Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Storyboarding the Revolution

A visual activity I have created for my classroom combines activities that we participated in, in two different History Connected Seminars. I would borrow images from our most recent visit to the MFA, broadcasting images the Revolutionary War. I would then borrow an activity we did during our visit to the Antiquarian Society last year where we told a narrative through images.
I would create an electronic gallery of images by providing multiple different paintings from the Revolutionary War and asking groups of students to tell a story using five of the images. They can order the pictures either in chronological order, or in some other interesting artistic order. The end goal is to explain America’s revolution using MFA images as a medium of story telling. The narrative they create needs to explain some aspect of the Revolution, some examples being the story of the average American helping out, the bravery of General Washington, overcoming long odds against the British, or the story of slaves fighting for the Continental Army.
I believe this activity will ask students to look at bigger, overarching themes in the war, which will help them to address enduring legacies that have had long-term impact on the country. The activity can also be augmented to address a unit’s essential questions directly.

Here is the gallery students can use to create their storyboards: http://educators.mfa.org/galleries/gallery_create/4316

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slavery and the Declaration of Independence

In the spirit of our seminar on the Declaration of Independence, and our reading of the book Friends of Liberty, I decided to run an activity in my classroom about the absence of slavery in the Declaration of Independence. I would begin with a simple question:

What did Jefferson really mean by “All men are created equal?” How was he able to write this while simultaneously owning slaves?

Student opinions will vary, but the class discussion should center around the idea that even if some people supported freedom from slavery, they did not support equal opportunity for all people. In fact, Jefferson privately thought that the Africans may need to be sent back to Africa. Next I would present the paragraph about slavery that Jefferson had actually written into the Declaration of Independence.

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

I would have the class break up into small groups to generate answers to the following questions.

1. How does Jefferson blame slavery on the King?

2. Why would he think it was politically advantageous to do so?

3. Why was this section removed from the published Declaration?

4. Why would Northern delegates who had no love for slavery allow the Southern states to remove this section?

The class would wrap up by striking an important chord: Slavery was put on the back burner because Independence was considered the more important of the two issues. This became a trend in US History, with future failures to address slavery in the name of compromise. I would end class by stating that although Jefferson did not truly mean “All men are created equal,” his word did leave the door open for future generations to gain the long lost sense of equality.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Battle Lines: War Letters and Teaching American History

I love to blog with my students. I think it is a fantastic forum for homework, polls, idea sharing, and classwork management. Truthfully, unless there is a random October snowstorm that causes widespread week-long power outages, I think it is one of the best ways to communicate with students. I believe it is an important part of the future of teaching.

Being a blogging history teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for good online databases of primary sources. I recently discovered a new go-to source for war letters that spans American history, The Gilder Lehrman Institute: Battle Lines.

I intend to use this site for my unit on World War I. The letters from George Shisholm, Lawrence Hopkins, and Edward and Goldie Marcellus are featured from this conflict. They are digitized, read, and translated into typed text. They share stories from the WWI fighters home to loved ones. They are user friendly and perfect for high school history students.

I intend to direct my students to this site and have them analyze the three letters. I want them to study the letters for connections to course content, common themes, and interesting details. They will have to describe the letters, explain what they indicate about WWI from an American perspective, and write a fictional response to one of them from the perspective of the recipient. These responses will appear on our class blog so other students can read what their peers wrote.

I'm looking forward to using yet another great Gilder Lehrman tool with my classes. This site will be a perfect companion to last years War and Society themed TAH lessons and materials.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A New Year in History Connected!

On October 27, year 3 of the History Connected TAH grant began with a great school day seminar that covered varied topics from Lincoln and the wider world to curriculum realignment to an update on Common Core Standards. This was a great start to a promising year for the grant.

After our annual pre-test in the Reading Computer Labs, Professor David Quigley from Boston College gave a riveting lecture on Lincoln and the greater world. This was a great way to start the year because his ability to put the Civil War in a global context was fascinating. I know I have always taught this topic from an American perspective, but Professor Quigley used a series of primary sources from Lincoln to put the Civil War in a much larger Atlantic context. One source of note was Lincoln's eulogy of Henry Clay - a source I know I will use regularly in the future.

In addition to the academic lecture, the Reading history department led a presentation on the realignment of their curriculum to teaching U.S. history in a global context. Additionally, Professor Pat Fontaine from UMass Lowell presented on the Common Core Standards. Both of these presentations brought to light major changes happening in the teaching of history in public schools at the national, state, and local levels. It was great to hear about a local district like Reading realigning their curriculum to a system that reduces redundancies, allows for a technology-supported version of co-teaching, and a logical progression of change over time, historical themes, and a global context.

Professor Fontaine supported the ideas behind this realignment with her explanation of the Common Core Standards with an explanation of their connection to Race to the Top funds and a new teacher evaluation tool. All of these topics indicate great changes to how we, as history teachers, will do out jobs. There are going to be great changes to our profession because of federal, state, and local mandates and it is exciting to consider being leaders in these changes instead of the recipients of them. Professor Fontaine emphasized the role of writing in the history classroom. A website of note from the day is www.bubbl.us. This is a great online tool for creating graphic organizers that I am excited to use on my blog for upcoming writing assignments.

I am very excited to explore ways to teach American history from a global context. It's going to be a great year in History Connected!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Defining a Gentleman

At a book group meeting last year, we read the book Paul Revere's Ride. As a part of that meeting, we were handed out different pictures of paintings of revolution era figures. Two pictures in particular, Thomas Gage and Paul Revere demonstrated the differences in how Britain and the Colonies defined themselves, and defined what was proper. These artist's renderings give a small glimpse in the incompatibility between British and American leaders and their ideals.

My US History I class is now approaching the Revolutionary War unit, and with it the creation of an American identity. The following assignment was created for my May History Connected project and will be implemented in my classroom next week:

Assignment: Defining a Gentleman

The contrasts between mother country and colony continued to grow as the years passed. The British policy of Salutary Neglect allowed the colonies to take control of their own political and economic interests, and gave them a taste of independence. In this time, colonies like Massachusetts began to develop their own separate identities from the British and the British crown.

