Sunday, September 30, 2007

Takaki Chapter 5

This past Friday I sat in on a workshop given by Mary McFarland, who focused on "slowing down teaching" to help students reach deep understanding. She focused heavily on the work of Wineburg during the workshop and modeled several exercises she felt would work well with students.

As I read both Wineburg and Takaki I thought a lot about her presentation and some of my questions about it, questions I also had as I did the readings. Though I can understand the importance for deep understanding, for doing more than just a surface reading of the textbook to help students gain knowledge, I wondered if doing this does help students prepare for standardized tests, test that don't care if you can do analysis but do care if you can spout off facts and dates.

I was very interested in the analysis of the Lincoln writings especially in the analysis by Ellen where she focused on Lincoln's words in light of the fact that he was campaigning for election, even bringing that idea to the letter to Mary Speed. For one lesson idea I would like to have the students read some additional Lincoln materials from the Lincoln Papers website and react to them as soon as they finished reading them. I'd like for the students to read some of his writing and speeches after he was elected president and see if they are consistent with what he said on the campaign trail.

As an extra credit assignment I would also like for them to look at the current presidential race and perhaps read some of the comments from the debate for a specific candidate and then go find readings from prior to the campaign to see if they are different or similar.

As I read chapter five in Wineburg I thought of a lesson I teach regularly called Emblematic Illustrations where we look at how African Americans were perceived during and after the Civil War. I would love to do this kind of exercise with students to see how they would react to some of the images from the Paris Exposition as well as some images from the Civil War Photograph Collection. I think it would be interesting to see and hear some of comments of the students as they looked at the images and what information they provide about the lives and experiences of African-Americans during and after the Civil War.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Curriculum Plan Part 1

Preparing for May Madness
AP American History
Grade 11
10 lessons in 50 minute classes

I have now served as a judge in Cosby Hunt’s May Madness class for two years. (To learn more about May Madness you can read an article Cosby wrote for the magazine Social Education in September 2004. I have seen many excellent debaters who worked to prove who had the most influence in history but have yet to see student show high quality skills in research. In addition though the lesson asks that students use primary sources I have seen few if any students use them. I have asked Cosby if I can come in and introduce the students to online resources and he has expressed interest. This is how I would get the students involved if I could actually have 10 class periods to help the students prepare for May Madness.

Enduring Understanding: Understanding the purpose and importance of doing research and performing other preparation tasks for the debate. Understanding that successful research and preparation provides the foundation for success when participating in debates.

After completing this unit students will:

Be able to define, locate and analyze primary sources.
Know what archives are and the procedures to follow when using archival resources.
Know the difference between primary and secondary sources and why both are needed when doing research.
Be able to locate resources online and be able to analyze them for quality, accuracy and reliability.
Understand what a debate is, the rules for a debate and how to prepare effectively to participate in a debate.

Essential Questions:

Why must we do research to be effective in debates?
What are primary sources and how can researchers locate them?
What are secondary sources and why are they important in research?
How can researchers locate resources that are reliable?
What is a debate?
What are the rules of a debate?
What can one do to insure that they are successful in a debate?

Prior to start of lessons students will be asked if they have done research before, what classes did they have to do research for, what product (paper, presentation, exhibit for example) did they have to produce to show the research they had done and how many students have participated in debates.

The teacher will have a rubric to show how the student did during the debate and how effectively they used the material during the debate.

Students will be asked to supply an annotated bibliography discussing the sources used, where the sources was located, how the source was used when preparing for the debate and why the source was important in the research process.

Students will be given a test using a primary source and will have to analyze it. The test will also include information on how to analyze resources used in research be it on or offline.

During each class students will be asked questions relating to the previous class to see if students have retained information or if review is required.

The sequence starts with the introduction of the debate and the requirements for the debate including the development of an annotated bibliography. Then it moves forward into discussions on how to locate primary and secondary sources then how to locate and evaluate web resources and then ends with a focus on the debate itself and how to prepare for the debate.

