Sunday, February 28, 2016

World War II: My teachers' toolkit of the best online resources (Part One)

I'm concentrating on two topics with my students during my unit on World War Two: how technology impacted the war, and how the war impacted four social groups.  This post will concentrate on the technology; I'll write about the social groups later.

As a general introduction, though, I'm first having my students watch a selection from the extraordinarily valuable series of 13 short videos called Teachable Moments that was produced by the FDR Library.   Each student watches four videos on her/his smartphone.  The student takes notes on a blank sheet of paper divided with a large diamond in the center.  The diamond itself is divided into four triangles.  Each sheet will look something like this (sorry about the graphic!).
Notes for each of the four assigned videos will go in a different triangle.  Then the students look for students who watched other videos and share what they learned.  (No copying!  Just listening and note taking.)

For the technology component, we're going to discuss the atomic bomb and the Enigma machine.  In this video (1:24) from the Newseum, Paul Tibbets, the Enola Gay pilot, describes his mission.  The bomb's devastation is also shown.
 In this video (1:21) President Truman announces the bombing and explains its power.
This video (2:32) explains the Enigma machine and how British codebreakers led by Alan Turing broke it.  
This video (2:26) shows how an Enigma machine worked.
For the atomic bomb, my favorite online print resources are from the Truman Library (link is to primary sources), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (link is to an analysis with alternatives), and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (click on Search by Topic).

For the Enigma machine, my favorite online print resources are from Bletchley Park (home to the British codebreakers), the BBC, and the Imperial War Museums.

My First Storify Assignment

I just completed my first Storify assignment.
Storify creates online presentations.  It's great because it is free, easy to use, and the presentations you make look terrific.  To make your Storify you simply
  • Write your headline (the topic of your presentation)
  • Write a description of your headline
  • Add content.  The content can be from anything you can find on the web, so you can include material from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Once you assemble your content, you can introduce, explain, and describe the content in text boxes.

The assignment that I wrote for my students concerns the social impact of World War II on four social groups (Japanese-Americans, African-Americans, Native-Americans, and Women).  You can read my assignment here.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rosa Parks: A new terrific (and timely!) resource

Rosa Parks's arrest on 1 December 1955 in Montgomery, AL, for refusing to move to the back of a city transit bus was a seminal event in the Civil Rights Revolution.  Of course we devote time to her story in our classes.

Good news: The Library of Congress announced today that it has fully digitized its collection of the Rosa Parks Papers.  In addition to thousands of images and written works, the collection contains a useful timeline of Mrs. Parks's life.

Better news: The Library had complemented the new digitized collection with a primary source gallery for teachers.  The teachers' gallery includes pdf versions of 15 primary sources.  My favorite item was Mrs. Parks's four-page handwritten recollection of her bus arrest.  She starts by answering the obvious question directly--Why did she choose that night to defy segregation?  Her answer was poignant, heartfelt, and direct: "I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment I couldn't take it anymore."

Also powerful is her handwritten description of segregation in Montgomery.  This is actually the document I would use with my students first.  Assign it to them to read, and then ask them to list the ways in which one southern town practiced segregation during the Jim Crow era.

Best news: This resource is available now, as we start planning to study the origins of the Civil Rights Movement with our students.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How fast is fast?

Fast is a relative term.  In our U.S. History classes, one theme we trace is the development of new transportation technologies, from the National Road (then through the Erie Canal, Transcontinental Railroad, urban subways, cars, and airplanes) to space ships.

I just read about a great source to show our students to help illustrate this theme.  It poses a simple question (How far could you go on one day of travel from New York City?) and illustrates the answer in a map.

In 1800, a traveller would be hard pressed to get much farther south than Philadelphia or much past New Haven to the north in a day.  Antebellum New Yorkers near the eve of the Civil War could get to Maine or Cleveland.  Air travel helped the travel savvy New Yorker get past the Rockies by Black Tuesday and to the Pacific Ocean just a few years later.