Sir Thomas Gage saw himself as a gentleman in a very traditional, old world sense. He came from wealth, went to the best military academies, and rose through the ranks to become a prominent British official serving as Governor of Massachusetts.

Paul Revere saw himself as a gentleman as well, but in a very different fashion. He was a hard working silversmith who came from a more modest source of family wealth, and worked tirelessly in his community to build his reputation as a leader in the Boston revolutionary movement. Two men, different goals, different worlds, different definitions of what it means to be a gentleman.

1. 1. Analyze the picture of Paul Revere. Explain how it lends a window into how he wanted to be portrayed. Factor in all aspects of the picture, including his clothes and his handling of his craftsmanship.

2. 2. Analyze the picture of Thomas Gage. Explain how it lends a window into how he wanted to be portrayed. Factor in all aspects of the picture, including his military uniform and the setting of the portrait.

3. 3. Compare and contrast the two portraits. How does it show the difference between the Revere’s and Gage’s definition as a gentleman? How does this illustrate the larger differences between Great Britain and the American colonies?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local History Connections

We've all been there. Progress reports come out, a poor test grade is earned, or a student simply wants to increase their grade average. I regularly have students asking for extra credit and I'm not always comfortable coming up with appropriate assignments for this.

Over the summer I was inspired by the Primary Source local history presentation to solve this very problem. I've found that focusing on local history is the perfect solution to the extra credit issue. Using my class blog, I've launched the Dracut Memorial Project. This project (accessed at http://historywithmrscarney.wordpress.com/dracut-memorial-project/) encourages students to see the memorials in our community that normally fade into the landscape. While only one student has participated in this, I anticipate the end of the first quarter will see an increase in participation. I'm excited to see how this works!

Media Role in American Wars

Welcome back everyone! Year 3 is on us, and I am very excited to engage ideas and materials with all of you once more.

In case you missed it, our 1st meeting this year focused on a lecture about media portrayals in the Vietnam War and the modern era. We discussed several prevailing thoughts about the role of the media in the war, and what effect it had. A few examples include:
1. Did negative press hurt morale and force a withdraw?
2. Is it ok to be critical of the war effort as a reporter in the field? Are there some things that the American people are better off not knowing?
3. Does reporter imbedding in military units ruin objectivity?

I applied this concepts to my Sociology class in a class discussion about values make up the American value system. I asked my class whether questioning the government could be considered patriotic, and whether protesting is an American value in the 21st century. The question resulted in a wide array of opinions, with both sides of the aisle being represented. Some people thought that the country was built on questioning authority, and others said that protests (like Occupy Wall Street) were irresponsible and un-American. Both sides agreed that 9/11 has affected an entire generation, creating much gray area on this topic.

Each student was given an assignment to go home and ponder the comparison between Vietnam protests, and the lack thereof for Iraq or Afghanistan. How has the media covered the war on terrorism? Why aren't people protesting another long and costly American War? Had the media become neutered with restrictions on access? Has the American public stopped asking important questions out of fear of terrorism? Why was Vietnam so much more profoundly opposed? Their ideas were crunched into talking points on index cards, and brought in for a robust class debate.

I was very impressed that the students came up with such strong opinions about how the media covers modern wars. Thanks to History Connected for the assist.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three Great Book Excerpts for US History I

There is no doubt that my teaching has greatly benefited from being a participant in the TAH Grant. With five years under my belt, I have been able to acquire a plethora of materials, new skills and a deepened breadth of knowledge about American history.

In this blog, I’d like to share how I use three books that we read in our book groups. Although I use a great deal of excerpts from readings which I obtained from the grant, the three highlighted today are standards that I use every year.

The first excerpt that I assign is from Founding Myths, Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael. “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: Lexington and Concord”, which is the title of chapter 4, works well to teach about the many rebellious actions the colonists in Massachusetts engaged in before the events of Lexington and Concord. Raphael includes statistics regarding the cost and volume of arms and powder the colonist accumulated prior to 1775. Additionally, he offers a superior explanation of how the British government was systematically ejected from western Massachusetts in 1774.

After we finish the Revolutionary War, I assign the first chapter; “The Call for Convention” from A Brilliant Solution, Inventing the American Constitution by Carol Berkin. Without a doubt, Berkin writes a very clear and easy to understand explanation of the Articles of Confederation and the reasons why this first constitution fell short of expectation for many. Being much more pleasurable to read than a text book, Berkin writes with a narrative style and offers interesting details about the process of throwing out the Articles and constructing the Constitution.

The third selection that my students receive regularly is from The Approaching Fury by Stephen B. Oates. I excerpted from the chapter titled “Crosswinds:, pp. 97 to 185. In Oates’ book, he takes on the personality of famous antebellum characters and has put together monologues which reflect their personalities and views before the Civil War. The characters in this selection include Frederick Douglass, John C. Calhoun, George Fitzhugh, Abraham Lincoln, Harriett Beecher Stow, Stephen Douglas and John Brown. By reading the monologues of these historical characters, the students get an incite into their personalities and are exposed
to the issues of the period as seen by each of these Americans.

Textbooks are a necessary part of learning US history, but by offering well written and researched writings by talented authors, our students can access historical issues in depth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gearing Up For Year Three!

In preparation for year three of History Connected, year two's participants gathered together on October 4th for a night of sharing, listening and learning.

We had the pleasure of sitting in on an eye opening lecture from Professor Rick Bayles, an ex-war time correspondent and current BU professor. Upon learning of his first have accounts on battle field correspondence I immediately went back to my lesson plans on the Vietnam War and added in the newly acquired information.

During our sharing conference our group shared lesson plans on the Home Front during the Civil War, Japanese Interment, the American Revolution and Paul Revere. All of the projects incorporated aspects of year two's focus on War, Society, State Citizenship.

With only one week to go, I am eagerly awaiting the start of year three and the theme of American Encounters: U.S. History in a Global Context and hope to take away as much as I did during year two.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

National History Day and History Connected

My high school is an avid supporter and participant of National History Day. Over the years, our students have grown from hating this program to truly appreciating the skills it teaches and the products they are able to produce. We have sent students to Nationals in Maryland but have yet to be successful there. The experience though has been once in a life time for our students.

