Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Preparing for the Freedom Summer: National Youth Summit

By Nina Kendall
Just over a week from now the National Museum of American History will host the National Youth Summit on Freedom Summer at 12 pm EST on 2/5/2014 This is an ongoing collaboration among the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Affiliations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and PBS's American Experience and the fourth in a series since 2010. Teachers can have their students participate from anywhere across the country. A simple registration is all that is requested. At this point more than 6,000 students are expected to participate.

This is a unique opportunity to use technology to discuss Freedom Summer and the meaning of citizenship with participants in the Civil Rights Movement, other students, and modern activists. Students can submit questions for the summit and hear the responses from those involved. They can gain a sense of common national concerns and the continuing importance of an active citizenry.

While exciting, the National Youth Summit can pose technological and planning challenges for schools. It will certainly pose some challenges in my school. In anticipation of these challenges, I attended the webinar hosted by Naomi Coquillon of the Smithsonian today on how to participate in the Freedom Summer: National Youth Summit. Ms. Coquillon offered advice on how to prepare for and participate in the summit that will help make it more meaningful in my school. The Smithsonian has compiled teacher resources for each phase of participation found here. The Conversation Kit provided would guide students and teachers through each part and help you become familiar with the moderators and participants. You can prepare for the Summit by reading about Freedom Summer or viewing a short clip of Diane Nash from a previous summit. Post-summit activities are provided as well including the option of using Pixton to create graphic novel style written works.

Advice about webcast participation was available as well. The webcast can be streamed live and will be archived as well. If you are lucky enough to be in a 1:1 environment students can participate from individual devices.  At my school we will be watching as a group via projector. It was recommended that at least one computer be available for interaction. Though questions can be submitted in advance and tweeted as well using the #freedomsummer. I will have a laptop set up for students to use and allow them to use their own personal devices if they have them.

I think this will be an exciting event for students and a chance for them to build a personal connection with history. I have my plans in the works. Hopefully this will help get you a step closer.

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