Classroom connection: It would be fun to show your students this map, and ask them to research examples of primary sources describing what early transportation was like for these stagecoach, rail, and air pioneers.  Other students could look for advertisements offering travel on these new carriers.  A third group could investigate the impact these new transportation technologies had on different social and economic groups.


I learned about this map in a terrific post today (while following the New York Public Library's Division of U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy) by Dana Schulz (@danaschulzNYC) in the 6sqft blog.  Dana's post was based on a post in Quartz by David Yanofsky (@YAN0) (NB: That last character is the number zero).  Thanks to both Dana and David!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

BrainRush is back online!

It's okay, we can exhale.  BrainRush, the adaptive learning site, is back online.  

I've blogged about BrainRush previously, and why it's my favorite online study and review platform.   BrainRush lets you create four different types of activities: matching (like for vocabulary flash cards), buckets (for sorting), chronologies (for sequencing), or hot spots (for labeling a diagram or map).  BrainRush practices with the students until they achieve mastery.

There are two things that make BrainRush so special.  First, questions get progressively more challenging, so it really does help students demonstrate mastery.  Second, the BrainRush questions adapt to each individual student's level of knowledge.  If a student answers incorrectly, then the student is given additional guided practice for that fact.

BrainRush activities are easy to create.  And now that it's back online, I'll be creating more activities for my students right away.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Teacher's Toolkit for Great Depression and the New Deal

I just finished blogging about the best videos (the Teachable Moments series from the FDR Presidential Library) to use when teaching the Great Depression and the New Deal.  Here are the other resources I will be using to work with my students this week.
"Radical Responses to the Great Depression," a website from the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library, is a great introduction to the social aspects of the era.  It has artifacts and commentary exploring topics like criticism from the radical left and conservative right, labor strikes and violence, the case of the Scottsboro Boys, and the social cost of unemployment and hunger.
The Supreme Court Historical Society has produced an excellent series of 10 short videos on FDR and the Court-Packing Controversy.  The videos provide concise commentary on the context (the New Deal and judicial opposition to FDR's programs), the Court-Packing proposal, reaction and debate on the proposal, and its eventual withdrawal.
This feature from the Library of Congress includes commentary and artifacts describing the impact the Great Depression and New Deal had on African Americans.
Finally, this 2008 story ("A Depression-Era Anthem For Our Times") from NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday looks at the song "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" to consider why it has been considered the anthem of the Great Depression.
Bread line in New York City, 1929

The best videos on the Great Depression

The FDR Presidential Library has a set of 14 short videos (shortest: 2:19; longest: 3:29) discussing different aspects of the Great Depression.  The playlist is called Teachable Moments: The New Deal, and it is the best single video resource to use with your students.  Here is the introductory video:

And here is a list of the other 13 titles in this series:
  1. What caused the Great Depression?
  2. The Promise of Change
  3. Worsening Crisis
  4. Emergency Legislation: The Bank Holiday
  5. The First 100 Days
  6. Reaching the People
  7. Social Security
  8. Jobs and Relief
  9. Labor Reforms
  10. Financial Reforms
  11. Rural Reforms
  12. The Dust Bowl
  13. New Deal Setbacks
Classroom Connections: I'm going to assign my students to watch and take notes on one video on their personal devices.  They will then prepare an infographic with explanatory commentary describing their topic.  We will put the infographics around the classroom and students will participate in a gallery walk.  As students walk through the classroom and discuss their topic, they will tweet what they learned to a common hashtag.

A powerful primary source from a former slave

Just four months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox,  and during the time between Congressional passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment, a Tennessee Confederate general wrote to Jourdan, his emancipated slave now living in Ohio, and asked him to return back to his old slave master's farm.  Jourdan's response is the most powerful primary source describing the horrors of slavery that I have every read.  Using it with your students will be a powerful tool to help understand them the harsh realities of slavery in the era before the Civil War.

