We the Teachers

Liberty Fund Weekend Colloquium: Thomas Jefferson

15 teachers gathered in Charlottesville, VA, to discuss Thomas Jefferson through a collection of documents spanning most of his public life, and visit historic Monticello. Professor Todd Estes, of Oakland University, served as Discussion Leader for the weekend, facilitating sessions focusing on Jefferson’s ideas and writings during the American Revolution and presidency, in which teachers discussed the evolution of his political thought, and the complexity of his character as expressed through his ideas and, as president, his policies.

Teachers visited Monticello on Saturday, 18 March, where they toured the grounds and house, where they were able to see expressions of Jefferson’s mind at work in the many artifacts, art, and fascinating household gadgets he’d created and collected throughout his life there.

 

Recreating Teaching American History Colloquium, Teacher Helps Students Learn about African American Experience in World War I

Love of history and an interest in helping young people drew Jotwan Daniels away from a planned business career and into high school teaching. He also hoped to improve on the teaching method his own teachers had used. “They viewed students as baby birds: they digested material and regurgitated it for our consumption.” Consequently, “we retained historical concepts long enough to pass the test, then forgot them. They were brokers of knowledge; I want to facilitate learning,” Daniels says.

Daniels uses the approach Teaching American History (TAH) encourages: guiding students’ conversations about primary documents. He asks students to read several accounts of one event and then draw their own conclusions. “Reading primary documents allows students to ask questions of themselves, ask questions of each other, and ultimately ask questions of history,” Daniels says.

A TAH weekend colloquium on World War I introduced Daniels to primary documents he would later use in his classroom. He enjoyed discussing these texts with the facilitator: Professor Jennifer Keene, a historian at Chapman University and a visiting faculty member in the Masters of Arts in American History and Government (MAHG) program at Ashland University. Instead of lecturing, Keene guided the teachers in discussing readings on the experience of soldiers in the war and of Americans on the home front. Even so, Daniels felt he “really benefited from Keene’s expertise. I also enjoyed bouncing ideas off of other teachers on how we might use the documents to recreate the colloquium for our own students.”

Daniels wrote a lesson plan based on the colloquium, tested it with his students at Summit High School in Frisco, Colorado, and then contacted Teaching American History Program Manager Jeremy Gypton to report that the lesson went very well.

He used documents highlighting the African American soldier’s experience. Students first read President Wilson’s speech announcing America’s entrance into the war, calling it a fight to “make the world safe for democracy.” Then they read an editorial in the NAACP journal Crisis by W. E. B. Dubois, who urged black men to enlist. Finally they read a letter sent to Dubois by one of those who enlisted and fought in France.

African American Sergeant Charles Isum had been quartered in a French family’s home, treated as an honored guest and invited to social events. Accepting these invitations, as Isum told Dubois, brought his arrest by American military police, who had forbidden fraternization between the black soldiers and the French locals. After the French protested, Isum was released and a threatened court martial hearing was dropped.

To provide extra historical background, Daniels showed students a video on the 369th infantry regiment—an African American force sent to fight under the command of the French. Dubbed “hellfighters” by the Germans they fiercely combatted, they captured a key railroad junction during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Upon returning home to New York City, the “Harlem Hellfighters” were honored with speeches and parades.

Nevertheless, their heroic service did not lead, as Dubois had hoped, to better economic opportunities and recognition of civil rights for African Americans. The case of Corporal Henry Johnson, who with another soldier repulsed a surprise German attack on a bridge held by US forces, illustrates the stubborn African American reality after World War I. Johnson was awarded the highest French military honor—the Croix de Guerre—and personally welcomed home by New York Governor Al Smith. Yet he died young, poor and alone, his injuries having left him unable to support himself.

“The students I teach are still innocent,” Daniels said, “so they were shocked by what they read. But our conversations around these documents were amazing.” To prepare for discussion, students worked in pairs on a silent “collaborative annotation” exercise. They pasted copies of the documents to butcher-block paper and then wrote comments around them. “One student’s annotation would prompt a written response from his partner.” Having processed the documents silently, all were ready to join the conversation that followed.

Later, students returned to the butcher-block paper to complete a Venn diagram. Inside one circle they noted African American soldiers’ experience in France; inside the other they wrote about these soldiers’ experience in America. In the overlap between the circles they noted conditions the soldiers experienced in both countries. This exercise helped students articulate the ways that racist attitudes blinded many Americans to what the French recognized as heroic service.

Daniels believes that reading the testimony of the past, even when it shows American failures, does not teach cynicism about the American future. “History can be a little sad,” Daniels says. “But if students understand the historical background of current events, they may be better able to devise solutions to those problems today.”

Troops from the 396th Infantry Regiment, the Harlem Hellfighters.

Jotwan Daniels teaches American history at Summit High School in Frisco, Colorado.

