Thursday, July 19, 2012

As this years summer institute concludes I will continue to tell educators that this program is one of the best if not the best for of continuing educations. Over the years we have been provided with the opportunity to listen to some of the best professors lecturing in their field of expertise and sharing how they present the material to their college classes. We have also had the opportunity to listen to fellow teachers who have created amazing lesson plans and are willing to share them with us in order for us to improve on our teaching. Over the years I have taken a great number of graduate courses, this History Connected program ranks up there with the best of those course. Not only has it provided me with in-depth information in my content area, but it has also provided me with the tools (lessons) to carry it out. Using this past summer institute as an example, I was very impressed Ron Woolley’s session on “Selling Empire: Pears Soap and Roosevelt Corollary”. Ron showed us how he implements the Pear Soap advertisement to analyze foreign policy and the Roosevelt Corollary. Not only is this something that I plan to use in my classroom when I cover this time period in history, but it also provided me with the tool/activity that I can implement with other advertisement that were presented in history. One historian that really stood out to me during this summer institute was Cathal Nolan. What I took from his lecture was not only the content that he provided for us, but what I thought was just as important was his opposing viewpoint when compared to other lecturers throughout the week. As teachers of history we have a great responsibility to present both sides of the argument on every historical issue that we cover. We also need to hide our personal bias as we cover this material. Having both sides of an issue presented to us as teachers, is just as important so we can provide our students with a balanced argument. These are just two examples of many that I could provide for the excellent program that we have been fortunate enough to be a part of. I hope that we can continue to meet and share in some capacity in the future.
The field trip experience that we took on Thursday July 12th is one which I plan to share with my colleagues when we return to school this September. Beginning with the Massachusetts Historical Society in the morning and ending with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We are so fortunate to have the Massachusetts Historical Society to use for our research and teaching experiences. Over the years I have used their website, but unfortunately after visiting them on Thursday I realized that I have not utilized them to the fullest degree. I was amazed by the amount of information, resources and organization that they have there for us to use. When I return to school this year I plan to share with my department members what I experienced there with hopes of them using them more to enhance their classroom materials. I also plan to utilize the Mass. Historical Society as I continue to put together what will eventually be a local history course elective at our high school. Later that afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which I had never been to before. This museum was one of the most unique museums that I have ever been to before. Not only does this museum represent a global perspective or economy, but it also presents a great deal of history leading up to the most recent heist, which I know would immediately grab my student’s attention. The history behind this museum is very fascinating from it origin to its legacy and how it has been taken care of over the years. I look forward to sharing this information with my department members as well as with my students in the coming years. I would like to incorporate a field trip back to this museum at some point with my students as well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Institute

Summer Institute

History lovers often love learning about wars and monarchs, dates, etc. However we all know that some if not many of our students find it difficult to stay engaged with information like that. Imagine teaching heavy hitting, important information and concepts using these vehicles: rap and popular song, architecture, Coca-Cola, sports, soap, bananas, sewing machines, Disney, The World’s Fair programs, and others! Now these are things our students know something about or can relate to more easily.  The premise of the Summer Institute ‘U.S. and The World: Expressions of Power Past and Present’ is to look at relationships between the U.S. and other countries from political, social, and commercial perspectives.  The products and companies used to deliver the information serve as a hook to help students remember and apply in a real way the impact of the American 'Empire'.  The participants in this institute are abuzz with excitement at how interesting and usable the materials are. The field trip to The Massachusetts Historical Society and the Gardner Museum were usable and enjoyable! Art, artifacts and documents give our students hands on means of learning. 
As I looked through the frameworks, I believe the following have been very well covered by the Institute:
USII.6 Analyze the causes and course of America’s growing role in world affairs from the Civil War to World War I.
USG.4.2 Analyze reasons for conflict among nation states, such as competition for resources and territory, differences in system of government, and religious or ethnic conflicts.
USG.4.4 Describe the tools used to carry out United States foreign policy.
Examples: Diplomacy, economic aid, military aid, humanitarian aid, treaties, sanctions and military intervention.
USG.4.5 Examine the different forces that influence U.S. foreign policy, including business and labor organizations, interest groups, public opinion, and ethnic and religious organizations.
USG.4.8 Use a variety of sources, including newspapers, magazines, and the internet to identify significant world political, demographic, and environmental developments. Analyze ways that these developments may affect United States foreign policy in specific regions of the world.
USG.4.9 Evaluate, take, and defend a position about whether or not the United States should promote the spread of democracy throughout the world, or in certain parts of the world, or not at all.
As I wrote early in the blog – these are meaty concepts – giving the students a lot to think about. Now we have many tools to uses to ensure such thinking!  Many of the strategies were open-ended- getting the students to comment and think based on analysis of a document before the ‘academic’ presentation- talk about prior knowledge! These activities make the students realize they do already have some knowledge and abilities to digest these deep issues.
Example:  Who would ever think that a soap ad could get students thinking about American (white man’s) expansion?  The many symbols and images in this ad were shown by Ron Woolley of Hingham High School to get students engaged in a meaningful conversation.