The letter is addressed "To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson."  It is such an effective document because it shows clearly how wary Jourdan is about Col. Anderson, and the reasons for it.  Anderson had shot Jourdan twice, and had abused his daughters.  As Jourdan explains, "I would rather stay here and starve -- and die, if it come to that -- than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters."

Despite this appalling history, Jourdan is still open to returning, if Col. Anderson would agree to pay Jourdan and his wife the wages for their years of labor and if schools open to black children were available in Tennessee.

Ask your students to read this letter and look for examples of how slaves were treated in the south during the antebellum era.  Then lead them in a discussion of how the relationship between master and former slave changed after the Civil War.  Have them speculate: If you were Col. Anderson, how would you respond to Jourdon's letter?  This is an excellent resource that would yield important insights about slavery and a lively classroom conversation.

My thanks to my teaching colleague George Coe for sending me this link. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My first FlipQuiz

I just built my first FlipQuiz!  I like it a lot and am eager to share it with my students on Monday.

FlipQuiz is a review game that presents questions in a Jeopardy format.
There are certainly other similar products for review games, but I liked FlipQuiz's easy-to-use question templates, the way it accepts pictures, and the extremely large font-size when questions and answers are displayed.  While I don't go in for games that much, I recognize their value to review and as a formative assessment tool.

My first FlipQuiz is on the 1920s.  I presented that lesson last week (using @nearpod, which I still absolutely love).  How much do my students remember?  I'll find out on Monday, which gives me a chance to remediate, and my students to self-assess what they need to do to prepare for their quiz on that decade later next week.

You can take a look at my first FlipQuiz by clicking here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Terrific blog post on Jim Crow photographs from the Library of Congress

Please check this terrific blog post by Jeff Bridgers from the Library of Congress describing the Jim Crow era and highlighting the Library's unparalleled collection in this area.

Titled, "Signs of Their Times: 'Jim Crow' Was Here," the short post features a concise definition of Jim Crow laws and the two Supreme Court cases that framed that era (Plessy v. Ferguson [1896] and Brown v. Board of Education [1954]), then shows four representative photographs documenting how "various facilities (were) for the exclusive use of one race."
”Man drinking at a water cooler in the street car terminal.” [Sign: “Reserved for Colored.”]
Photograph by Russell Lee, July 1939,
The blog concludes with a great list of links for further study.

Classroom Connection: Assign this blog post to your students as background reading.  Then direct them to the further study links and ask them to create a presentation answering this question: "How deeply rooted was racial segregation during the Jim Crow era?"  This will guide them to find examples of separate facilities in a host of activities.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

BrainRush: Network connectivity problems?

The BrainRush website hasn't been functioning for over 24 hours.  It's been a very frustrating 24 hours!  Instead of opening to this...

a user sees this:

No news on the @gobrainrush Twitter feed.  So the activities I created for my students using their terrific site are, for now, suspended.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The 1920s: Two terrific primary source sets

I've just found two terrific primary source sets to use with my students while studying the 1920s.

The first set is part of the America in Class series from the National Humanities Center and is titled "Becoming Modern: America in the 1920s."
One section of that series is titled "Divisions," and it has well-curated sets of primary sources addressing these groups/conflicts:
  1. KKK
  2. Black and White
  3. City and Town
  4. Wets and Drys
  5. Religion and Science
  6. Labor and Capital
  7. Native and Foreign
  8. "Reds" and "Americans"
Each of the sets include pdf reprints of newspaper commentary, cartoons, and speeches.  What I like best about these reprints is that the cartoons are published on full sheets of paper, making considering all the detail that much easier.  This 1923 cartoon (caption: One Must Be Extinguished) shows the Statue of Liberty with two outstretched arms.  One arm is labeled "Liberty" and holds the torch of Democracy.  The other arm, labeled KKK, holds the fiery cross of racial hatred.
The sources also have excellent introductions that guide your students as they consider how to decode the documents.