This years theme is Revolution, Reaction and Reform.

As my students begin the process of picking topics I find my self drawn to previously discussed History Connected topics. Already, I have mentioned the Bread and Roses Strike, the Roberts v. City of Boston case, the abolitionist movement and role of the media during war time (as discussed during our sharing conference).

I'm excited to be to able to put my History Connected experience to use with a wide range of students and outside of the classroom. I only hope that they become as interested in these topics that I am.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What do Paul Revere, The Civil War, September 11, the film “Glory”, World War II homefront and Haverhill’s War Memorials have in common? These were the lesson topics discussed at the curriculum sharing portion of our wrap-up day On October 4. Teachers are using diverse strategies: poetry, Prezi, podcasts, and cooperative learning activities such as ‘fishbowl’, and tableaux. Combining these strategies with the rich ‘out of the box’ content we learn makes for engaging lessons that students can grab on to. Even though as teachers we present every day, it can be daunting for us to present to our peers. As these lessons were presented however, the colleagues were very open and positive about commenting on how they could apply aspects of these lessons in their own classes and encouraging further exploration about the topics. Presenters were very generous in sharing ideas, insights and materials with others. The curriculum sharing was such a wonderful culmination of year two…….

And now: Looking forward to Year Three…

A full day at The MFA’s New American Wing..The JFK Library!!! Wow Kara-- you have outdone yourself. Look at this season’s offerings. The idea of History Connected is brought to a whole new level.

Introduction: American Encounters: US History in Global Context
“Submitted to a Candid World:” The Declaration of Independence in a Global Context
American Art and History in an International Context at the Art of the Americas Wing, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Antebellum American Religion and Reform in an International Context
Transnational Migration since the Late-Nineteenth Century
Presenting History: Using Weebly to Create Student and Teacher Websites
“The Wilsonian Moment:” Woodrow Wilson’s Post-World War I Diplomacy on the World Stage
“Bringing the Foundation of Freedom:" The Global Influence of U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1960s

The idea of History Connected is brought to a whole new level. Religion, the world scene, art, politics, JFK, migration- topics that all social studies teachers will be able to use creatively in their classes. My high school students tend to become more engaged in lesons when there is a relevant theme. The U.S. on the world scene has never been more relevant than now.

Let us then... carry on !

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Current Events Blog

I was inspired this summer during the Primary Source Institute by Mary and the blog she set up for her US History II class. This is my first year teaching American Civics and Government and I quickly learned that my most of my students have no idea what is going on with issues in our government. I decided that I want my students to be reading current events on a regular basis so I set up a current events blog. Each week every student has to find a current event article related to the American government. They must post a summary and opinion on the isssue discussed in the article. After the initial posting is done, each student must read another classmate's post and make a thoughtful comment about it. Sometimes I give the students a specific topic for the current event, but most of the time the topic is their choice. I like to see what topics they are drawn to and what their thoughts are on the issue. When I see that students are writing about the same issues, I will bring the topics up for a brief discussion in class. I can also determine which issues need some clarification. I am interested to see how their comments will evolve throughout the school year as they learn more about the American government.

I have been so pleased with the current events blog that I have started using blogging in my US History I class as well. I give them a higher order critical thinking question and the students must post a response. For example, I gave them a scenario about being a poor, low class citizen in England who has been given the opportunity to go to America. Would he/she take it? All the students post their decisions and their reasons why.

EDMODO has been a great tool for my foray into blogging. Each class gets assigned a code so this means I can set up separate blogs for all my classes. The students can only see what their classmates have written and it is easy for me to keep track of each student's contributions.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teaching with a Theme

For the past two years I have been inspired to bring as much as possible of my professional development endeavors into the classroom. This task has been daunting at times since I feel that just about everything I learn about, I could find a use for in my class. The challenge comes with fitting it all in and deciding what to actually use and what to cut out. To help with this dilemma, I decided to add a “theme” each year to my U.S. History II course. These themes come from the professional development programs I have been apart of. So far, it has worked out well. I share my “theme” for the year with my students on the first day of school, in conjunction with going over the requirements for our department-wide focus for U.S. History II, the Sophomore Research Paper. At Wilmington High School, all students have to write a historical research paper using primary sources. We provide students with the same guidelines and rubrics and get them started during term one and finish up term three. Therefore, it made the most sense for me to have students connect the paper topics to this theme I would be integrating into our class throughout the year.

For the 2010/2011 school year, my theme came from a NEH Landmarks of American workshop I attended in Cleveland, MS at Delta State University entitled “The Most Southern Place on Earth.” This was the most valuable professional development experience of my career! I gained an unbelievable amount of resources that I was excited to share with my students. At the top are some pictures from a display case I created from all of the materials.

My students used many of these sources in their research papers. This workshop is being offered this year, so I encourage you to apply. You can find more information here: http://www.blueshighway.org/mostsouthernplace.htm. I highly recommend it! I started that school year introducing the theme of “Southern Culture” into my course. We aead and had a jigsaw discussion from a chapter of James. C. Cobb’s The Most Southern Place on Earth and all students’ research papers had to connect to southern culture in some way. I honestly believe that in addition to learning the state frameworks, my students walked away with a strong understanding of southern culture and its impact on historical events in the U.S.

This year my theme is War and Society, which was inspired from the History Connected Primary Source Summer 2011 course. So far, all students have picked a research paper topic that connects to the theme. Next we are going to have a jigsaw discussion on an excerpt from Richard E. Rubenstein’s Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War. This will provide us with a framework to discuss American Wars as we analyze Rubenstein’s key rationales for war presented in his first chapter. I am also going to implement the projects I created from History Connected as well as materials from book groups, day and summer seminars. I hope this year will be as successful as last year and that I my students will learn more about the thematic concept of the impact on war on society!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Empowering Students In the "Choice" for War

Through a series of five lessons titled, Mobilizing the Hearts and Minds of the American Public in WWI, students are asked to consider through primary source analysis and debate how the government, most often represented by the President and Congress, shape public opinion, and, by extension, the responsibility of the public to embrace their democratic responsibility of participation. I wanted to share a few activities that are a part of this series.