The classes will be interactive with lots of time for discussion and for practicing what has been learned in class. Students will be able to practice what they have learned in their research, in homework assignments and eventually in the actual debate.

This class will allow students to use what they have learned about American history to put the person they are debating about in context of the time period where they lived and showing how this person shaped or changed the United States or pushed events in a different way. Students would be able to show how society was different because this person lived or what would have happened had they not lived. Students will need to do research when in college or in their professional lives. They should know the basics of doing research in an archives, in a library and online. In terms of the debate students need to learn how to defend their point of view in a calm, logical manner using information to back up their beliefs. The skills learned in this class will help them become more effective in representing their points of view and in speaking with and in front of others.

Students may work together to share ideas, support each other while doing research or by letting the teacher and their colleagues know of problems they may be having so that the group can brainstorm ideas and develop suggestions that will help create solutions or provide ideas for other avenues of research.

In terms of differentiation students will be given homework assignments to complete that the teacher can review to make sure students are on the right path. The teacher can also listen to class discussion and questions to see where there are problems and can work quickly to answer questions and help students get the information they need to complete the assignment.

Daily classes:

Day 1

Student will be told about May Madness, asked to select a person they would like to debate about and told that they will also be given another person to debate based on my list of suggestions. They will be informed that debates will start two weeks from today and that they will need to do research to learn more about the people they need to debate. They will be given a handout detailing what they need to do as part of the May Madness assignment. Student will learn that during the next class periods they will learn about debating and how to do research effectively.

Students will be asked about their experience with debates and with doing research. They will be asked if they have used primary sources in their research.

Students will be lead through the mindwalk exercise. When they complete the mind walk they will be given a definition of what a primary source is and what primary sources they may have in their homes. Students will be given the information about primary sources as a handout.

Homework is to come up with a person they want to defend in May Madness

Day 2

Students will review what a primary source is. Then we will follow the exercises presented with the mindwalk exercise. Students will discuss why primary sources are important parts of research. Students will then be given a KWL chart and an image to analyze. If time permits students will also be asked to analyze a sound recording. If need the lyrics are available.

For homework students will be given a KWL chart and another item and will be asked to analyze that particular item.

Day 3

Students will turn in and discuss homework item to show what they have learned about primary source analysis. The teacher will talk about the item and indicate it is from an archives. Students will be asked to say what an archives is. Definitions can found at the National Archives and Records Administration and the Society of American Archivists websites. Ask if material found in archives are considered primary sources?

Students will be asked if they have done research in libraries. They will be asked about the procedures they used when going to the library (using online catalog, going to shelves to look for books, being able to check out books and take them home). They will be asked if they have done research in archives. If not teacher will provide information about the differences between libraries and archives. Good starting places for information can be found at Kennesaw State University and the New England Archivists website. They will be told about the procedures one must use when using archives. Students will be reminded about the field trip in the next class where they will visit the Washingtoniana Division at the DC Public Library and meet the archivist there.

Students will be given an assignment to complete while at Washingtoniana (will work with staff there to make sure students have access to resources and will be able to complete the assignment with a minimum of discomfort to the staff). Students will also be given the names of the people to research for May Madness.

Day 4

Students will travel to DCPL’s Washingtoniana Division. They will have a tour of the archives and meet with the archivist. They will have the opportunity to work with archival collections.

If possible students will also be given a tour of the MLK Library and information about using other resources at DCPL.

Day 5

Teacher will debrief visit to archives and review assignment completed during visit to archival repository.
Teacher will review information about primary sources and discuss the positives and negatives of using primary sources. Students will discuss the issue of bias and point of view in primary sources and asked how to deal with the issue of bias in primary sources. Teacher will suggest the use of secondary sources in research. Students will be asked to define secondary sources and asked to provide a list of items that are considered secondary sources. Definitions can be found on the Teachers Page and the National History Day website. Students will be asked if some of the items they listed could be primary sources (such as a person’s autobiography or a newspaper article written at the time of an event). Students will be asked how they can find secondary sources. The school librarian will come in to to discuss how to use the library and to supplement what they heard during tour of DCPL resources outside of Washingtoniana. Students will be reminded that they must do an annotated bibliography of resources they use for May Madness and that it must include at least two primary and 10 secondary sources.

