We the Teachers

Constitution Day is Thursday, September 17th! 

Are you ready with lessons and resources that will help your students learn about this document and its history, meaning, and importance?

TeachingAmericanHistory.org has a diverse selection of documents, lessons, and other resources that will help you help your students. To kick of Constitution Month, we’re starting with the most obvious: the Constitution itself.

We will be posting resources daily, Monday through Friday, on our Facebook page – TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Join the Constitution Month conversation with your fellow teachers by following our Facebook page.

You’ll notice at that link a few interesting things. First, there is the document itself. Along with it is a short summary that establishes the historical context and meaning of the document. There are also some guiding questions for the document. Next the Summary tab is one that provides a scholar-curated list of related documents. Finally, the Academic Standards tab enables you to search for state academic content standards for Social Studies and the Common Core ELA standards for History and Social Studies, by grade level.

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To accompany the document itself and those documents related to it, take a look at our new lesson plan archive, on Share My Lesson, a project of the American Federation of Teachers.

In our next Constitution Month email we’ll highlight some multimedia resources that you and your students can use to learn about the Convention of 1787.

Session 8: The Constitution and American Self-Government

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

How does the Constitution work? How do constitutional means produce constitutional ends? How do the principles of the regime work their way into the mechanisms of the federal government? What role does public opinion play in constitutional self-government?

Saturday Webinar: George Washington

 

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We kicked off the 2015-16 season of TAH.org’s Saturday Webinars with George Washington, father of our country, and a discussion of his person, times, and the challenges America faced in its first years as a republic. Read the documents and view a YouTube archive of the discussion – attended by over 100 teachers right here.

Session 7: The Constitutional Convention pt3 – The Committee of Detail Report and the Close of the Convention

Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

Who was elected to the Committee of Detail and what has been their position so far with respect to the republican and federal issues? How does the Committee on Detail Report differ from the original and amended Virginia Plans and what significant recommendations did it make? Who was elected to the Slave Trade Committee and what had they said about slavery up to that point? How did the slavery provisions undergo changes during the deliberations?

The Bill of Rights: A Comprehensive Course

TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s Dr. Gordon Lloyd, author of the Online Exhibits on the American Founding, is the presenter of six one-hour lectures on the Bill of Rights, from its historical roots to ratification. TAH.org now offers these lectures, and associated primary documents, as an iTunes U course, which you can access here. You’ll need an iOS device to experience the interface as it’s been designed; however, you can access the videos and all of Dr. Lloyd’s online content at the Bill of Rights exhibit on TAH.org.

Religious Liberty and the American Founding

 

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George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI is perhaps the best expression of the spirit of religious liberty that shaped the new American republic.  August of 2015 is the 225th anniversary of its composition, and our webinar on 22 AUG was in celebration of this important moment in American history.

In addition to Washington’s letter, scholars and teachers discussed Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.  All three documents may be found in 50 Core American Documents: Required Reading for Students, Teachers and Citizens.

For the story behind the letter and additional information about it, please visit the web site of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.

Session 6: The Constitutional Convention pt2 – The Connecticut Compromise

Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

What accounts for the persistence of the New Jersey Plan supporters despite their defeat earlier? What are the arguments against the “legality” and “practicality” of the Amended Virginia Plan? When and how did the Connecticut Compromise emerge as a viable alternative? How did the “partly national, partly federal” concept enter the discussion? Why did Madison argue that the issue facing the delegates was not small states vs. large states but the slavery question? What is the significance of who was elected to the Gerry Committee? Who changed their minds and why during this month long discussion over representation? Who favored and who opposed the Connecticut Compromise? What else, besides the representation issue, was discussed during this part of the Convention?

Session 5: The Constitutional Convention, pt1 – The Alternative Plans

Lecture, Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

Of what significance were the rules adopted by the Convention? In what respects did the Virginia Plan represent a new constitution rather than a mere revision of the Articles? What were delegates’ initial reactions and questions concerning the Virginia Plan? What parts of the Plan were rejected or amended? What did the delegates mean when they spoke of a national government as opposed to a federal government? What different principles animate the New Jersey and Virginia Plans and the Hamilton Proposal? Why were they even introduced? What are the arguments for representation of the states, as opposed to the people, in the federal government? Consider the discussions of the executive power, bicameralism, and the role of the judiciary in the context of “republican principles.” What do “republican principles” say about the sources of power, the powers, and the structure of the federal government? Is Madison’s extended republic argument a departure from republican principles?

Session 4: The Revolutionary Era

Lecture, Dr. David Hackett Fischer:  

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Focus

How did the American colonists define liberty and freedom as they sought to secure their independence from mother England? During the Revolutionary War, what difficulties did the Americans face in fighting for liberty while maintaining the supremacy of civilian over military authority?
Readings
  • Fischer, Washington’s Crossing

TAH.org Weekend Colloquium: New Orleans

TAH.org hosted a diverse group of teachers in New Orleans over the weekend of 31 July to 2 August. The topic, Security, Self-Determination, and Empire: The Grand Alliance, 1941-1945, focused on the interactions between the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Union during World War 2, with a special emphasis on the Yalta Conference of 1945, during which many of the agreements for the post-war world and divisions of land, people, and power were made. Teachers visited the National World War 2 Museum and along with seeing the new European Theater Galleries, saw the outstanding Tom Hanks-narrated Beyond All Boundaries documentary. In keeping with the special format of the program – a documents-based simulation of the Yalta Conference, with teachers playing the roles of specific national leaders and their assistants, with competing agendas and priorities – it was decided that an attempt at a recreation of the famous photo of the ‘Big 3′ at Yalta would be appropriate.