First, as a starting point to the series, I felt it important to remind students of the basics, to start at the foundation of the US government and country, the US Constitution. In this first activity, students are asked to recall what the Constitution says about war, what power and authority do government officials actually have? In a twist on the traditional KWL chart, I ask students to brainstorm what they know or think they know on what the Constitution says about war AND what they think the Constitution should say about war. Students are then asked to skim through the Constitution, correcting or affirming what they knew or thought they knew. By giving students the opportunity to brainstorm what the Constitution should say about war, you provide an opportunity for debate, evaluation, and exploration. Debrief as a whole class, reflecting on what surprised them, hypothesizing reasons for what the Constitution says and omits about war, and critiquing and evaluating the effectiveness of “direction” it provides. As a homework assignment, I ask students to brainstorm an amendment they feel will address, clarify, protect a value that has been left vulnerable by absence or lack of clarity.

At the end of this series of five lessons, in which students have read presidential and congressional speeches, supporting and opposing war, and analyzing propaganda posters, students are asked to participate as members of a democratic nation. Students are required to reflect and apply the concepts they’ve discussed as a class and write a letter to their state’s senator or representative. They must find out who their representative is, his/her address, and their position on the war in Afghanistan. Students’ letters must introduce themselves, state their opinion on the US’s involvement in Afghanistan, defend their opinion with two or three reasons (reasons that were discussed throughout the lessons), and end with a strong and persuasive conclusion.

I accessed Wilson’s address to Congress asking for war, Senator LaFollette’s “It has no popular support,” speech, and the North American Review’s, “War is a blessing, not a curse,” article from History Matters, American Social History Productions, Inc. [http://historymatters.gmu.edu/]. To see more of these lessons, check back to the History Connected website! [historyconnected.wikispaces.com]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thinking about the summer...

As usual I am amazed at how we all sat in the classroom and got the same training this summer, yet the projects are incredibly varied. This is a reflection not only on our own personalities and priorities, but on the needs and interests of our students.

My own project attempts to connect U.S. History to Child Psychology by examining how children remember war. Students will use their own memories as well as quotes from children as far back as the civil war to gather information. They will showcase their learning by performing a voicethread.

Quotes from participants on their projects:

“I worked on a film study focusing on the segment The Homefront from ABC's news The Century, America's Time with Peter Jennings.” MC

“It will provide students with the historical context necessary to understand how the Civil War ended, and the important role that Haverhill citizens played in it. The inspiration for this unit came from the discussion of The Republic of Suffering” EB

“My project is called "How We Remember: Local Historical Monuments." Students look at a Google Earth tour of local memorials. They learn to look for symbolism and use the "Artifact Analysis" worksheet from the National Archives. Later, they create an original local monument to honor the anniversary of the 9 11 2001 terrorist attacks using what they have learned.” AJ

“My project has the students analyzing two documents, Lincoln's letter to Horace Greeley and the Emancipation Proclamation. They do so in hopes of getting a better understanding of Lincoln's feelings toward slavery as president and personally.” CC

While we know that text books are a valuable resource, real teaching tools are all around us, as is evidence of history. Books, monuments, documentaries and primary documents are brought to life for students as they go through the activities. Depth of understanding and the realization that these things really do matter to us increase as students use critical thinking skills such as analysis, comparison and evaluation in such inviting ways.

Thanks to Primary Source and History Connected in allowing us to explore these issues!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The History Behind Memorial Day

Although I know we are 4 months beyond the last Memorial Day and will wait 8 more months before it comes around again, I was fascinated to learn how it came to be through my readings from the History Connected program this year.  I knew it became an official American holiday in the late twentieth century, but I did not know the roots of Memorial Day stretch all the way back to the post-Civil War era.

To understand this American desire to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, one must first understand the scale of death that Americans were coping with in the wake of the War Between the States.
The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, an estimated 620,000, is approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined.  The Civil War's rate of death, its incidence in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II.  A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean 6 million fatalities.-Faust, pg xi.
So how did they cope?  How does a society ensure that it does not forget the horrors of a war like that, but at the same time prevent the memories from becoming all-consuming and preventing progress?

I found the answer in another book.
Soon after the war ended, the GAR [Grand Army of the Republic, a large and successful Union veterans organization led by a U.S. senator and former Union general named John Logan] began to encourage the commemoration of Memorial Day, a day dedicated to remembering the war dead. To a certain extent the GAR had merely standardized and formalized an increasingly common observance. In the South, as early as 1865, groups of women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers and held memorial services in the spring. The custom spread north in 1866 and 1867 and was celebrated on a wide variety of spring days. The GAR played a crucial role in turning Memorial Day into a widely observed holiday in the North and in eventually making it an official federal holiday.-Piehler, pg 58.
Of course, being who I am, I wanted to find out more and to find some multimedia resources I could share with my students when the holiday comes around again next year.  After a little searching on YouTube and TeacherTube, I found a decent little video on the history of Memorial Day, formerly referred to at Decoration Day, at History.com.

OK, so I have a good video clip of the history.  Now how do I connect all of this to their own lives?  I needed a video that showed the students how meaningful Memorial Day still is.  Unlike the post-Civil War era, many Americans in our time don't know anyone who has died in sacrifice for our nation.  The history should touch our students in order for them to best learn from it.  History.com came through again with a touching tribute that contains both historical and present-day footage.  I teared up when I first watched it.

I managed to work all of this information into my final project for Year Two of the History Connected program.  Feel free to check it out to learn more.  It is called Civil War: Behind the Scenes, and it strives to show students the parts of Civil War history that are often glossed over by text books and state curriculum frameworks.

I hope this information on Memorial Day will be useful to you and your students in 8 more months.  In the mean time, we should encourage our students to be mindful of the sacrifices others make for us more often than once per year on an official holiday.