Homework will be to start doing research on their May Madness person and to bring in an annotated list of three resources they found. Extra Credit will be given to students who take a tour of the Public Vaults exhibit at the National Archives and Records Administration noting some of the archival materials they saw and their impression of the exhibit.

Day 6

Teacher will collect annotated bibliographies and extra credit assignment. Students will be asked about their research activities and about any questions they have about the research process. Students will then learn about web resources they can use to locate primary sources. This will be more of a tour of websites from places including the Library of Congress (including the list of primary source links and links to other resources), National Archives and Records Administration, Smithsonian, National History Day, Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, History Matters, and Gilder-Lehrman. Students will discuss the resources they can use to look for other websites and what to look for when first visiting a website and how to get comfortable searching a website. Students will be given a list of web resources to use. If possible this class would be done in the computer lab with time given at the end for students to do research using these sites.

Homework is to continue research and to visit one of the websites shown in class and locate a resource they might use in their project.

Day 7

Students will be given an opportunity to ask questions about their research up to this point and about the previous class and the web resources. They will be asked if they have used the web to do research before and what they have learned about using the web for research. They will be asked if they know the difference between Google, Yahoo,, and Dogpile and how they handle searching. Students will learn about how these search engines handle searches. They will also be shown Kartoo another kind of search engine. They will then be given the Left Handed Whopper press release from Burger King. This will lead to a discussion of how to analyze websites to make sure they are getting high quality information that is reliable.
Students will be given a handout with information on how to analyze a website.

For homework students will be given the paper text of a website and asked to analyze it to determine if it is a valid website.

Day 8

Students will be asked if the website they are given is valid and how they determined if it were valid.

Class will focus on bringing the research process to a close. Teacher will ask how students are doing with their research and what problems they are having. Class will focus on looking at ways to make sure they are getting the information they need to answer the primary debate question and how to make sure they are getting a variety of sources. Students will list questions they will need to answer about the person they are working on. If possible part of this class will take place in the computer lab or library to allow students time to work on their research with the teacher and librarian present. At end of class teacher will provide list of questions students should make sure they can answer about their person.

Homework: Students to continue research and check to make sure they are answering the questions listed on the handout. Ask students to read handout on debating.

Day 9

Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about research. Students will be asked what a debate is and what the rules in a normal debate. The teacher will hand out the rules and structure of the May Madness debate

The teacher and another colleague will model a debate and students will be asked to take notes of what they saw that was good and bad and what followed the rules and what didn’t

At end of class students will be given the brackets for the first round of May Madness and to start looking for information on their opponents.

Day 10

Students will be asked if they have questions on the debate process.

They will be asked to think about the debate they saw the day before and how the teachers dealt with the questions they were asked about the person they were debating for. The students will be asked how they can prepare for the question and answer session and how they can expose their opponent’s weaknesses in knowledge. Students will also learn how to effectively deal with the judges that will be watching them and how to appeal to them.

For homework Students should finish annotated bibliography and bring it to class on Monday. They should also be ready to debate on Monday having completed their research.

Teaching Chapter 4 of Takaki

As I am writing this I am reflecting on some of the discussions I've had over the past few weeks about Native American issues. I thought about the exhibit I saw about Chief Wahoo at the Western Reserve Historical Society and about the book I got my husband (who was actually in Cleveland last night watching the Indians lose) called Louis Sockalexis: The First Cleveland Indian. Sockalexis actually played for the Cleveland Spiders Baseball team and some people think the name Indians was chosen to honor him. I also reflected on the the discussion James and I had when leaving class last week and I explained to him my frustration with Miami changing the name of its mascot from the Redskins to the Redhawks (the Miami Indian tradition was a big part of our school and the mascot was trained by the Miami Indian tribe to do the actual dances used by the tribe and then trained to go out into the schools and talk about the Miami Indians). It was interesting to think about how Native Americans were treated by those who immigrated to America and how today we are focusing on the heritage of Native Americans and how that heritage may have been lost because of the actions of the leaders of our then new nation.

