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 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!!!

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