Faust, Drew Gilpin. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 2008. 
Piehler, G. Kurt. Remembering War the American Way. Washington: Smithsonian Books, 1995.
History of Memorial Day Video, http://www.history.com/topics/memorial-day-history/videos#history-of-memorial-day
Memorial Day Tribute Video, http://www.history.com/videos/a-memorial-day-tribute#history-of-memorial-day

Friday, September 23, 2011

History Connected Institute Inspires A New Memorial

Over this past summer, I was able to be a part of the History Connected Summer Institute. During this institute, we spend one day focusing on the war memorials and went on a walking tour of some of the memorials, monuments, and markers that the city of Lowell had present. After much discussion, my colleague Tracey Kassin and I began to discuss the possibilities of applying this new knowledge to creating a 9/11 memorial for the town of Wilmington, which we both teach in. We have taken the time over the summer to meet a number of times with our Superintendent of Schools and Town Manager in order to create a war memorial for those who have recently lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those who lost their lives during 9/11. Initially, the memorial was scheduled to be on our town common along with our other war memorials. After lengthy discussions and meetings we agreed it might be best to arrange to have the war memorial in the courtyard of our new high school. With the upcoming ten year anniversary, we have worked to organize a committee which will meet with the team of engineers and architects that are presently designing our new high school. We have created a 5-6 day lesson plan on War Memorials using the text Lies Across America by James W. Loewen as a resource. We hope to have the students involved in the process as much as possible. This is a great teaching and learning experience for our students and something that is important for our Town. This project is a long term project which will be student based.

The progress that we have made so far with this project is as follows. We have already formed a 9/11 Memorial Committee consisting of 35 students, the town manager, superintendent of schools, and two history teachers (Tracey Kassin and myself). We kicked off this project on September 11th of this year during the 10 year anniversary tribute which our town hosted on the common. Along with members of the police, fire and military members of our town, Our committee president (student) and I were able to each give a speech to all those present explaining the goals of our 9/11 Memorial Committee. Tracey Kassin has designed a website for our Memorial Committee and we have already begun to receive calls and e-mails from people who are interested in contributing financially or lending a helping hand. The committee has been working on designing containers to collect donations from students of all ages in the various school buildings, as well as designing t-shirts to sell as fundraisers on Veterans and Memorial Day. .We have also organized a field trip to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City for our student to visit, pay their respects and learn more about this event. This project is student based and a long term project, which in the end will serve as a great teaching/learning experience as well as a memorial for those who have sacrificed for us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wilmington Inspired by Primary Source: War and Society course!

In the summer of July 2011, Mark Staffier and I took the course offered by Primary Source, a History Connected summer institute, which focused on War and Society. After listening to our guest lecturer and viewing Lowell monuments on our final day, we began discussing the commitment our town has to honoring veterans and its strong patriotic values. It was there, as we sat around a table on the bottom floor of the Pollard Memorial Library, during our final hours of our week-long course, that we decided we would like to try and get momentum going for a 9/11 Memorial in Wilmington. Two months later, I can not believe how our initial discussion has led to a town-wide, student-driven initiative to have a 9/11 Memorial! I shouldn’t be surprised though, because Wilmington Public Schools and the Town of Wilmington have always been supportive of me, personally as a teacher, and of the values this memorial would represent. Most importantly, Mark and I knew that we had the student-body at Wilmington High School that would bring the energy, enthusiasm, passion and hard-work to make this a reality.

Since July, Mark and I have met with and spoken to school and local officials to see what options were available to us. Wilmington Superintendent, Mrs. Joanne Benton, immediately gave us her full support. She single-handedly helped shift this memorial from an idea to a project. After that, we received support from Town Manager, Mr. Michael Caira, building principals, and local groups in town. With their collaboration, we now hope to make this memorial part our newly anticipated high school!

When school started, our colleagues in the Social Studies Department jumped right in, offered their help, and got students in their classes on board. We held an informational meeting and that is where the heart behind our project developed. Much to our delight, the students took over! One student, who was nominated President of the committee, Senior Matt Palermo, came to the meeting with a computer animated image of a design, which spring boarded our discussion as students offered their suggestions. From there, we talked about fundraising ideas and outreach initiatives to the town. Since then, we’ve had an endless stream of students stopping by our classrooms. Some are new faces that want to get involved, while others are ones that attended our meeting and have logo designs and new ideas. They simply can not wait until our next meeting to talk about this with us! All of these students are excited, which really brings such positive energy into my day! What amazes me the most is that all of these students have really only experienced 9/11 second-hand, yet they are full-committed to this project. We are so lucky to have students like that!

On the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11th, Mark and Matt were invited to speak at the Town Common at a ceremony to announce our initiative. For those of you that know me, you are probably not surprised to know that I suggested Mark do the speaking! I am more of a behind-the-scenes person, to say the least! As I stood out there with some fellow colleagues, parents, students, committee members and people from the town, I was again inspired to commemorate the lives that were lost on that horrific day.

I spoke with people around me about where I was that day. Like so many others old enough to remember, I will never forget that day. I was two weeks into my teaching career and had no idea how to explain to a room full of teenagers what I had seen when I snuck into the back of the library, during my free period, to see some of the coverage. By the time I got there, I saw the towers collapse live....then twenty minutes later, I had to go back to teaching. At that point, we did not share what was happening with our students. Then, after our principal made an announcement and gave us permission to discuss it, I was still at a loss. No one had talked about that sort of thing in an edu class or student-teaching. In retrospect, I see that nothing could have prepared any of us and that there was no right/wrong way to deal with it. Years later, I am able to appreciate being in a Wilmington school when that happened. Back then, the staff was very tight-knit, with many young colleagues that bonded during their first few years teaching and were welcomed by the veteran staff. I am still close with those people today. So in this way, I can tell you that being part of a project of this magnitude serves two purposes for me on a personal level. First, I want to show my gratitude for the town that supported and encourage my professional endeavors, both ten years ago and today. Secondly, as I am now having students in my class that do not remember experiencing 9/11, I would like to share with them all of the positive things that came out of living through that event and acknowledge the sacrifice and loss of the lives that perished.