While I'm thinking about it I'd like to share one of my favorite maps in the collection. It is a map of the Americas from 1562. There is also commentary about the map written by John Hebert, the head of the Geography and Map Division. We've talked some about how the English thought of the Native Americans as savages. This map provides an excellent illustration of some of the myths and stereotypes that people of this time had about the Atlantic Ocean and the people in the Americas. I often use this map to talk about how American Memory doesn't censor history (look at the area around Brazil to see an example) and why it's a really good idea to look at the materials you plan to use before you use them with your students and get an unexpected surprise.

In terms of the lesson I would want to have the students look at the map of Indian Migration (click on the globe to access the map). I would want them to compare it to one of the other immigrant groups shown on the feature and get their opinions.

Next I would want to have the students look at the treaties and maps of the land covered by these treaties. A Century of Lawmaking has information on how to find the treaties and links to the maps . This would allow the students to see some the lands involved and where various tribes before they were forced off of their land. It might also be interesting to show a map where the Indian Reservations were located as of 1923 and then another map from the National Atlas of the United States documenting where Native Americans lived in 1970.

I would also show students some of the Railroad Maps to show where the lines ran. I would like to also compare that map to one documenting where the Plains Indians lived. There are some in the Map collections with one example shown here

I would also ask students to think about the influence of the English in the displacement of the Indians and see if they can see connections to the original treatment of the Indians when the English first arrived in the Americas. Is it possible that the roots of the displacement and the ways that the Native Americans were treated come from the English and their belief that the Indians were savages may play a role in how these groups were treated? Again I might have the students reflect back on my question of a couple of weeks ago where I asked what would have happened if the English (and the other explorers) had not come to the Americas.

Studying Takaki

In her comments of my blog Dr. Lawrence asked me why I read Takaki like a novel but read Stiggins and Wineberg (and the articles) with a pen in hand. I read Takaki looking for things that I already know and use that previous knowledge to guide my reading. I also read Takaki thinking about what resources in American Memory or other parts of the Library's website relate to what I'm reading and how I would teach it to students. For example as I read the section on the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears I thought about a young women who used the Trail of Tears as the basis of her performance for the DC competition for National History Day. She was so angry in her performance and in her process paper noted that she still hated Andrew Jackson for uprooting the Indians. As I read Takaki I could better understand her hatred of Jackson though I wondered why she did not mention the landowners and the people that came in and didn't allow the Cherokee to take their belongings when they were evicted from their lands.

On the other hand Wineberg and Stigins have new information that I have not been exposed to and I use a pen to write questions or highlight a few things that I want to remember or think are interesting.

When I do my readind, I sit at my dining room table, grab a pen and start to read. This week as a I read Takaki I actually wrote on a separate piece of paper what resources I would use for teaching and an idea for a question I would want to ask students as part of a class assignment.

Part of my studying also takes place at work the next day. I find that if I discuss what I've read I will retain it better. So I talk to my colleagues (all of whom are former teachers) and they often tie what I've read to experiences in the classroom or experiences at work. In terms of Takaki one of my colleagues has a very activist husband who leads a very politically active church and often quotes civil rights leaders and historians in his blog. She will talk to me about some of her experiences with her husband and some of the reading he has done which also helps reinforce what I learned in my reading.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Learning Styles Entry 2

Sunday afternoon and evening reading between football games (Ravens win a nail-bitter while Cleveland and Cincinnati exchanged their footballs for basketballs for what must be one of the highest scoring games ever). My spouse (who is from the Cleveland suburbs) noted that in the old days if the Cleveland Cavilers scored 51 points there would be celebrations throughout the city (not so now that Lebron had come to town).

