We the Teachers

Program Report: Alexander Hamilton hosted at Fraunces Tavern, NYC

This last Saturday, October 15th, the esteemed Dr. Stephen Knott presented a Forum at the Fraunces Tavern in New York City.  Fifty-five teachers from several states gathered at this historic site, the very place where General Washington bid farewell to his troops at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.  Dr. Knott spoke on “Hamilton’s View of Federal Power”, “Launching the New Government” and “Cabinet Warfare: The Report on Manufacturing and the Whiskey Rebellion” as topics, as well as all facets of Hamilton’s life, his workings with Washington, the rivalry with Jefferson and the duel with Burr that ended his life. All participants received a copy of Dr. Knott’s latest book, “Washington and Hamilton: An Alliance That Forged America”   This program was generously funded by the Achelis & Bodman Foundations.  

Teachers at the Fraunces Tavern

Teachers at the Fraunces Tavern

 

Five Teachers Compare Student Attitudes Toward Civil War

In this post, we report on five teachers’ project to assign a common book probing American understanding of the Civil War. Five Madison Fellows from five states, four of them in the MAHG program, required all their American history students to read the same historical text, Apostles of Disunion, which makes a compelling argument against a long-standing theme of historiography on the American Civil War. 

Five Teachers Compare Student Attitudes in North and South Toward the Civil War

Creative Collaborations Among Teachers

The friendships that begin in the Master of Arts program in History and Government lead to a fertile exchange of teaching ideas. Recently they’ve led to teaching collaborations across time zones.

In this post, we share the story of two teachers who collaborated in assigning a local history project. Through it, students in California and Ohio learned that trends in national history have shaped their hometowns in parallel ways.

California and Ohio Teachers Collaborate on Local History Project

 

 

MAHG by the Numbers

On Saturday, August 13th, Ashland University awarded the degree of Master of Arts to 24 MAHG/MASTAHG students.  Since 2005, 174 students have earned the degree.

Twenty-two of these new graduates were in the MAHG program; two were in MASTAHG program.  They came from 15 states and include 14 James Madison Fellows.  Two students wrote a thesis, four created a capstone project, and 18 completed their studies via the qualifying examination.

There are now 244 students in the MAHG program; 75 in MASTAHG.  These students come from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and one US territory, the Virgin Islands (yeah, Norda!).

A free coffee mug to anyone who guesses which two states don’t have representatives in MAHG.  Two free coffee mugs if you enroll in the program from one of those states!

Students on campus this summer came from 36 states. For the Fall schedule of classes, go to https://www.ashland.edu/mahg/student-informationschedule-courses/fall-2016.  For more information, please contact Chris Pascarella at cpascarella@tah.org.

Program Reports: The Father of the Constitution and The New Frontier

TAH.org hosted two Colloquia the weekend of August 12-14: James Madison: The Father of the Consitution at Montpelier and John F Kennedy: The New Frontier in Quincy, Massachusetts.  

No single person contributed more to the constitutional mind of America than James Madison.  Through his contributions to the U.S. Constitution, Madison shaped this republican form of government.  Professor Chris Burkett, of Ashland University, led the conversation as teachers explored readings on religious liberty, the Federalist Papers, Bill of Rights and Madison’s final advice to his country.  Participants enjoyed a three hour tour of Montpelier and its beautiful grounds.  

Professor Stephen Knott, of the Naval War College, chaired the Weekend Colloquium on President John F. Kennedy, the nation’s youngest elected President.  This colloquium examined Kennedy’s brief presidency, including his Cold War policies toward the Soviet Union, Cuba, Berlin and Vietnam, his domestic initiatives on civil rights; as well as his lasting impact on the office of the presidency.  Teacher visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as well.  

For more information and teacher resources, please visit our website www.teachingamericanhistory.org

IMG_3967

Ashbrook Teachers outside Montpelier

Ashbrook Teachers engaging in discussion during the Father of the Constitution colloquia.

Ashbrook Teachers engaging in discussion during the Father of the Constitution colloquia.