If you want to stay posted on our project, check out our website for updates: https://sites.google.com/site/wilmington911memorial/

Thank you to Primary Source and History Connected, funded by the Teaching American History grant for providing the inspiration for something that will forever impact the students of Wilmington High School and the Town of Wilmington and honor the lives lost because of 9/11.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monuments as a Teaching Tool

This summer at the Primary Source Institute the idea of using monuments as a mechanism for teaching about history was presented. I decided to incorporate this idea into the lesson plan I am creating on the U.S. conflicts with the Native Americans in the nineteenth century. For the first three days of the lesson students will learn about and analyze the various conflicts. Seeing that these conflicts are viewed quite differently than they were in the nineteenth century I thought students could examine these different perspectives by developing memorials for the last two days of the lesson. This activity will also help the students put themselves into the shoes of the people involved in these conflicts.

The students will be divided into four groups. Each group will create a memorial from a different perspective. There will be two Native American groups who commission memorials, but one group is from 1890 and one is from 2011. There will be two United States government groups who commission memorials, one group is from 1890 and one is from 2011. A discussion of each group's final product will not only allow students to delve deeper into the conflicts themselves, but help them realize all the factors that play into the development of momuments themselves.

I have not tried this yet so we will see how it goes!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lincoln Without the Sugar Coating

TAH’s Encounters and Exchanges, the predecessor to History Connected, began five years ago. It’s first history book club discussion group read Founding Myths by Ray Raphael. The presentation, Race and the Civil War, given by Professor Patrick Kelly of University of Texas at San Antonio at History Connected’s summer institute, made me think it would be fitting to include Lincoln, as his Gettysburg address initiates the re-founding of the United States, recalling the sacred principles of 1776, in this book.

Professor Kelly opened with the idea that Lincoln is the victim of his myth, -that he was, from the start, a hero to the slaves, their champion, working for and in their best interest- which unfortunately overshadows two of his greatest qualities, the evolution of his thought and his role in the transformation of the US to a multicultural democracy. Professor Kelly used the Freedmen’s Monument in Lincoln Park to illustrate this myth. A picture of this monument would serve as a great hook. Perhaps your essential questions could be, “How is Lincoln remembered?” and “How should Lincoln be remembered?” In opening a lesson with a picture of the Freedmen’s Monument, you could use the following questions to guide a student discussion in pursuit of these essential questions, “What is the message of the statue?,” “What is the purpose of the monument?,” and “What are the different interpretations of the monument?”.

Professor Kelly used two primary source documents that reveal insight into how Lincoln should be remembered. In an August 22, 1862 letter written in response to critique from the editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, Lincoln explains and defends his interpretation of his duty as President, to save the Union. (In analyzing this document, a great starting point would be to ask students to county how many times Lincoln uses this language/idea.) This focus of Lincoln’s letter is essential to understanding not only his interpretation of his constitutional responsibilities but of how he gained public support for the war. Though some Northerners were against slavery, it didn’t mean that they cared about the individual slave. I constantly remind my students of this reality, that though whites were willing to die in defense of their country, very few would be willing to die for an African American. It’s a harsh reality, but illustrates the constituency that voted for Lincoln in 1860 and he would need them to vote again for him in 1864.

Professor Kelly paired this source with Frederick Douglass’s “Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln,” April 14, 1867, which was delivered at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Monument. Frederick Douglass puts it out there, reminding people, in light of the statue of Lincoln guiding an African American up from his knees and out of his chains, that Lincoln was a politician, doing what he needed to do for his people. The words of Douglass seemed to sting at first, it was almost blasphemous to me to present Lincoln with the sugar coating of his myth.

So where does that leave Lincoln? No fear, we can still keep him on a pedestal. Professor Kelly ended his presentation in stressing that the greatness of Lincoln was that he was a flawed person from a flawed society, but he launched America into a new, multicultural democratic nation. As the idea of myths in history have been popular in the history classroom, hooking students’ interest with the real story, perhaps, this lesson idea would be an interesting continuation of this thread throughout your curriculum. I know I am interested to see how my students interact with these documents and their understanding of Lincoln and American society develops!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Institute 2011

After this past weeks summer institute I plan to incorporate two of our trips to a course that I am slowly but surely putting together for my history department at my high school. The course that I have been putting together is a local history course. In this course we will be examining our immediate local history in Wilmington and then expanding to outer cities like Lowell, Boston, Lawrence, etc. I also would eventually like to incorporate other New England states like New Hampshire and maybe even Maine someday.

The two trips that we were able to take advantage of during our History Connected Summer Institute have provided me with great resources and information that I plan to incorporate into this course. Beginning with the trip to the city of Lowell, it was so fascinating to see all of the war memorials and history that was in the city. I immediately focus on industry when I teach about Lowell, but another angle of history we could incorporate would be how the city/society dealt with American conflict/wars over time.

The other trip that I would love to include in this course was to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I believe that our students would gain a great deal (military history) if they were able to visit the Naval Shipyard. The history that has taken place in that Naval Shipyard alone is such an intriguing story, I am positive that our students would be engaged. Starting in 1800 and continuing today, this shipyard is so rich in history, it defines our country and how it has faired throughout our times of success and struggle.

The last portion of our trip was to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH., which provides us with social history and views during the events that have taken place in our country beginning in 1630 up until present day. We were able to take a tour of Fitz John Porter: Civil War Hero or Coward? and trace the life and military career of Porter. This activity is something our students would engage themselves in and take a great deal away from it. We were also able to witness the construction of a wooden vessel (gundalow) at the Puddle Dock which is part of the history of the Piscataqua shipbuilding process over the past 300 years. Also, Strawbery Banke provided us with some great social history from the World War I and II time period. The experience that we had in the Rationing Store and the Victory Gardens were great hands on experiences. Our students would be amazed at the sacrifices that took place during these times and how much war really did impact society at that time. I am optimistic that I will be able to share these experiences with my student someday through a local history course.