I am finding myself starting to use some of my old skills again. As I was reading this afternoon I found myself thinking of SQ3R and starting to apply some of the steps again. It really helps me focus on what I am reading. I also with the Stiggins book did use the pen to highlight some important points and note questions that I wanted to be able to answer when I was reading.

Takaki is a bit different for me. I am still reading it more like a novel and less like a text book. I find myself using a lot of previous knowledge and relating it to what I am reading and also thinking about some things that I am seeing for the first time as I complete my reading. I am also still finding some things that push buttons for me but I am less frustrated this week than I was after reading chapter one.

Assignment 2

It's interesting that sometimes different parts of your life converge. This happened this past Friday. We were waiting for a staff member in Geography and Maps to start her tour for a group of middle school students when John Hebert, the head of the Geography and Maps, came out to say hello. He is a very strong proponent of teachers using maps in the classroom and has done a number of presentations for our workshops. One of my favorite sayings of his is that maps can show us where something took place and why it took place there and the role that the land played in a particular event.

We started chatting with him and he started talking about the importance of looking at the map and the point of view it provides. He noted that maps are often created as publicity items and that often panoramic maps (you can see examples on our Panoramic Maps website were done to highlight the number of churches or fancy homes in a particular town. I remembered another map that one of his colleagues regularly uses in teacher workshops of Virginia that instead of being oriented with north at the top it is oriented with west at the top to indicate that England now owns Virginia and the land extends to the opposite coast. John also talked about the fact that many of the maps we have of the United States were done by the English and they ignore the points of view of the other countries that were stakeholders in the new United States. He told us they just obtained a map that documented the Louisiana territory and noted that Jefferson did not have a map of the territory (there was actually no map, only a description) and that there were conflicts on how far the land went. Jefferson originally suggested the territory went into Florida which was technically Spanish territory. When he talked about he English-centric maps I was taken back to Takaki and the focus on England to the exclusion of the other European countries and also thought about the discussion about the various other countries that did exploration. I was so focused in on the English that I never thought about the other explorers from other countries that were out learning about their world.

When I saw the chapter was about slavery I was all set to highlight our African American collections (many of which focus on during and after the Civil War) but when I saw the focus was on early America and the change from indentured servitude to slavery I had to rethink what I would do and how I would teach the students.

I really would want to be working with the English teacher in my school if I were teaching with this book because I would want the students to do reading and analysis of The Tempest while also reading Takaki. I think there are some excellent opportuntites for collaboration and comparison and contract between Caliban and the natives and how the English treated the Irish and the Africans kidnapped for servitude and eventually slavery. I might also ask the English teacher to show some of Phyllis Wheatley's poetry and have the English teacher focus on the meanings of the poems while I focused on what was going on with Wheatley and other Africans at the time.

As a warm up I would probably ask the students to define indentured servants and slaves and then talk about the differences. I would also want to ask them why eventually those indentured servants that were white were eventually allowed to become free while eventually those were black were kept in servitude for life. I'd like to have the students look at page 56 where Christian Miller was severely punished and forced into additional seven years of service after running away and why Emmanuel was forced to remain a slave. I would also like to have the students look at some of the writings of Jefferson and ask why he had such conflicted feelings about slavery. I might also bring up Sally Hemmings depending on the group of students I was working with and ask if his relationship with her might have played a role in his conflict about slavery.

I would also like to use the idea of looking for the overarching point of the chapter with the students. What do they think Takaki was trying to say in this chapter and what would he like the readers to learn from reading this chapter.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Assignment 1

In college I was the highlighter queen. Pages would end up full of green (or pink or blue or yellow) as I highlighted like crazy. Later when I worked in a study skills center and eventually taught an effective study skills course I learned more effective ways to study where I learned to limit the use of the highlighter. Eventually I stopped using a pen or highlighter all together when I read.