Program Report: The Civil War at the Massachusetts Historical Society

Saturday, July 30th, TeachingAmericanHistory.org partnered once again with the Massachusetts Historical Society for a Forum on the Civil War, generously sponsored by the Filene Foundation in Massachusetts.  Dr. Joseph Fornieri, Political Scientist with the Rochester Technical Institute chaired the conversation with three sessions: “A House Divided” Causes of the Conflict; “The Apple of Gold and Picture of Silver”: Secession and The Union; and finally “A New Birth of Freedom.” We enjoyed lively discussion under the watchful gaze of John and Abigail Adams, Daniel Webster and  General Washington (some of the  portraits in the meeting room).  When the program concluded, participants enjoyed several new exhibits at the Massachusetts Historical Society, such as the pen that President Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. General Washington’s epaulet’s are on display as are several letters of John Winthrop,  along with artifacts of King Phillip’s War. If you are in the Boston area, please stop in and visit!

The pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation

The pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

IMG_3915

Dr. Joseph Fornieri leading discussion at the Forum on the Civil War at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Program Reports: “The American Founding” and “The Origins of the Cold War”

The Manatee Technical College hosted a two day TAH.org seminar on the topics of The American Founding and The Origins of the Cold War that drew teachers from southern and central Florida.  Dr. David Alvis, from Wofford College, led the discussion on The American Fouding, with three sessions that considered documents such as Abraham Lincoln’s “Fragment on th the Constitution”; Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; James Madison’s “Vices of the political System of the United States” Federalist Papers #47, #10 and #51.  

Dr. David Krugler, Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, chaired conversation in the Origins of the Cold War Seminar.  Thirty educators came together to discuss documents of Wartime Alliance 1939-1941, followed with readings on the Origins of Containment 1945-1947 and we concluded with primary sources on the Practice of Containment 1947-1950.  

For more information on upcoming seminars and programs, please visit www.teachingamericanhistory.org.  

Teachers with Professor David Krugler at Manatee Technical College

Program Report: Charlottesville Weekend Colloquia

This past weekend, July 22-24, TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the Ashbrook Center hosted two Weekend Colloquia in Charlottesville, VA on Thomas Jefferson.  Professor Eric Sands of Berry College, chaired a Colloquia on The Politics of Thomas Jefferson while Professor Robert McDonald of the U.S. Military Academy, led a Colloquia on Thomas Jefferson and Education.  

Thomas Jefferson believed that “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”  One group focused on only on Jefferson’s education and his plans for educational reform in Virginia but also his founding of the United States Military Academy in 1802 and the University of Virginia in 1819.  

Dr. Sands facilitated conversation that centered on Thomas Jefferson and Politics, which considered topics as the Constitution, Race, Religious Freedom, Education and his lasting legacy.  Participants enjoyed an afternoon tour of Monticello which was in full bloom with spring tulips.  After dinner Dr. McDonald delighted everyone with a tour of the University of Virginia to discuss Jefferson’s architectural designs.  

A group of Ashbrook Teachers taking in the sights at Monticello.

A group of Ashbrook Teachers taking in the sights at Monticello.

Civics Renewal Network/AP Conference Presentation Materials

TeachingAmericanHistory.org

TAH.org has partnered with the Civics Renewal Network to present a workshop at the 2016 Advanced Placement Annual Conference, in Anaheim, California. TAH.org will also be on the vendor hall floor with CRN, so stop by and see if us you’re planning on attending the conference.

The resources below are a collection of documents-based webinars, reading packets, lessons, and archived courses all focused on or related to Reconstruction. The documents packets include not only documents, but also guiding questions and short summaries establishing context. The webinars are about 75 minutes long each. None of these require any passwords or any registration, and all materials and linked pages can be posted freely on other websites so long as TAH.org is attributed as the original source.

Ashbrook Graduate Earns Top Teacher Award from Daughters of the American Revolution

The Daughters of the American Revolution have named a graduate of Ashbrook’s Master of Arts in American History and Government (MAHG) degree program as West Virginia’s Outstanding Teacher of American History for 2016. Adena Barnette, who teaches at Ripley High School, also placed third in the national competition.

In March, Adena Barnette was presented the DAR award for Outstanding Teacher of American History at the Greenbrier National Historic Landmark in White Sulphur Springs.