The second set was produced as a joint project spearheaded by the California History-Social Science Project of the University of California, Irvine.  
This set, titled, "Red Scare! The Palmer Raids and Civil Liberties," begins with a short Teacher's Guide and Historical Background, a glossary, timeline, and then includes political cartoons and primary and secondary sources.  Each source is followed by a well-written series of questions to guide students to discover the main idea and pertinent details.  What I like best about this set is that it is a well-developed and comprehensive integrated unit unto itself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A premium, fee-based version of Socrative? (But don't worry)

Socrative is a great tool, and it's making plans right now to get better.
With Socrative you can write quiz questions, quick questions (T/F or short answer), and really cool review games for your students.  I use it a lot and my students love it (especially the Space Race game).
Now they're thinking of offering new services, such as expanding the maximum classroom size from 50 to 150 students, exporting results to gradebooks, and delivering multiple activities to multiple rooms simultaneously (that one sounds like it would be great for synchronous classroom vs. classroom competitions).

I just received an email from Socrative today asking if I would be willing to pay $29.99/year for these new planned premium services.  Not to worry: They reassure users that Socrative's existing core features will remain free.

Hamilton: The Musical

We can't get tickets to see this Broadway blockbuster (it's sold out until forever), but here's the opening number (3:14) from last night's Grammy broadcast:
Chills, right?

My Harlem Renaissance project

We study the Harlem Renaissance as part of our unit on the 1920s.  It's a great opportunity to introduce our students to how poetry can be an important cultural artifact, and explore how culture can reveal aspects of the African-American experience during that decade.
My project involves students reading four poems of that era.  Everyone reads the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred" because I'm biased: It's the single most powerful poem I ever read.  It literally stopped me in my tracks when I first read it!  That poem, and all the other poems, are in a handout of Harlem Renaissance poetry I compiled for them.  After reading their poems, students have to complete four tasks and display them on a poster board.

Click here to see my Harlem Renaissance project.  The files (handout and readings) are at the bottom of the page.

My old-time radio project

Commercial radio broadcasts were a feature of mass entertainment in the 1920s, so I'm going to assign my students a project to help them learn about that new cultural medium.

The workflow is easy.  These two websites have curated collections of old-time radio shows.
  1. Gunsmoke (a western) 
  2. Old Radio World: A huge collection of comedies, dramas, mysteries, science fiction, etc.)
Gunsmoke sound-effects artist Ray Kemper and star William Conrad ("Matt Dillon")
I'll assign student teams of two to select one show and listen to it.  While listening, they will take notes on music, sound effects, different roles (announcer, actors), pacing (how long each scene lasts), and whether there is an audience.

Then, the student teams will produce a radio show of their own.  That will involve writing it, arranging for any music and sound effects, recruiting classmates to perform roles, and getting other classmates to laugh, cheer, or boo (as appropriate) as audience members.  They will then perform and record their radio show using their devices, mail the audio file of their show to me, and I will share those files with the class.

MHS Madness

John Winthrop's journal?  The first map of New England?  They're all in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

As part of its celebration of their 225th anniversary (225 years!), the society is hosting a MHS Madness Competition.  They want to know: What's your favorite artifact in their collection?  In the spirit of March Madness, they are pitting 64 of their favorite items into a head-to-head single elimination tournament.  
It's fun!  Take a look here, share the link with your students, and follow as a winner is announced on 14 March.

The 1920s: Movies 1.0

Victory in World War I had a profound impact on American life.  One example of that was the development of a mass culture in the 1920s: As new forms of culture launched, they spread across America.

Movies were one type of mass entertainment that flourished during that decade, so you're certainly going to be teaching a lesson on the first movies during your 1920s unit.  You can call this lesson "Movies 1.0."
I selected the videos using a strict filter: all of the videos had to be short.  To do that, I use the filter on YouTube to limit my search to videos under four minutes.  Anything longer and students' attention can wander.  And the goal here is to survey the movies, not watch them in their entirety in class!