Because I read very quickly (often skimming and reading topic and end sentences of paragraphs and ignoring the rest of the text) I often use a piece of paper or ruler to slow myself down when I have to read something for a test or something I need to remember or analyze. When reading the two articles I forced myself to read with a pen which I used to write questions and comments in the margin. When reading Takaki I read it as if I were reading a novel without a pen or highlighter.

In terms of Takaki the thought that I took away from reading the book was that the world would have been better off had the Europeans stayed in Europe and not gone off exploring. I found it a very frustrating read and when I talked to my husband about what I read he asked me if this book would be used in a typical high school social studies or American History class. I thought it might not be used especially in more conservative school districts especially those that disagree with the idea of encouraging the study of a multicultural America or world.

I compared a lot of Takaki to what I know about those who explored the Americas and the information I know about the early Americans and the impact on the cultures already living here. I will admit to finding Takaki a bit difficult to digest. His comparisons to fiction books and plays (like the Tempest) are interesting but I wonder why his opinions were so one-sided? Were the Europeans that bad???

As I read the assignment that came to my mind was to have students write what they think would have happened to the world had the explorers not come to the Americas and Africa. What would have happened to the people and the culture? Would we have the technology we have today? the poverty? the conflicts? I would then want them to do library research to see if they could prove the information in their assignments and possibly look at the research done on the cultures that were visited and see what these groups had created before the explorers came to their lands.

I might also see if I could collaborate with the English teacher and have the students read the Tempest at the same time as they were reading this chapter. I would have them show the comparison and contrast of the explorers to the characters in the Tempest, moving beyond what is shown in the Takasi book.

I would have the students look at items such as the Huexotzinco Codex, material from the Kislak and the World Treasures exhibits to document the cultures of the groups that were changed by the impact of the explorers.

About me

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended public schools there. Once I graduated from Western High School (one of the few single sex public schools in the United States) I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and received a BS in Public Administration and Public Personnel Management but realized that I didn't want to work in personnel. I went back to Miami and got my MS in College Student Personnel Services, a degree that gives one the skills to do academic and career counseling, run a financial aid office, work in admissions or run a dorm. Though after completing my MS I really wanted to go into career counseling I ended up running a dorm at SUNY Farmingdale and later doing academic counseling at SUNY Stony Brook. I eventually realized that I wasn't happy and needed a new direction. After using some of my counseling skills on myself I went to Long Island University where I got my MLS in College and University Libraries. I changed jobs at Stony Brook and ended up in their Special Collections and Archives section. In addition to helping run the archives I began to work the main reference desk and also helped teach students library skills. I really enjoyed working with archives and eventually became active in several archival professional organizations.

I eventually moved back to Maryland where I helped start a library and archives at the NAACP national headquarters. After a brief detour back into college librarianship at Marymount University, I became the archivist at the Washingtoniana Division of the DCPL. I left there to start the National Equal Justice Library Archives which was housed at the WCL for a few years (it's now at Georgetown Law) but left there to go to the Library of Congress. My original job at LC was to introduce people from around the world to the American Memory online collections and answer reference questions online. The mission of our unit was changed and we began to focus on the needs of teachers and I suddenly found myself teaching teachers how to search the collections and use them in the classroom. Eventually our unit was split into two pieces and I found myself with what was now called the Digital Reference Team. We handled questions about the online resources of the Library of Congress and did video-conferences and other programs for groups interested in learning more about our resources. I still had a pretty strong connection with the other half of our of our former team, known as the Educational Outreach team, which still focused on the needs of teachers. Eventually I was transferred full time to Educational Outreach and I've worked there for two years.

Within Educational Outreach I coordinator the large majority of in-house programming and workshops for teachers. This includes our summer teacher institutes and any visits from teachers not involved in our Teaching With Primary Sources Program. I am also the reference librarian for the Teachers Page and I handle error reports for America's Library. It's an interesting job but after working with librarians and archivists for so many years I've had to learn a whole new language and set of skills.

This is my second education class and I'll be interested to continue learning more about the needs of teachers and what teachers need to be effective in the classroom.