learning and activity plan here: MTI Sample Schedule.

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The Monticello Teacher Institute provided these select educators with the opportunity to meet with specialists in the field as they pursued diverse research topics. They met with librarians
and researchers at the Jefferson Library and International Center for Jefferson Studies, and spent a morning at Montalto with Vice President of Visitor Programs and Services Gary Sandling
and Jefferson scholar Peter Onuf. When interacting with the Q-sort at the beginning and end of the week, several of the teachers were intrigued by the research and were interested in the possibilities for using similar methodology in their classrooms.

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On the final day of each session, the teachers presented their lesson plans to their peers and Monticello staff. As they return to their classrooms, they will be serving as ambassadors of Monticello, and many intend to present on the Institute at their state and local conferences, as well as on the educational resources available on site and online. Video recordings of their presentations can be found at http://livestream.com/TJMonticello/events/5850065 for the first session and at http://livestream.com/TJMonticello/events/5992391 for the second session. Monticello staff were encouraged by their enthusiasm and look forward to staying in touch with these educators while preparing for MTI 2017 and the continued development of the evaluation made possible by IMLS. More information and applications for MTI 2017 can be found on the Monticello website.

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Written by Lora Cooper.

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