Active in statewide and national education efforts and a frequent traveller to out-of-state teacher seminars, Barnette brings the wider world to students in her hometown of Ripley. It‘s an Appalachian town of about 3,500, thirty miles north of Charleston. It boasts the country’s largest small town Independence Day celebration, which drew a visit from President George W. Bush in the July following 9/11. Yet students in the economically challenged town need a push to claim their personal potential.

The high school serves 1,000 students from Ripley and surrounding communities. Barnette chairs the social studies department and teaches the college preparatory track: helping students, often the first in their families to aspire to college, gain the skills for admission and success. Meanwhile, she encourages the “belief that hard work begets success.”

“My students read primary sources at least three out of five days in any given week,” Barnette told the DAR awards panel. This requires hands-on teaching as she guides students in highlighting, annotating, looking up vocabulary words, and moving from analysis to high-order questioning of the implications of a text.

Barnette credits Ashbrook’s Master’s program, which is based on the study of primary documents, with sharpening her own skills of both document analysis and writing. “To become a good writer, it helps to emulate the great American writers . . . thinking about what they say and how they say it.”

Through the program, Barnette developed her analytical and writing skills well enough to earn the Chairman’s award for her thesis, which presented ground-breaking research on the Constitutional process through which West Virginia detached from Virginia, becoming its own state.

Ashbrook’s MAHG program also gave Barnette valuable colleagues. “Living in a rural area, you can feel isolated if you don’t know others in your community who are equally obsessed with American history. I can bounce ideas off of my MAHG friends, ask questions about my lesson plans, and share my latest projects.”

One such project is the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a national non-profit organization working with like-minded groups to increase access to educational resources. Barnette serves on the Education Advisory Committee to the DPLA and has written teaching guides to six primary source sets on a wide range of American history topics, from coal mining and labor history to colonial American religion. Still, Barnette calls Ashbrook’s Teaching American History website “one of the greatest repositories for primary sources. If I’m looking for a document, that’s where I go.”

Teaching key American documents that articulate American principles serves Barnette’s primary goal of “instilling a genuine and abiding patriotism that rises above party, region, or demographic.” She quotes John Adams: “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people,” adding that “it rests on educators’ shoulders whether our American republic will continue to be a ‘city on a hill’ or a failed experiment in democracy.”

Barnette is the second graduate of Ashbrook’s Master’s program to have placed nationally in the DAR competition. Nancy Lindblom of Arizona won the top national award in 2012. Michelle Hubenschmidt of Florida, now a manager of Ashbrook teacher programs, won the national award bestowed by the Sons of the American Revolution, a brother organization to the DAR, in 2012. These awards testify to Ashbrook’s key role in strengthening American constitutional government through civic education.

Program Report: FDR vs. Hoover at the MA Historical Society in Boston

On Saturday, May 21st TAH.org brought Dr. Gordon Lloyd to the Massachusetts Historical Society to present on FDR’s “Forgotten Man” vs. Hoover’s “Rugged Individual”. This seminar discussed the Great Depression, speeches and policies of Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt.

IMG_3532

The conversation considered topics such as Executive Power, the Constitution, The Supreme Court along with the national morale of the people. All of the selected readings can be found in The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century by Dr. Gordon Lloyd.

As Dr. Lloyd says, “May the blessings of Liberty be upon you.”

Ashbrook Master’s Graduate Named Ohio’s Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher

In October, Kimberly Huffman, a graduate of Ashbrook’s Master of Arts in American History and Government degree program, was named Ohio’s Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher.  The Ohio Council of Social Studies (OCSS), which promotes social studies education, recognized Huffman for exceptional practice in teaching, leadership in her school community, supporting the success of youth, and promoting youth’s civic participation.

Huffman touring the White House during her month-long internship with the office of Congressman Renacci.

Huffman touring the White House during her month-long internship with the office of Congressman Renacci.

Huffman teaches government at Wayne County Schools Career Center (WCSCC), a school where students learn career-technical skills while completing high school academic requirements. The career center emphasizes hands-on learning, with a range of apprenticeship opportunities, from bricklaying to nursing and hospitality work. Although Huffman teaches an academic rather than a skills-based subject, she focuses on real-life application.

