Showing posts from March, 2011

Caring for Our Veterans: Lessons from WWII and Today

I recently read Double Victory: A Multicultural History of American in World War II by Ronald Takaki .  There were many parts of Takaki's book that are striking, but the one part I kept coming back to as I remembered reading through it was the story of Ira Hayes, The Indian "Hero" of Iwo Jima starting on pg 72. I had heard the story before many times, but every time I read or hear a new account, I am touched by how this smart young Native American went into war enthusiastically seeking to prove the value of both his Pima people and his pride in America as a nation.  His reasons for going to war were noble and perhaps naive, but the reward he got for his service is a dark mark on American history, too often glossed over in history classrooms. Before teaching high school, I taught 8th graders for 6 years. Four out of those 6 years I took large groups of adolescents to Washington D.C. to experience some of their own history first hand. One of the sights we visit, of cou

Are You Wearing Green Today?

Did you know that the story about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is a metaphor?  "A metaphor for what?" you ask. Why do we associate 3 leaf clovers with this day? There are many traditions associated with today.  Some, like going to church to observe the holy day, are healthy for body and soul.  Some, like downing a pint or two of Guiness, are not.  Where did all of these traditions come from?  Watch the quick video below to find out! OK, so now you know the history.  But why am I wearing green to celebrate the day?   Turns out, I should probably be wearing blue ! Yup, here's another quick video explanation. So, on this lovely Saint Patrick's Day, I leave you with an Irish blessing and wish you well. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Lincoln's Assassination: A Nation's Emotional Response

My sophomore students are wrapping up their unit on the American Civil War.  There is a lot of information for them to take in; massive casualty numbers, battles, generals, politicians, primary source readings like the Peninsula Campaign Letter and the Emancipation Proclamation , the lives of slaves during the war... The final lesson of the Civil War is always the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  This year I was searching for a new way for my students to study the information.  After a little searching, I found an amazing website: The Abraham Lincoln Papers from the Library of Congress.  One of their special collections is called The Lincoln Assassination .  There I found broadsides, illustrations, and other publications that convey the public sentiment surrounding the shocking events of April 15, 1865. So.... here is my plan for Monday! The Set Up First, I will ask the students to read this short summary of the events surrounding the assassination.  Then, to make

Teaching Historical Context With Primary Sources & Podcasting

The Philosophy Behind the Lesson Now that the second half of the school year is well-underway, I am becoming more and more cognizant of the fact that I need to teach my freshman students certain skills to prepare them for the larger-scale research projects that await them in their sophomore classes next year. One of those skills is historical context . Professor Claude BĂ©langer at  Marianopolis College describes historical context as: The context is understood as the events, or the climate of opinion, that surround the issue at hand. They help to understand its urgency, its importance, its shape. What was happening at the time of the event or the decision that sheds some light on it? In what type of society did the event occur? An urban one? A rich one? An educated one? The Lesson I wanted to come up with a fun way to teach my freshmen this concept.  So, I opened the class with an explanation of historical context.  We happen to be studying American colonial society prior to