I had an amazing time at the Teaching American History Directors' Conference in Washington D.C. that took place from August 8-11, 2011. In addition to the fabulous classes I was able to attend, I had the opportunity to take a few "field trips" to visit various museums while in the area and was truly inspired by the incredible displays and exhibits.
In order to process what I learn, it helps for me to reflect on the key points, and then jot down a brief summary. The following are summaries of a few of the classes I attended while at the conference:
African American Struggle for Equality, Modeling an Inquiry Based Approach to Common Core
As participants, we had the opportunity to listen to an audio recording of an interview with Fountain Hughes.
When doing this activity with students, guide the discussion as follows:
The Busy Project Directors Toolkit: Teachinghistory.org
This website is a great "go-to" resource for any educator who is interested in accessing content and pedagogy resources, not just project directors! During the workshop, the presenters highlighted these aspects of the website:
Using Web 2.0 Technology
Web 2.0 technology allows us to gain access to experts throughout the world and to collaborate with one another in our research. The following are a few examples:
Increase Content Knowledge-History Scholars & Online Seminars http://americainclass.org/seminars/
Collaboration and Interactive Book Studies-Edmodo
Virtual Bookshelf http://www.gurulib.com/
Research/Resources-Interactive Map, pin stories, pictures on map-History Pin
The Barber of Birmingham, Professional Development that Transfers into Classroom Practice
The purpose of this class was to demonstrate how documentaries can be utilized in the classroom as "well told stories" of important historical events. Just as in any story, a documentary includes the following components:
- Exposition (context,, and background information)
- Crisis (trigger, catalyst, cause of change in course)
- Conflict (challenges, obstacles)
- Climax (turning point)
- Resolution (outcome)
Best Practices for Special Education and ESL/ELL US History Instruction
The presenters modeled a classroom simulation, and we as participants took on the role as students. We worked in cooperative groups to sequence events on a sentence strip. Once the groups agreed on the sequence, they would be provided documents to read together in order to win a "date" card that would help confirm whether or not the sequence of events on the sentence strip was correct. Additional resources/activities can be found on the American Social History Project website.
Thinking Like a Historian: Using Primary Sources to Explore Point of View
Danna Bell Russel and Cheryl Lederele from the Library of Congress provided the participants with hands-on experience in examining and analyzing primary source documents related to Abraham Lincoln's assassination. They modeled how to ask questions with our students when asking them to analyze primary source documents. Initially questions such as "What do you see? What do your reflect on? and What else do you want to know?' can serve as openers for the discussion. To continue the discussion, questions such as "Who was the author or creator? When was it created? Why was it created? and What else was happening when it was created? can be posed. It is also important to expose them to multiple sources so that they can compare/contrast the different perspectives of the event. Additional resources are available through the Library of Congress.
Learning to Think Like a History Teacher
Bob Bain, University of Michigan, encouraged us to be students of history teaching and learning and to systematically study our own teaching and to treat the classroom as a historical event and to use the records and artifacts of teaching and student learning as part of that process. There are challenges to teaching history because there is so much content to be covered, and the textbooks are often fragmented. Our goal is to help improve student think more like historians by focusing on higher order thinking. How do philosophers of history decide what is important? Frame problems to drive the investigation and to determine what is important, select and use evidence from sources, study the events, think inside the event as well as examine other events that help frame the context. One practical strategy to begin this thinking process is to ask them to determine what ten things they think would be important to include in a time capsule, then explain the difference between the top three and bottom three. Take these reasons to generate discussion about how historians determine what events are significant.
I highly recommend visiting the following museums when in D.C!
Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery, American Origins