Students stretch out on the floor for the silent annotation exercise.

Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio

Our friends at the Ohio History Connection are pleased to announce their 2017 NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop entitled Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio.  This opportunity is open to all K-12 teachers in the United States, the US territories, and Department of Defense schools.

20150720_112536You are invited to join them this summer to learn about the internationally-significant sites of the Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures in Ohio: the Newark Earthworks, Fort Ancient, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and Serpent Mound. Attending Summer Scholars will experience these sites with expert scholars who will bring the sites to life; and learn about archeological methodology and teaching historic sites from practicing archaeologists and site educators. The one-week workshop will be run twice, July 9-14 and July 23-28, 2017, and is based in Columbus, Ohio. The program is free for accepted applicants and includes a stipend to aid in covering travel and other expenses. Teachers who have previously attended this workshop are not eligible. Applications are due March 1, 2017. For more information and application instructions, visit http://hopewell.creativelearningfactory.org

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

 

Liberty Fund Weekend Colloquium: George Washington

This last weekend 18 teachers came to Alexandria, Virginia  for a Liberty Fund Colloquia on George Washington.  Topics of conversation considered Washington’s early life and the beginning of the Revolution and his advocacy for Federalism and Republicanism.  Teachers discussed the complexities of his first and second Presidencies, and the difficulty of setting new precedents while always remaining committed to the limits set forth within the Constitution.  We spoke at great length of Washington’s virtue, integrity, character and commitment to his nation.  Washington set for the standard by which all future Presidents were and are  judged.  After a long day of thoughtful discussion, teachers toured the Mount Vernon estate and the Presidential Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest is Underway!

TAH.org is once again excited to support the Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest. This is an excellent opportunity for a high school teacher to sponsor an outstanding student essay. The contest asks student to build a thoughtful essay about the following:

“In To Make Their Interests Coincide With Their Duty: How the Constitution Leads Public Officials to Make Good Decisions, law professor Robert T. Miller argues that the brilliance of the American Constitution is that it “creates a system of procedures for selecting public officials and ordering how they make decisions that are in the best interests of society.” Analyze one consequential presidential decision to determine to what extent, if any, the Constitution leads presidents to make good decisions.

The winning student essay will received a grand prize of $5,000, plus a trip to D.C. for 2. The teacher who sponsors the winning student will receive a prize of $1,000. Additional cash prizes are available. Find prize and rule details here. The essay contest deadline is Friday, December 15, 2016.

Liberty Fund Weekend Colloquium: Abraham Lincoln

Eighteen teachers from across the United States gathered in Springfield, IL, from 9-11 September to study Abraham Lincoln’s public life, through a broad selection of readings representing his early political career, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and the phases of his presidency. Led by Dr. Joe Fornieri, teachers took part in six 90-minute discussion sessions throughout the weekend, and also visited the historic Lincoln Home and Lincoln Museum, both in Springfield.

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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

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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: August 5-7 Weekend Colloquia

This last weekend, Aug 5th-7th, TeachingAmericanHistory.org conducted two Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites for forty-five teachers from across America.  

Professor Steve Knott, with the Naval War College, chaired the colloquia on “John Adams:  Founding Vice President and President” in Quincy, Massachusetts. John Adams had a lengthy and illustrious career, spanning over 40 years in public service. This weekend’s conversation focused on “The First Vice President” “Adams, Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton”,  “President John Adams” and the last session discussed “The Election of 1800 and It’s Aftermath.” Teachers also enjoyed a private tour of United First Parish Church, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried, as well as tours of the Adams Homestead.  

Ashbrook Teachers tour the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried

Ashbrook Teachers tour the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Peter Myers, with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, led the colloquia on “Civil Rights in America” in Atlanta, Georgia. Teachers delved into primary documents that covered topics such as “Civil Rights: the Prologue” “The Turning Point: Brown v Board of Education” “The Civil Rights Movement: Victory and Division” and the “Post Civil Rights Era.”  Participants toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights for several hours.

Ashbrook Teachers outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights

Ashbrook Teachers outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about this program and other available teaching resources, please visit www.TeachingAmericanHistory.org.

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.

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

Program Report: The Grand Alliance at New Orleans

Teachers from California to Massachusetts gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 22-24 July to learn about the historic Yalta Conference of February 1945, in which the stage was set for much of the geopolitical boundaries and balance for the latter half of the 20th Century. Teachers participated in a weekend-long documents-based  simulation in which each person played the role of a participant in the conference, using primary documents to promote the causes of their delegation and seek to achieve individual goals, as well. The program also included a visit to the National World War 2 Museum, and a viewing of the outstanding Beyond All Boundaries film.

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Dr. John Moser, of Ashland University and the co-chair of the Master of Arts in American History and Government degree program, served as discussion leader.

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.

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