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Showing posts from February, 2011

Colonial America... In Plain English!

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Inspired by both Greg Kulowiec's presentation at the MassCUE Conference in October, 2010, and Common Craft, I assigned a low-tech/high-tech project to my honors freshmen students as they learned about everyday life in the American colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.

The essence of Common Craft videos on YouTube is to "help educators and influencers introduce complex subjects."  Lee Lefever and the people at Common Craft are geniuses in the art of simplification in their "In Plain English" videos.  They take processes and concepts, like the electoral college, that seem complicated at first and break them down so almost anyone could understand them within short 3 minute episodes.  They use simple paper drawings and cut outs and move them around with their fingers on screen while narrating and explaining what the audience is seeing.  So, I asked my students to do the same thing to explain the everyday lives of people living in colonial America in the 17th and…

An American Empire

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Until the 1890s, America prided itself for its isolation from world affairs. Territorial ambitions and visions of empire were limited to westward expansion across the American continent. But in the 1890s, as the nation emerged as the world’s leading economic power, America took an increasingly aggressive role in international affairs. By 1910 America had become an imperial power, controlling territories around the globe such as the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Cuba, not to mention the Panama Canal. While many Americans welcomed these events as confirmation of the nation’s status as a world power, others were troubled by the seeming incompatibility of imperial conquest and republican government. (See soucres list below for the source of this summary.)
The two competing perspectives regarding American expansionism and subsequent imperialism are best analyzed using primary sources.I have used political cartoons in the past to get these perspectives across.
This one shows the…