How about this image to get students talking about the US in Latin America as Lina Yamashita had us do?

Caroline Berz led us in to an insightful discussion of the Spanish American War and American sentiment by using images like the following from the 1904 World’s Fair.

Powerful and creative teaching and learning is the result of such high quality professional development.  Kudos to Kara, Ann Marie and colleagues for bringing in  such high quality presentations and lessons!  I believe I can speak for all when I say thank-you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Massachusetts Historical Society Trip

This afternoon the summer group travelled to the Massachusetts Historical Society for an excellent seminar on foreign relations.  I had only ever used this organization for their John Adams papers and was a bit surprised at how much the library had on the Spanish American War and the Philippine American War.  Among other very useful ready to use curriculum, there is one in particular that connects to our theme. Jason Raia, a teacher from Pope John XXII High School in Everett, MA created a lesson plan with the sources at the Historical Society called  Adams Family Foreign Policy: Letters and Diaries from Europe.  This lesson plan is perfect for a US I teacher who is seeking to introduce a greater world perspective.  The European perspective in the Revolutionary Era can be oversimplified to a few military leaders, the Prussian influence, and the British military.  This lesson plan uses the resources of society to offer a mush fuller context.

As  a side note, while exploring the site tonight I came across this page that lists the teacher seminars that the MHS offers:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TAH Summer Institute - Day 1

This past Monday marked the beginning of the TAH summer institute.  With excellent speakers and teacher presentations, it was a fantastic start to what will certainly be a great week!  One of the presentations was particularly compelling.  Professor Jeffery Melnick gave a fascinating presentation on America's Soft Power throughout the world during the 20th century.  This presentation was interesting to an audience of history teachers, but the question remains:  Is there a place in the HS classroom for an in-depth discussion of this topic?  Put another way, is there room for Jamerican Hip Hop in the U.S. History classroom?  After further reflection on Melnick's presentation, I believe the answer is yes.

There is no question that today's history teachers face a real challenge in covering a great amount of content in a short amount of time.  We've all been there.  But within the great breadth of content, we all must be selective about which topics we offer depth to.  I maintain that, given the state of global affairs, the developments of America's Soft Power in the world is a critical topic for today's high school students to understand and discuss.

Professor Melnick offered several ways to teach globalization, glocalization, and the incredibly strong influence that America has over the rest of the world.  One that I really wanted to know more about was his quick reference to the life of a t-shirt.  Fortunately for us, the beginning of the book he was referencing, The Travels of a Tee-Shirt in a Global Economy, is available at google books.  This is a great source that I am confident my students are going to dive into this coming year!  Additionally, Melnicks ideas about researching the globalization of food, sports, tourism, and music (I have a lot of research to do on the Jamaican influences on Hip Hop during the 1970s!) are perfect for discussing this important topic with students.  I know that this is going to be a thought provoking and successful unit with my juniors this year!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello and Good-bye