Classroom connection: I  am going to divide the class into five groups, and assign each group to watch one video.  Then they will work on these activities in class.
  1. Google Doc activity: I will create a Google Doc with headings for each of the videos.  The students will take notes on their video on the Google Doc to share with their classmates.  They will take note of the medium (cartoon, silent movie, talkie, radio) and message (what is going on).
  2. Storyboard activity: The students will take five sheets of blank paper and make a storyboard of their video.
  3. Film activity: Using their devices, my students will make a short (30-second) video in the style of their video.  They will upload their video to YouTube to share with their classmates.
Here are the videos!
  • Al Jolson, Toot Toot, Tootsie
  • Mickey Mouse, Steamboat Willie
  • Marx Brothers Mirror Scene (the best!)
  • Charlie Chaplin, The Lion's Cage

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Valentine's Day, so time to remember...the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre (1929)

The timing couldn't have been more fortuitous.  Today, 14 February, celebrated by many as Valentine's Day, is the anniversary of the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.  And we'll be studying it (the massacre, not the love celebration) this week, in our unit on the 1920s.

This terrific short video (2:45) describes how gangland competition in Chicago led to the deaths of 7 of Al Capone's rivals.
Of course, this was the era of Prohibition.  Here's a good video (2:45) that gives context to the era of "the noble experiment" when the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal in America.
To supplement and extend this activity with your students, use this fine primary source activity from the U.S. National Archives.  The materials include a useful introduction for teachers, the document themselves (including the Volstead Act that made violating the 18th Amendment a crime, and a hand-drawn picture of a still), and some creative ideas on how you can use these materials with your students.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dred Scott: The best short video

An article by the American Bar Association's Journal concluded that the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision (along with the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision) was the worst decision ever by the Supreme Court.

What happened in Dred Scott, and why the decision made the Civil War inevitable, is explained in this exceptional short (6:09) video from the Minnesota Historical Society.
The video is superbly produced and offers expert commentary by legal historian Lea VanderVelde of the University of Iowa and Richard J. Josey, Jr., of the Minnesota Historical Society.  It summarizes Dred Scott's early life (born into slavery in Virginia; purchased in a Missouri slave auction; brought to Minnesota); the lawsuit he filed seeking freedom for him and his wife); and how, after eleven years of litigation, his case arrived at the Supreme Court.

The video explains Scott's argument that his residence in Minnesota meant that he was entitled to freedom under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance and Missouri Compromise.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's 7-2 two-part decision rejected Scott's claims.  In the first part, the Court ruled that Scott had no basis to bring his case because as a person descended from a slave, he was not and could never be a citizen of the United States.  In the second part, the Court went further, ruling that Congress never had the power to enact any laws restricting slavery, rendering all prior Congressional slavery compromises (like the Compromise of 1850 and Kansas-Nebraska Acts) unconstitutional.

Prof. VanderVelde gives a succinct explanation of the Court decision's impact: After Dred Scott, legislative compromise on slavery was no longer possible.  Instead, "There was no political future short of civil war."

To supplement and extend your lesson on this critical case, here are the best digital primary and secondary print resources to use with your students:
  • The Oyez Project from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • These two links (here and here) from PBS discussing the decision
  • the Our Documents site from the National Archives
  • this Web Guide from the Library of Congress

Friday, February 12, 2016

Loving v. VA

Thanks to my former colleague, Janet Babic who found this great four minute on Loving v. VA.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The New Hampshire Primary: In historical context

We teach history, so let's leave it to the Government teachers to discuss the meaning of tonight's New Hampshire primary with their students.  We can focus, instead, on the obvious history lesson relating to today's voting.

