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Project Overview

The purpose of Exploring Primary Sources in Ethnic Studies is to gather interested secondary social studies teachers in Houston ISD to participate in professional development series aimed at developing community, knowledge, and skills around the practice of teaching ethnic studies in the social studies.

The Texas Education Agency has approved two ethnic studies courses, Mexican American Studies and African American Studies. Teachers will learn more about topics within the approved educator standards for these classes as well as where they intersect with other social studies courses.

Teachers will participate in a series of book studies, interactive sessions with historians and scholars, and learn to develop inquiry-based lesson plans over topics in ethnic studies utilizing the digital collections of the Library of Congress. 


Please explore the information below before you apply for this exciting professional learning opportunity!


Highsmith, Carol M., Donor, Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. Photographs of buildings in San Antonio, Texas. Texas Randolph Air Force Base Fort Sam Houston San Antonio Hemisfair Park, 2005. Photograph.

Professional Development Dates
Participation Requirements

The professional development series will run from January-August, 2024.

Participants will need to set aside 3-4 dates in the Spring semester to participate in book studies as well as the necessary time to prepare. Tentative spring dates are Thursday, February 15, Thursday, March 28, and Saturday May 11.

The participants will also engage in a 6-da in-person professional development seminar July 8-15, 2024.

Participants will complete and submit their lesson plan and resources by August, 2024 for publication.


Applicants should be current secondary social studies teachers (grades 6-12) in Houston ISD.

Elementary social studies teachers and secondary teachers of other subjects may also be considered for participation but priority will be given to those that teach secondary social studies.

It is not required that you currently be teaching an ethnic studies course.

Participation will be limited to 30 participants based on their application. 

Participants must be willing to commit to attending all professional development sessions.

Participants must also complete and submit a lesson or unit plan that is designed around inquiry-based learning and using the digital collections of the Library of Congress.

Anticipated Outcomes
  • Creation of an inquiry-based lesson plan using Library of Congress primary sources over a topic in African American or Mexican American History

  • Deeper content knowledge of topics in African American and Mexican American History

  • Stronger practice in teaching and working with primary sources with students

  • Inclusion in a broader social studies community in Houston ISD

  • Development as a leader among teachers of social studies in the district


Participants who complete all requirements for each portion of the grant period (spring/summer) will receive a $1000 stipend.

Summer Institute 2022

The Exploring Primary Sources in Ethnic Studies Summer Institute 2022 has now concluded. 

In partnership with the Boniuk Institute for Religious Literacy, the institute was held at Rice University from July 11-18. Teachers from across Houston ISD met with scholars and historians to deepen their knowledge of ethnic studies topics, engage in conversation, and build inquiries using the digital archives of the Library of Congress. 


Institute participants on the campus of Rice University


Teachers pose with Dr. Gayle Pagnoni and LaChardra McBride after a presentation on The Black Church

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