As the final course of TAH History Connected approaches I find some conflicting emotions.  I look back and find that my time with History Connected has deepened my understandings not only of US history, but of my students and my teaching as well.    When I discovered that some of the participants had already spent three years in a previous TAH program I wondered how someone could commit to such a six-year commitment.  But now I find that as my own year three comes to an end, I wish there were more.  Yet I am happy to complete the full scope of History Connected.  The upcoming course ‘The U.S. and the World’ has already got me thinking- and it hasn’t even started yet.  The orientation proved to be both engaging and challenging.  Ann-Marie asked us to post entries based on our current understandings of the importance of events in U.S. history. At first I wasn’t sure I could complete the assignments.  However, I found that I had enough background to actually complete the assignments.  Years ago during the Falkland Islands War, my father, whose parents were British citizens, had a lot to say about the relationship between the US and the UK.  The conversations I had with him at that time came back to my mind and formed the basis for my glossary entry.  That assignment not only helped prepare me for the course- but also helped me remember the things that were important to my Dad.  The idea of “Soft Power” was also interesting to me.  There are some nations that may believe we exert soft power, but I’m pretty sure there are others who think that whenever we exert any power at all it is definitely not soft- given the strength of the US.  I am intrigued to dig deeper into this concept.
On another personal note- wow- Luce’s article made me realize how much Life Magazine really did shape my ide of what American life can and should be like.  When I was a girl, that journal came to my house each week- and I looked through each and every issue- taking its content for granted.  Couldn’t and shouldn’t my life be just like that?  This really gave me food for thought- and I am an American.  What would foreigners assume?  Again, it’s a lot to look forward to as we get into our coursework.  I hope others will agree with me as I say The U.S. and The World looks like it will be the grand finale to the fireworks of History Connected! 

Approaching US & the World in the Classroom

Next week the Summer institute participants of History Connected will gather in Reading to continue our look at US & the World. We will look at different examples of US interaction with world powers and implications of this interaction.

As I plan for next year I like to think about new ways of integrating History Connected into my classroom. Although my district does not have a curriculum where  US and World history is integrated we do have flexibility to alter the existing curriculum to fit our current interests. One activity presented in the Summer institute orientation allows for students to study and "do" US history while thinking about world history. allows to students to build and create their own timelines based on themes, movements or even places. Within the Summer institute we created a timeline that focuses on US action's that had a direct impact on a world event. By allowing students to research their own events and build their own timelines, students are not only studying history but are also "doing" history and becoming active participants in their learning.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

As this school year concluded the Wilmington High School’s September 11th Memorial Committee met for the last time until next school year. This group was inspired by last year’s History Connected Seminar which examined historical memorials. Since then, we have been able to organize a group of students who have volunteered their time and effort to help educate, raise awareness, fundraise and design a 9/11 Memorial for new up and coming high school. Meeting once a week our committee kicked off the year with its first fundraising effort which was a memorial t-shirt which was designed by one of our members. Both Tracey Kassin and I have provided our students with information that we have gained from History Connected in regards to memorial designs and interpretations. As we move forward with this process, our students have been given the opportunity to meet with the architects for our new high school and express their ideas for the memorial. In between meetings with the architects, we were fortunate enough to take a field trip to New York City to Ground Zero with our committee to view it first hand. Not only did this trip allow our students to see the location of the horrific event, but it also gave them inspiration on how to design a memorial of their own. A few weeks later our students met with the architects again and proposed memorial ideas which they themselves had created. After lengthy discussion, the committee as a whole agreed upon two designs for our memorial. The architects spoke with the students and explained how they were planning on trying to create one memorial by combining the two that were chosen by the committee. Unfortunately the building of our high school has been placed on hold, and as a result we have not heard back from the architects. This setback has not slowed down our committee of students. During the last week of school, our students held their last meeting of the school year. At this meeting, we had a guest speaker come to speak with our students about creating memorials. The speaker was a local man who worked on the Town of Wilmington’s War Memorial on the town common which commemorates veterans from World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and the Korean War. H explained to the students about the process involved in creating a memorial and also volunteered his help with the process. Our committee also worked on some new fundraising ideas for next year, as the need for more funds is still very important. Our committee was inspired by the History Connected program and we wanted to keep all of those interested up to date with our progress.