The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides

After reading the book Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides by Christian Appy, I was very impressed. Appy provides his readers with multiple perspectives on the Vietnam War, including various political and military viewpoints. This is a quality that is seldom found in historian’s works, but one which I value very much.

From a teacher’s perspective it is nice to find a book on a historical event in which the historian provides all sides of the incident. Much like the book Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II by Ronald Takaki, which we had been previously assigned, my students are able to read specific assigned chapters and use them to argue or write about their point of view. After reading the book Patriots, I have decided to use three different sections of this book along with some of the scenes from the movie We Were Soldiers. In teaching about the Vietnam War, I have assigned my student three specific sections of the book Patriots. I am going to have them read all three of these sections and then compare the reading with one of the extra scenes from We Were Soldiers.

Before introducing the video, I am going to have my students read pages 130 -135, the Dennis Deal. They will analyze the quote at the beginning and then discuss their thoughts on the section of the text. I will bring up issues such as the Vietnamese tradition of Death Day and issues our soldiers were confronted with, such as guilt, trauma, and they dealt with it. Following this discussion we will preview some of the deleted scenes from We Were Soldiers. The following class I will assign them the “Henry Prunier reading on page 38. We will also discuss this reading and proceed to watch the actual movie We Were Soldiers.

 Lastly, I plan to incorporate the final section of this book when I am discussing the Cold War. I am assigning my students to read pages 87-89, which deals with Sergei Khrushchev and his views on his father and the issues in Vietnam.  After reading Patriots, I immediately have incorporated three different sections of this book into my teaching. I look forward to using more portions of this book in the future and I am glad that were introduced to such a great resource.

Connection to MA Frameworks: US II 20. Explain the causes, course, and consequences of the Vietnam War and summarize the diplomatic and military policies of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

War of 1812 Through the Eyes of Children... and Primary Source Analysis Skills Too!

Although I am also a participant, I had to opportunity and honor of presenting a breakout workshop at this year's History Connected summer institute.  Since the focus of the institute this year is on the impact that American wars have had on American society, I reached back into my files from a few years ago when I taught U.S. history in 8th grade to find a webquest I created on the War of 1812.  Teachers got to "play student" and take part in a shortened version of the 4 day lesson.  Click the screen shot below to see the webquest website.

Here is a brief day by day guide of the primary sources and analysis skills that students use as they complete the 4 day webquest.

Day 1: Introduction to the Webquest and Madison's Declaration of War

Students choose to be either Eliza or Joshua.  Both are 14-year-olds living in the United States before and during the war.  

Then the students move on to reading Madison's war message explaining his reasons for asking Congress to declare war.  Since the lesson was written for heterogeneous classes of 8th graders, I needed to find a way to break down the speech into manageable parts. So, I put excerpts of the speech in a worksheet with missing words or phrases.  Students had to skim the speech for the excerpts to fill in the missing information and then answer guided questions that helped them understand the meaning of Madison's words.

After completing this analysis, students wrote a half page journal entry from the perspective of Eliza or Joshua reacting to the news and incorporating some of the reasons for war from the primary source into their writing.

Day 2: Old Ironsides - U.S.S. Constitution & the H.M.S. Guerriere

After reading some brief historical background on the importance of the battle between these two frigates early in the war, students read Oliver Wendell Holmes' peom Old Ironsides, which was actually written as a memorial several decades later.  Holmes remembers the reactions of his fellow Americans in his childhood during the actual war.  Reading 19th century poetry is daunting for 8th graders.  So this time, students are asked to choose one stanza and translate its meaning into their own words.  Then, as with Day 1, students write a half page journal entry from the perspective of either Eliza or Joshua reacting to the American victory and huge boost in morale.

Day 3: The Burning of Washington D.C.

On the third day students experience a big let down after the huge victory of the U.S.S. Constitution early in the war.  The British successfully blockaded the entire Atlantic coast, and then captured and burned the capital, Washington D.C.  This time students look at an engraving and political cartoon that were created at the time reacting to the events.  They also read First Lady Dolley Madison's letter to her sister expressing her fears as the British approached the city.  To understand the significance of the images, students are either asked to identify items in them or to recognize the mood of each image to interpret the reactions that people had at the time.  For Dolley Madison's letter, students once again scan for excerpt in order to complete them and then answer questions about them.  Finally, once again, they write a half page journal entry from the perspective of Eliza or Joshua reacting to the horrible news.

Day 4: Fort McHenry & the Star Spangled Banner

On the last day of the exercise students learn about the bombardment of Fort McHenry and the events that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that would eventually become our national anthem.  Once again, 19th century poetry is not the most engaging content for 8th graders, so they are asked to choose one of the stanzas that we do not sing as part of the anthem song and put it into their own words.  It helps students to understand that although the bombardment caused major destruction, the fact that Americans held the fort served as an inspiration to carry on.  Students then write one last journal entry reacting once again.

Hopefully, after completing the 4 day exercise, students will understand the variety of emotions that can be triggered by war.  Typically there is enthusiasm at the start when people believe in the cause.  Early victories, like the U.S.S. Constitution, can fuel that fire.  But devastating defeats, such as the burning of Washington, tend to give people a dose of the realities of war and they might even start questioning whether the war is worth the cost.  The activity gives students, who have never experienced wartime sacrifice, some empathy.  In order for students to truly understand, and hopefully remember, history they need to be able to relate to the people who lived it.  Hopefully, this activity gave them an opportunity to do just that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Civil War Walking Tour of Lowell

This year’s book group inspired me to bring the study of the Civil War home to my students. As a teacher at Lowell High School, I’m quite used to lots of history in this city. The students are very used to it as well. Throughout grammar school and into their junior year in high school, Lowell students are subject to informative trips to the mills and in-class presentations by outstanding park rangers. Every bit of Lowell history that is offered to our students is of the highest quality and executed by extremely qualified and knowledgeable individuals at school and in the community.

The Civil War touched so much of this country and that is well understood; but specifically, what about Lowell? My search for an answer to this question was inspired by Professor Robert Forrant, as well as one of the books that we read this year, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust.