The New Hampshire primary has its own history.  Here are some terrific resources to share with your students to put the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary into historical perspective.

This video (5:36) describes the history of the primary, from when it started in 1916, through 1952 (beginning of the "beauty pageant" election), to the present, and how and why it asserted its first-in-the-nation place on the electoral calendar.
This playlist from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm's College includes short contemporaneous videos describing ten key New Hampshire primary elections, from 1952 (with candidates like Taft and Eisenhower for the Republicans, and Truman and Kefauver for the Democrats) to John McCain in 2000.  This video (0:49) from that playlist shows Bill Clinton in 1992 declaring himself the "Comeback Kid."
This essay from the New Hampshire Almanac summarizes the key features of each primary from 1952 to 1996.

This short essay lists the five biggest moments in New Hampshire primary history:
  1. 1952: Truman loses to Kefauver, which forces Truman to drop his re-election bid.  Eisenhower, a candidate for just one month, defeats Taft.
  2. 1968: McCarthy's strong challenge to LBJ forces Johnson to drop his re-election bid.
  3. 1984: A surging Gary Hart defeats a heavily-favored Vice President Walter Mondale.
  4. 1992: Clinton survives disclosure of his infidelities and casts a second-place finish as a moral victory.
  5. 2008: Hillary Clinton stops (temporarily) Barack Obama's momentum after his surprise victory in the Iowa caucus.
Classroom Connection: Divide your class into groups, and have each group research one of the primary elections.  Have them present their primary to their classmates, then have the class vote to rank order the elections that they think had the most impact on the United States.  The teams scoring the highest in the ranking could get extra credit points for being the most persuasive.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

World War I: Materials and lesson ideas

We're studying World War I this week so this is how I'm organizing my lessons:

Overview and topics
I've prepared a lecture that I'll show my students with nearpod.  I really like nearpod because it converts my PowerPoint slides so that I can run the presentation with my iPad and it displays on their personal devices.  That way I turn their phone into a learning tool.  Nearpod also lets me embed formative assessments like multiple choice questions and drawings (they draw their responses on their screens) so I can see on the spot when I need to reteach.

After my overview, students will watch these three short videos that I will embed into edpuzzle.  Edpuzzle lets me select online videos, clip them (if necessary), add or modify a sound track if I want, then embed formative assessments.  Students watch the videos on their personal devices.  I like presenting videos this way because it draws the students in more if they are watching them on their own device.  (Try it just once and you will see that this is true.)

This video (2:11) discusses Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.
This video (4:11) discusses the Zimmermann Telegram.
In this video (2:25), Prof. Eric Foner discusses Wilsonian Democracy and the Versailles Treaty.
After I finish my overview and the students watch these short videos, my students will begin a research phase using materials I push out to them using Google Classroom.  The resources were designed to help them focus on these six topics:
  1. U.S. entry into World War I
  2. War mobilization
  3. African-Americans and Women during World War I
  4. The war economy
  5. Wartime propoganda
  6. The peace treaty (Treaty of Versailles)
The resources are from Teaching with Documents on the Zimmermann Telegram from the National Archives, the U.S. State Department's Office of the Historian, the African American Odyssey online exhibit from the Library of Congress, and these sites on propaganda from Stanford University and the School of Education of the University of North Carolina.

Engaging focus question
I try to choose one question per unit to bore down deeper and extend my students' understanding of the material we are discussing.  For this unit the focus question is: When is dissent a crime?

I will divide the class into four group and give each a set of essays discussing the Supreme Court's case in Schenck v. United States (1919).  In that case, the Supreme Court considered whether mailing anti-war circulars violated the 1917 Espionage Act.  After conducting their reading, we will hold a whole-class discussion about whether various modern acts of anti-war protest could be suppressed.

The selected resources are from the National Constitution Center, Texas State Bar, PBS, and American Bar Association.

Students will be assessed based on a multiple-choice quiz using quia.  Quia ($45/year) lets you create your own learning games and quizzes, and then deliver them on any device.