Jean Roberts, former Career Services Coordinator at WCSCC, who nominated Huffman for the award, noted the “high energy” level in Huffman’s classroom. Students grasp the relevance of government under Huffman’s guidance, engaging with enthusiasm in research reports, current event discussions, and conversations with Ohio political officials or their staffers who visit the classroom in person or via Skype. Huffman “instills both knowledge and passion for the democratic process in her students,” Roberts said.

Huffman teaches a state-mandated government course to juniors and seniors.  Since completing her Master’s, she has also taught a “dual enrollment” government course that gives students three college credits through Stark State College. This head start on an associates degree would not have opened at WCSCC had Huffman not discovered Ashbrook’s nearby master’s program with its summer schedule. Like many teachers in Ashbrook’s program, Huffman did not want to take time off, abandoning her students, while earning her degree.

Huffman particularly appreciated the government component of Ashbrook’s program. “I got a B.A. in education with a concentration in social studies,” which required low-level courses in history, sociology, economics, geography, and political science. This did not supply the content knowledge she needed to teach government. “I was told that if I concentrated in political science I’d never get hired. But you don’t find your passion by learning a little bit about a lot of different things. Now, thanks to Ashbrook, I know a lot about a smaller area—government and politics.”

Huffman encourages students to become “engaged citizens who understand and protect their rights. I tell students that to protect our freedoms, we have to know the Constitution”—lest we discover the liberties it protects only “after they’re taken away.” Huffman advises the student leadership council at WCSCC, helping students “strategize how to correct” school issues. “You have to understand the established process of government and work within those parameters.” She must reason against the impatience of adolescence and a “distaste for politics” noticeable across all age groups.

In 2013, Huffman was the high school teacher chosen as Congressional Fellow by the James Madison Foundation, giving her a rare month-long internship in a Washington Congressional office. Huffman worked for Jim Renacci, Congressman for Ohio’s 16th district, gaining great respect for the long hours and careful thought Renacci puts in as he balances competing interests within his district. She can now explain to her students the difficulty of making legislative decisions. Last summer Huffman furthered her knowledge of a particular interest—the Supreme Court—when she attended a seminar on the Supreme Court at Stanford University.

Huffman says Ashbrook’s program built her confidence to tackle these challenges. The professors “stretch you, exposing you to primary documents and their importance. Before, I was a textbook teacher—always just two weeks ahead of the kids” in her grasp of the subject. “Now I have a repertoire of primary documents to use in class and a secure knowledge of the subject.” Using primary sources as a framework for class debate, Huffman can “let the students arrive at their own conclusions.” Like other Ashbrook-educated teachers, Huffman has seen that when students read America’s founding documents, they embrace on their own the principles of our democratic system.

Teacher Offers Students A Second Chance To Engage With History Through Primary Documents

TAH.org Teacher seminars model the free and thoughtful discussion of primary documents. Creative teachers like Deb Wiley Horner take the documents and discussion back to the classroom, and watch their students begin to care about history. 

Horner attends every TAH.org Saturday seminar she can. The seminars are held on the Ashland University campus and she finds them rejuvenating after a week working with students many would find challenging to teach: residents at the Portage-Geauga County Juvenile Detention Center in Ravenna, Ohio.

Horner’s students range in age from 12 to 18. They arrive unpredictably and stay from a few weeks to three months. Most lack good parental role models for dealing with the conflicts of adolescence. They are suspicious of authority figures, having often gotten into trouble by acting out natural feelings of anger and resentment. They feel victim to the hidden agendas of the adults in their lives.

But primary documents give them access to the inside story of history. The letters and speeches of earlier Americans reveal what they actually thought and intended. Reading the documents, Horner’s students feel they are at last getting the straight story.

Some bright students also gain a new critical thinking tool. If asked to turn from a primary document to an historian’s summary, they ask, “Who wrote this? What was that person’s angle?”

As they become fascinated with history, Horner’s students develop academic discipline. One student, working on a computer in Horner’s room during a study period, watched her preparing to teach a class on the Declaration of Independence. The student then found the online document on the Teaching American History website. After a while, Horner noticed he was writing down every word in the Declaration that he did not understand, then checking an online dictionary for the definitions. Horner used the student’s annotated vocabulary list the next day as she taught the document.