In front of Lowell High School and City Hall is a magnificent monument located on a triangle in the middle of a busy intersection. Each day I drive past it and I try to gather some information from afar as I look through my moving car window. Not long ago, I realized that it was a Civil War monument from my glances. With a little bit of digging, I discovered that it was a monument and grave site of two men whose names were Ladd and Whitney. These two men were from Lowell, and were two of the first four men killed in the Civil War.

With this information, I went right to the Lowell High librarian who provided me with additional Civil War information. I learned that the City of Lowell’s library (Memorial Library) was named in honor of those from Lowell who were killed in the war. In the Library, there was a great deal art work and decoration honoring the those who serve in the war including three enormous murals pained by Paul Philippoteaux of Gettysburg’s cyclorama fame.

Armed with this information, I uncovered an additional treasure. On Jackson Street in Lowell there is the Lowell Gallery which is a framing store. The proprietor, Guy Lefebvre is a significant student of Lowell Civil War history and has created a fantastic small museum in his store. His museum emphasizes the Lowell’s native son Benjamin Butler an the Ladd and Whitney Monument.

Without hesitation, I put together a walking tour of these sites for my students. Allotting two periods for each class, we walked to the Ladd-Whitney Monument, the Pollard Library and ended up at the Gallery on Jackson St. My reward for putting the entire thing together was hearing multiple students say, “I didn’t know that this was here.”

For this year, my work is done.

(Photographs courtesy of John Wren.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Voicethread for the Civil War

At the Primary Source Institute last summer I was introduced to Voicethread. With this website a person can post pictures and make comments about the pictures. I had been wanting to use it all year, but just never seemed to have the time. Finally, at the end of the school year I was able to use it to introduce Reconstruction. I posted seven pictures from the end of the Civil War that represent the problems the United States was facing. The students then got usernames, passwords and either typed or recorded their comments about each picture. To see what was done you can go to voicethread.com/share/1251356/

There were pros and cons to this activity. The students definitely enjoyed it. In our discussion of the pictures after they viewed them it was evident that the students read and listened to their classmates comments. Several of them told me that they had wished we did this earlier and more times during the school year. My one disappointment was over the quality of the comments. I did give this to ninth graders, but comments like "is that a tree?" were not particularly insightful. Next year I will give more guidance in the types of comments I would like them to make.

After doing this activity, I got to thinking that I would be a great way for students to tell a story about some aspect of the Civil War. They would create their own voicethread. As it has been mentioned already in the blog, there are a lot of photographic resources for the Civil War. Students could focus on a battle, camp conditions, or Lincoln's role in the war and relay that information by putting a series of pictures together. They would then provide historical facts and commentary on the pictures. After the projects are complete other students could view the individual voicethreads and make comments or ask questions.

I was surprised at how much this seemingly simple activity interested the students. Over the past several years I have been trying to integrate more technology into the classroom, but the response I received over this activity has proven to me that I need to make an even more concentrated effort at doing this.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Year in Review

Like many of you, I have spent the last few days winding down my curriculum and wrapping up my school year. With this comes the obligatory final exam review.

My students of course ask, what is on the exam? What should we study? Any my reaction is always- EVERYTHING! HA

In all seriousness though, as I look back on this year, spent both in my classroom and with History Connected, I am drawn back to Paul Revere's Ride.

I constantly remind my students that it only takes one person, one idea and one action to change the world.

Although recent actions in our political arena have brought up Revere's name again, my students and all of us, as History Connected participants, will never forget Revere's role in the play that was the American Revolution.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


As I was reading through the current blog page I was interested by the amount of subject areas and methods that reflect ‘today’. I pulled a few quotes from the blogs and the following are my personal reflections:

Many students question the value of studying history but comparing past elections to the “Presidential election of 2012” or even Obama’s election can bring history to life.

“As the nation remembers the sesquicentennial of the Civil War”, this topic keeps coming up on the radio and television. Many students will agree that all the issues raised by slavery and abolition have not really been totally dealt with in today’s society- there is still observable inequity. I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie “The Conspirators” about Lincoln’s assassination- hopefully many will go see it.

“Reflection: A great deal of students did not understand the idea of a paradox.” I loved this lesson because a paradox is truly a compelling problem and its important for students to understand that these things happen today as well as to our human family throughout history—what a connection to the past.

These methods allow the students to interact with history in technological ways they are very comfortable with:
“I started my blog”:
“Polldaddy and Survey Monkey”
“Create a Prezi or website about their person”
Such a wide variety of activities that can help translate history into a ‘language’ they understand

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Election Activity

With the Presidential election of 2012 about to launch into national relevance, the topic of American elections is becoming increasing important to address in the classroom. I have found myself touching on the topic in both my US History I class and my Sociology class. Civics and voter participation are topics that transcend all areas of social studies.

A lesson about American elections should begin with a question to the class: how important is to vote in America today? Most students generally consider voting to be a privilege that they do not have yet, and therefore have not put much thought into.

Last year during a HC seminar on the right to vote, we were shown an image of the election of 1852. The picture made voting day out to be a celebration, with people drinking and bringing their families. Politicians engaged on a personal level with voters, even feet from the ballot box. The picture really got me thinking, how much has voting and pride in civic responsibility changed since then?

In my US History I classes, I put two pictures on the board, one of the election of 1852, and another of present day voting procedure. Lining them up, I asked each student to draw several conclusions about each, and then to compare the two. The results were striking, indicating that modern day voting is less a celebration and more a chore that people don’t love, but might feel guilty about not doing. The lines, sterile environment, and lack of good natured campaigning sucks much of the excitement out of the institution of exercising your voice in a Democratic system. I then asked my students the pros and cons of the voting procedure in both pictures. While one fails to generate excitement, it did help to provide a fair and uncorrupted result.

Upon completion of the compare and contrast exercise, I then proposed a statistic to my students that only 40% of all eligible voters between the ages of 18-24 actually vote. Immediately afterwards, my students began to brainstorm how to bring interest and excitement back into Election Day. To key was to attract more voters to the polls, not to have a party. With that in mind, students engaged in an open discussion about how to achieve this elusive goal of increasing voter participation.