Monday, April 21, 2014

Georgia Teachers Take the Lead Introducing New Resources

 Edited by Nina Kendall
As education moves into the digital age, the way class can be conducted and work is completed is evolving. It is important as these resources are developed and introduced that teachers are included in the development and implementation program. Two middle school teachers from Henry County have assumed this role in the state of Georgia.  For the past two years Regina Holland, Union Grove Middle and Heather MacKenzie, Eagle’s Landing Middle have worked with the Georgia Humanities Council to promote the use of the New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE), a free, non-fiction, informational source, in 8th grade Georgia Studies classrooms across the state. The NGE is a go-to source for all things Georgia including photographs, video clips, primary sources, and informational articles that cover the people and events listed in our Georgia standards.

             The primary goal of this project has been to provide and introduce lessons and materials that all teachers, could immediately implement in their classrooms. One example is a lesson focused on Andersonville Prison and how it compared to other lesser known Confederate prisons. Another uses a “Circle of Knowledge” strategy to aid students in learning about key figures of the New South era. Later student craft arguments about who had the greatest impact in the New South. Both lessons incorporate the resources found on the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Access Georgia Fast & Free with the NGE!

                Their most recent presentation was at the Georgia Middle School Association Conference, held in Columbus the late February, 2014. This June, Regina and Heather, along with project director Robynn Holland will combine the lessons of this project with those created as part of their Investigating Famous Bloodlines: Following the Paper Trail curriculum in a presentation for teachers held at Hickory Hill, the home of Tom Watson.   The kit is available for freed download.  We certainly are looking forward to their next presentation. Be on the lookout for announcements made by the Georgia Humanities Council for future presentations near you!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Visualizations and More: More Sources for Class from OAH

By Nina Kendall

One of the new trends in the study of history is the use of visualization. Recently we attended Investigating and Teaching United States History through Visual Sources and New Media at Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting (#OAH2014). This was not my first encounter with visualizations. Two years ago, I toured the Spatial History Project at Stanford University. I was impressed with their work and fascinated by how this changed the way people could interact with data.

Visualizations allow us to combine a temporal analysis with a geographical analysis. This opens a new avenue of examination to better understand the sequence and importance of events. One group building visualizations is the Science, Humanities, Arts, Network of Technology Initiatives at the University of Virginia who completed a recent project about Thomas Jefferson. The students extend their project to include economic data like spending and the flow of information (mail). All data used was from primary sources. These kinds of constructivist projects are meaningful for the creator and hold potential for use in the secondary school classroom.

Other options are beginning to emerge. One option is the visualizing of historiographical systems. This is a type of macro history, an analysis of large sets of data to better understand change.  It allows uncharted big data sets to be used as a lens on human condition with tools like the Google Ngram viewer. Historians can now look at much larger range of sources for trends that could support or disprove their thinking. Another is to use a set of images as a secondary source text for analysis. The construction of these narratives should have a clear pedagogical goal that is shared with audience.

I encourage you to check out these tools and products. See how they can help you and your students look at history differently.

Tools to investigate in this field:

Google N-gram viewer

Related Publications:

In Praise of Pattern, Steve Ramsay

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud

Sample Ngram Viewer Data Display
Word: Vietnam
Medium: Books
Time Period: 1950 - 1980

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Notes & Thoughts from Histories of Violence Session, #OAH2014

By Nina Kendall
Historians ask hard questions and search for the answers. They hold the mirror up to humanity and demand that it look itself in the eye and admit the truth, never is this truer than when talking about violence.
I got a chance to learn about the work being done by the Histories of Violence Collective recently. They did a good job of presenting the challenges to completing their research, teaching these topics in the classroom, and presenting their work to the public. This session certainly raised some interesting questions for me to consider as I head back to the classroom.
My Questions:
Who and what in history needs to be demythologized?
What stories and experiences are still being left out of the historical narrative students learn?
How could students be set to investigate the historical record and respond to gaps in the record?
How could I illustrate these gaps at the local level on any topic?
How could memorialization be used to illustrate learning, expand narratives, or expose gaps in the local historical narrative?
Plenty to think about as I plan for the rest of the year.
Here are my notes from this session:
Historical Concerns:
*Remembering and Forgetting
*Memory and Silence
*Ethical Telling
*Violence as a state process
*Creating a new scheme of differences
Instructional Concerns and Developments;
*Teaching without silencing or reiterating victimization.
*New narratives that include these acts as part of the story. 
*Examples of Alternative Texts: lynching postcards, internment photographs
*Focus on teaching context to move beyond how bad is this act to place act
Questions to Consider:
*How does teaching histories of violence in the classroom work?
*What new narratives does this add to US history?
*How can histories of violence serve as a counterweight to liberal progressive history?
History of Violence Instructional Problems:
*Long list of how awful
*Can make some acts undervalued via comparison
*Leads to unethical/desensitized viewing
Imagining a life free of violence is revolutionary.
Witnessing is a form of social empathy.
Sample Assignments:
Violence from a place you have lived.  A narrative surrounding an local history event.
*Public History Project(Scale model of museum/memorial )
*Audio tour/ App to understand the history of violence location
*Teaching Curriculum: examine existing options and improve

*Lost stories of violence
*Acts of violence as moments of progress
*Actors of violence/taught as heroes
*Dependent on visual images and oral histories
*Creating a new part of meaningful American Memory
*Finding Appropriate Sources for Establishing Memory