For a women’s history project, the same student asked Horner to help him find a collection of letters between John and Abigail Adams. He then incorporated selections from the letters in a powerpoint presentation on the second first lady. Horner is encouraging this student to finish high school and go to college.

Horner listens at TAH.org seminars for the human dynamic in history that relates to her students’ lives. “I went to an TAH program at the Heinz Center with Gordon Lloyd on ‘Fifty Ways to Love Your Founders.’ He spoke about how the Founders argued a lot. I love that I can tell my students, ‘They agreed on the principle of freedom, but they did not agree on everything.’” Horner helps students realize that you can have a serious disagreement with someone without throwing a punch.

You can even collaborate with an antagonist on projects of great consequence. When Horner’s students read the Declaration, she said, “we discussed how the document ends, with the signers saying, ‘We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.’ The signers were committing treason against Great Britain. I asked students to imagine what could have happened to them if the Revolution failed. Then I asked, ‘What does it mean to be willing to lay your life down for someone you’ve actually been arguing with?’’’

During her free periods, Horner’s students see her reading. “They see me pull a document from the stack on my desk and ask what’s in it. I say, ‘It’s for my weekend Ashbrook seminar.’ They ask, ‘Why do you keep going to these classes?’ and I answer, ‘So I can be a more informed teacher for you, and can bring you a different perspective than you’ve heard before.’ It’s inspirational for them. They think, ‘If my teacher is still learning, why can’t I?’”

Freedom Day Resources

 

tah

In support of ‘Freedom Day,’ TeachingAmericanHistory.org has collected a variety of resources for you and your classes. Freedom Day encourages people of all ages to explore how Americans’ freedoms of speech and expression are exercised, threatened, and protected in the past and today in the world. Join with the Civics Renewal Network and National Constitution Center in conversation, activities and online programs to discuss the meaning for Freedom and its relevance in modern society.  The Center has chosen April 13th to celebrate the understanding and meaning of freedom expressed by the Constitution and other founding documents however, schools can choose to celebrate on that day or any day that week.

  • Primary Document-based lesson plan collections – lessons on a wide variety of topics related to American history, government, and civics, all based in primary documents
  • The Constitutional Convention Online Exhibit – the web’s most-visited and comprehensive resource on the Convention of 1787
  • The Bill of Rights Online Exhibit – An extensive study of the politics, ideas, origins, and legacy of the United States Bill of Rights
  • Religion in America – A unique and powerful study of the place and impact of religion in American politics and life
  • 50 Core American Documents – The essential starting point from which to consider what it means to be an American. Over 67,000 print and ebook copies of this volume have been distributed since late 2014
  • Presidential Academy – 31 sessions addressing the broad scope of American history, challenges, and ideas from the Founding through the late 20th Century
  • Thomas Jefferson – An extensive collection of letters, political writings, and other resources spanning the years from 1774 to his death in 1826

 

Program Report: “Civil Disobedience” Seminar in Asheville, NC

Last Saturday teachers from four states gathered in Asheville, North Carolina for one of the final TAH.org seminars of 2015. They discussed “Civil Disobedience” with Dr. David Alvis, an interesting topic that explored America’s founding and it’s roots in civil disobedience. What does civil disobedience mean? How far can a person or group act upon their convictions before it deemed not civil?

IMG_3354

This seminar’s three sessions began with John Locke’s Two Treatises and the Declaration of Independence. Was the American Revolution “revolutionary” or merely a “war for independence” when compared to the French or Russian Revolutions. The second session considered Henry David Thoreau’s idea of conscientious disobedience, that a person is morally obligated to act upon any repugnant injustice or law, regardless of the outcome. However, with that idea come events like John Brown acting on his own moral authority who murders in the name of justice. Juxtapose Thoreau’s writings with Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum address and he warns of the dangers with “mobocracy” and the need for rule of law at all times. Our third session compared Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail writings to Malcolm X “The Ballot of the Bullet”.  All in all, it was a very thought provoking day.

We hope to meet you at one of our programs in 2016.

 

50 Documents That Tell America’s Story

Required reading for students, teachers, and citizens.

Access Now

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org