Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reflections on Summer Institute

Now that a couple of weeks have passed from this year’s summer institute, I finally have some time to reflect upon the course and sift through materials to see what will be useful my courses.  Most of my colleagues have mentioned in their blogs things I found particularly useful. Thus, I want to share some methods that can be used to help students analyze primary sources.  These methods were adopted by the Social Studies Department at Wilmington High School.  Most of our department uses these techniques as described below, and others alter them to suit their individual needs.  I hope you can make use of them as well.

I plan to use APPARTS to analyze the letters we looked at during our field trip to the Massachusetts Historical Society.  I plan to use the letters exchanged between Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • AP PARTS-When analyzing a primary source document
o       Author:  who created the source, what do you know about him/her, Point of view is key … position in life, background
o       Place & time:  when was this written?  Where?
o       Prior knowledge:  what else do you know about this?
o       Audience:  who is this intended for?  Clerics? Crown? Merchants? Workers?
o       Reason:  why was it created?
o       The main idea:  what point is this source trying to convey?
o       Significance:  why is it important?  So what?  Inferring importance from data.

I plan to use OPTIC to analyze the Pears’ Soap “The White Man’s Burden” advertisement from Ron Woolley’s workshop.
  • OPTIC – When analyzing a visual
  • Overview – look it over for all of its aspects
  • Parts – what are the pieces that make up this picture, photo
  • Title – does the title reveal anything
  • Interrelationships – how do the items/people/subjects of the visual interrelate?
  • Conclusion – what can you draw from this visual?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Olympics as a Historical Tool

Most Americans are tuned to their televisions watching American's take on the world in London. The 2012 Summer Olympiad is an exciting tool that can be used to engage students in the relationship that the US has with the world.

As an opening I would discuss major happenings from the current Olympics. Examples of big medal victories, any acts of un-sportsmanship/ sportsmanship, and international politics. You could mention how First Lady Michelle Obama was America's representative to the games:

I would then open up a discussion on other famous Olympiads and America's connection to them. I would primarily focus on the 1936 German summer games. With the 1936 games I would make sure to draw the student's attention to the actions of Adolf Hitler and his dreams for an attempt to show Berlin off to the world.

In an almost "slap in the face" of Nazi Germany students would then learn about the great accomplishments of Jesse Owens, someone who the Nazis refused to treat as a desired human being.

Using current events is a great way to draw students into history. By connecting such a popular event like the Olympics to America's previous role in the world students will be able to understand the that America's connection to the world is not something new or something that will end any time soon.