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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

img_0773

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: 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 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.

IMG_0699

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 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.

Program Report: Henry Clay Weekend Colloquium

The weekend of June 17th-19th,  teachers from around the country convened in Lexington, Kentucky for a TAH.org Weekend Colloquia on Henry Clay.  This colloquium focused on Henry Clay’s extensive career and statesmanship during America’s antebellum period. As Speaker of the House he assumed a leading role in public affairs only relinquished with his death in 1852. Clay  earned a reputation for fashioning political compromise, soothed sectional tensions and attempted to  preserve the Union. Educators visited The Ashland Estate, Henry Clay’s home and enjoyed an entertaining dinner visit with Henry Clay (re-enactor George McGee) who challenged Professor Dan Monroe to a duel.  

IMG_3787 IMG_3821

 

Program Report: LBJ and Vietnam

Seventeen teachers, ranging from California to New York, joined TAH.org andDr. David Krugler of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Austin, Texas, for a weekend colloquium about President Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the Vietnam War. The program included a visit to the LBJ Library and Museum, and discussion sessions aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of LBJ’s reasons for war, escalation, strategy for the conflict, and the impact of anti-war protests on him and American policy. In addition to the reading packet, which can be downloaded here, Dr. Krugler recommended both Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides, and for a thoughtful survey of American foreign policy, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776.

IMG_0538

Weekend Colloquium: Ronald Reagan Library and Museum

IMG_0141

TAH.org hosted a group of teachers from across the country at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA, 8-10 April 2016. Reagan’s policies, ideas, and the crises he faced were discussed through a series of primary documents. Teachers were also able to visit the Reagan Library and Museum and take part in a two-hour presidential decision-making simulation, in which each person played the role of someone in Reagan’s leadership team or the media. The simulation challenged teachers to work through multiple policy and media crises, and utilized real-time simulated communications, news stories, and Situation Room information flow.

The discussion leader for the weekend was Dr. Joe Postell of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

IMG_0094

Abraham Lincoln Program Report

18 teachers from across the country gathered in Springfield, IL, April 1-3, to deepen their knowledge of IMG_0482Abraham Lincoln at our latest Liberty Fund co-sponsored weekend colloquium. Discussion sessions focused on Lincoln’s early public life, his election in 1860, and his handling of the many issues, challenges, and crises associated with sectionalism, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Special emphasis was placed on Lincoln’s keen legal thinking, his deep respect for the traditions of the Founding – especially those embodied in the Declaration of Independence – and the evolution of his ideas and solutions over time.

In addition to the six 90-minute discussion sessions, the group benefitted from visits to the Lincoln Home and his library and museum.

Apply Now – Summer Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites for Teachers

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is proud to offer elite programs to social studies and civic teacher from across the country. TAH.org’s Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites allows teachers to explore in-depth the people and ideas you are asked to teach, at the historic sites that help illuminate the subject. We want to help you increase your expertise and develop the content knowledge needed to educate your students.

Our programs are designed to reignite your passion for American history and government. Take the content knowledge gained at these programs back to your classroom to inspire your students. Not only will you experience historic sites, like Independence Hall or Monticello, but you will also engage in thoughtful conversation by exploring primary documents with your fellow teachers and a historian/political scientist.

TAH.org Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites

Teachers from CA to NY in Green Valley, AZ at the Titan Missile Museum

This summer our colloquia topics will include:

  • Henry Clay and the Crises of Antebellum America (Lexington, KY)
  • Security, Self-Determination, and Empire: The Grand Alliance in WWII (New Orleans, LA)
  • Thomas Jefferson, Revered and Reviled (Charlottesville, VA)
  • The Jefferson Enigma: Founder and Statesman (Charlottesville, VA)
  • The Winning of the West and What is Meant: Western Expansion in the 19th Century(Omaha, NE)
  • A Dream Deeply Rooted: Civil Rights in America (Atlanta, GA)
  • John Adams: Founding Vice President and President (Quincy, MA)
  • John F. Kennedy and the New Frontier (Quincy, MA)
  • James Madison: The Father of the Constitution (Montpelier, VA)

For more information regarding these programs, please click here.​

TAH.org also provides program participants with:

  • Reading materials, to be read prior to the program
  • Up to 8 contact hours, with the option to earn 1 graduate credit
  • Hotel accommodations for the weekend (Friday evening through Sunday morning)
  • Complimentary continental breakfast, lunch, dinner, and refreshments during the program
  • A stipend of $225 to help defray the cost of travel to/from the program site

Are you ready to explore history in the places it was made?

Apply Now

The application deadline is Sunday, February 14, 2016.


We look forward to meeting you at one of our programs. Please direct any questions to our Teacher Programs Team at Info@TAH.org or (419) 289-5411 

 

Program Report: Cold War Weekend Colloquium in Green Valley, AZ

 

IMG_0282

Our teachers, from CA to NY and many parts in between

From November 20-22, 17 teachers from across the country gathered in Green Valley, Arizona, to discuss the Cold War with Dr. John Moser of Ashland University. Discussion sessions focused on the origins of the Cold War, Truman and Containment, Eisenhower’s ‘New Look,’ and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The weekend also included a visit to the Titan Missile Museum, the only place in the world where the public can tour a Titan II missile silo. Teachers took part in a special 2-hour tour that included stops in the command center, crew quarters, and silo itself – to include viewing the missile from beneath, at over 120 feet underground – all the while learning about how the complex operated, the crew worked, and the system functioned as part of America’s defense strategy from the 1960s through the 80s. Tour docents included a former Titan II missile complex commander.

IMG_0287

Titan II ICBM, from 120 underground

Program Report: Truman Weekend in Independence, MO

IMG_0211

Teachers in the White House Decision Center

TAH.org hosted two groups of teachers – a total of 37 – from across the country for a Weekend Colloquium at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, 16-18 October 2015. Focusing on Truman’s actions and challenges during the early years of the Cold War, teachers had an opportunity to study primary documents related to the first years after World War 2, Soviet espionage abroad and in America, and how Truman and his administration managed the impact of the Cold War on the American public.

In addition to the discussion sessions, teachers visited the Truman Library’s White House Decision Center and took part in a documents-based roleplay/simulation about Truman’s desegregation the Armed Forces in 1948, and were then able to tour the museum. Teachers: if ever you have the chance to visit the Truman Library with students, it’s worth the effort. The WDC staff and simulation were excellent – well-organized and entirely primary documents-based, making for a rich and thoughtful learning experience. They have programs for both adults and students.

The picture above  shows teachers in the role of Harry Truman giving a press conference in which the decision to desegregate the military is announced, explained, and defended to the press corps.

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