That means that I can deliver all aspects of the lesson -- lecture, research, videos, and assessments -- using my students' smartphones!

American immigration: The best interactive map

I recently found this map while reading this post by Meg Miller.  She described an amazing interactive map created by the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab.
As you drag the slider at the bottom of the map, advancing from 1850 to 2000, the map shows you the country of origin, number, and destination for the millions of immigrants who came to America.  As amazing and cool as that looks, you can also click on any American city, and a chart on the right will tell you the country of origin and number of immigrants living in that city.  For example, dragging the slider to 1910 and clicking on Humboldt, Nevada, shows that the greatest number of foreign born residents came from Spain (197), followed by Germany (186), Italy (171) and Ireland (112).

Classroom connection: Use a jigsaw activity.  Divide the class into two groups.  Group A focuses immigration before World War I, and Group B focuses on post-World War I immigration.  Have each group look for patterns (number of immigrants, where they originate, where they settle) in the nations they are investigating.

Teacher's Tool-Kit: Primary source materials for Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February.  Carter G. Woodson is credited with having called for the first celebration of a Black History Week in 1926.  Woodson's one week celebration was expanded to the full week of February in 1976.  You can read about Woodson, the "father of Black History," in this essay from the NAACP.
There is an overflowing basket of quality primary-source materials to share and study with your students that specifically address issues relevant to Black History Month.  Here is a partial list.
  • The Smithsonian Institution's Education Department has this set of materials as part of its Heritage Teaching Resources. 
  • The Library of Congress created this portal to resources from the National Archive, Smithsonian, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Park Service.  The exhibits and collections are well curated so that you can easily find materials dealing with subjects like Art and Design, Civil Rights, Culture and Folklife, Historic Places, Music and Performing Arts, and Slavery.   
  • The Library of Virginia also has this list of valuable African American History sites.  Featured sites on this list include links to an anthology of American slave narratives, fighting massive resistance, and strong African-American men and women in Virginia history.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My New Imperialism Lesson and Materials

This week we're studying the period in U.S. History when America built a world empire.  I tell my students this is the clearest example yet of of how we can see aspects of modern-day America: a strong American economic, military, and diplomatic force around the world.
The caption reads: "Ten thousand miles from tip to tip."
One part of this unit is built around reading, discussing, and writing about primary sources that address different questions:
  1. Why did America seek to build a world empire?  To answer that question, my students read Albert Beveridge's speech, March of the Flag (1898).  That speech is rich in jingoism, as seen in these examples:
    • "Hawaii is ours; Porto (sic) Rico is to be ours; at the prayer of her people Cuba finally will be ours..."
    • "We can not retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner; it is ours to save that soil for liberty and civilization."
  2. What arguments were made by American opponents of the new imperialism?  Here we are reading the Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League (1899).  That document is great for students because it is so direct and clear in its reasoning:
    • "We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty..."
    • "We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines."
    • "We propose to contribute to the defeat of any person or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people."
  3. What arguments were made by foreign opponents of the new imperialism?  Here we read the shorter still Manifesto of Philippine opposition leader Emilio Aguinaldo.
The second main part of this unit is built around the terrific diplomatic "Milestone" resources of the Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State.  This is a collection of essays written at an easily accessible level for motivated high-school students.
Here I gave my students twelve vocabulary terms (the complete list is below) and they used information from that site (click here and here) to create flash cards.  As a whole class, we will have a competition to see who has the deepest (and fastest) knowledge of American diplomatic history during the late Gilded Era.
List of Gilded Era Vocabulary: Chinese Exclusion Acts; Admiral Mahan; Hawaii; Yellow Journalism; Spanish-American War; Philippine-American War; Open Door notes; Platt Amendment; Roosevelt Corollary; Portsmouth Treaty; Dollar Diplomacy; Panama Canal