Keep your eyes on our Weekend Colloquia page for dates and locations for Fall 2015 programs. You can also register to receive email updates through the interest form at the bottom of our homepage.

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TAH.org Weekend Colloquia in Philadelphia and Charlottesville

TAH.org held several Weekend Colloquia simultaneously this past weekend. Social Studies and Civics teachers from across the country spent time with scholars and peers in Charlottesville, VA and Philadelphia, PA discussing primary documents and touring historic sites.

Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello, hosted two colloquia and over forty educators. Jefferson famously stated, “I cannot live without books” and felt that education was foundational to the success of this young republic. The Colloquia Jefferson and Education focused and explored that theme with scholar Dr. Robert McDonald of the United States Military Academy leading the discussion. He is also an alumni of Jefferson’s University of Virginia and eagerly invited participants on a Saturday evening tour of the campus.

Keeping on the Jefferson topic, an additional Colloquia entitled Jefferson, the Enigma also occurred that weekend, with scholar Dr. Eric Sands who also graduated from the University of Virginia and currently instructs with Berry College. To this day, Jefferson remains an enigmatic character, one who is highly discussed and debated for his views on equality, slavery, constitutionalism, and federalism. Readings for this seminar focused on those issues as well as Jefferson’s impact on Lincoln and his Presidency.

Charlottesville July 2015

Dr. Christopher Burkett of Ashland University presided as scholar in Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” for a colloquium on James Madison: Statesman for Constitutional Government. Is there a more fitting place to hold a conversation on the Constitution? Participants spent several sessions discussing this nation’s founding documents on Civil and Religious Liberty; The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. After a tour of Independence Hall, Dr. Burkett narrated a short walking tour of Philadelphia.

Philly July 2015

We would enjoy meeting you at one of the Weekend Colloquia or other programs and hope you have signed up for email notifications for upcoming programs at TAH.org. To view our Programs Calendar please visit, TAH.org/events.

Session 3: The American Mind, Part 2

Lecture, Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

The political logic of the argument of the Declaration, continued: Further reflections on the course of human events, people, the laws of nature and of nature’s God, decent respect for the opinions of mankind, self evident truths, equality, rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, consent, prudence, the ends of government, the right to abolish government and institute new government, facts submitted to a candid world, sacred honor, and more.

Religious Liberty and the American Founding Webinar

A Discussion Celebrating the 225th Anniversary of Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation

George Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI is perhaps the best expression of the spirit of religious liberty that shaped the new American republic.  This August is the 225th anniversary of its composition.  Join us at our August 22 webinar for a discussion in commemoration of the letter.  We will discuss how religious liberty came about, its connection to America’s founding principles, and its consequences for American history and politics.

In addition to Washington’s letter, we will be discussing Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.  All three documents may be found in the Ashbrook Center’s 50 Core American Documents: Required Reading for Students, Teachers and Citizens.

For the story behind the letter and additional information about it, please visit the web site of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.

Readings from the 50 Core American Documents:

The program will take place on Saturday, August 22nd, at 11am EST, and will last about 75 minutes. It is free. Panelists will be David Tucker and Chris Burkett.

Click here to register for this special event

TAH.org Springfield Weekend Colloquium on American History & Government

This past weekend middle and high school teachers gathered in Springfield, Illinois to discuss and analyze Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric, speeches, and writings with Professor Joseph Fornieri, Historian and Professor of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Dr. Fornieri and teachers dissected the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Alexander Stephens and referenced those influences upon Abraham Lincoln’s Peoria Speech, Gettysburg Address, and Inaugural Speech. President Lincoln endured deep crises and his writings and musings reflected his struggle with the moral and legal issue of slavery, states’ rights, and constitutional limits.

After a morning of discussion and analysis, participants enjoyed an afternoon visit to Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield home, followed by a tour of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. 2015.07 Springfield

Participants enjoyed profound conversation mixed with levity and laughter within the sessions, and into the after hours as well. We are excited to be able to help advance the content knowledge of teachers at our programs. About half of the teachers who attended had never participated in a TAH.org program and have already registered for other seminars and webinars.

The 15th Amendment: Providing the Vote

 

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On 21 July, NCSS and TAH.org hosted the last of three episodes in their joint Summer Webinar Series about the Reconstruction amendments. Professor Scott Yenor discussed with a group of teachers the reasoning behind the 15th Amendment, different ideas about how to achieve its goal, and the resulting impact of access to the vote – real or imagined – by African-Americans over time. You can download a copy of the slideshow here, and the reading packet for the entire series here.

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