Muddling through the blogosphere

April 11, 2010
by blogwalker

A Tuskegee Airman Remembers – An interview with George Porter

I have a message on my cell phone  I will never delete.  It’s the voice of Tuskegee Airman George Porter letting me know that he’d be very happy to meet with students in Martin Billings’ 11th grade US History class and share his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman.

Formed in 1942 amid controversy, the Tuskegee Airmen  showed the nation its black citizens were equal in skill and patriotism to their white counterparts. Although George Porter was never a pilot (due to a health issues with high altitudes), he joined the Tuskegee team as a mechanic.

I met George a year ago, when he came to Mr. Billing’s class to join the keynote presenter Alexander Jefferson for a 3-way interactive videoconference. A Google search will bring up a long list of links for both these former Tuskegee Airmen. For an introduction to George, I particularly like the four-minute 2007 New Orleans Times-Picayune interview posted below.

Before, during, and after World World II, George Porter’s story is one of remarkable resiliency and a determination “to be the best you can be…to be even better than your best.” During the 40-minute visit to Mr. Billing’s class (below), George explains racism, segregation, and living through Jim Crow times, which he refused to be defeated by.

This March 2010 presentation and response to students’ questions will provide you with an understanding of George Porter’s commitment to making sure the public, especially young people, understand how eager and willing he and other African Americans were to fight for America, despite a nation’s long running record of treating them as second-class citizens.

I hope you will share George Porter’s story with your colleagues and students. He does not want this chapter of our nation’s history to be forgotten.

March 21, 2010
by blogwalker

Teaching Social Studies – When do we let students in on the “great secret”?

On of the upsides of being a commuter is that I can start my day by listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation. I’m still thinking about Thursday’s topic, Do Your Textbooks Tilt? Neal Conan hosted the show, with New York University history professor Jonathan Zimmerman leading the textbook discussion, and sharing some gems along the way, such as:

  • history is a series of question marks
  • what historians really do is present arguments
  • so when are we going to expose students to the what historians really do? When are we going to let them in on the “great secret.”?..we don’t actually know what happened when talking about events we did not witness.

With Professor Zimmerman’s words on my mind, I paid more attention this week to social studies resources that came into my reader or email this week – and found some excellent ones:

Politics and Civic Literacy for the Digital Generation – Wow! Great resources for teachers, gathered from a number of sites, such as the this challenge-based learning video from the Apple Exchange on what voting is all about to the video below from the YouTube Safety team, Detecting Lies and Staying True:

And if you want to use your phone for keeping current on anything from White House press briefings to C-span’s Podcast of the Week, checkout the Taking It Mobile link.

Smithsonian Education – I’ve been a long-time fan of “our Nation’s attic,” and include their royalty-free, copyright-free photo gallery in my teacher workshops. I re-visited their site this morning after coming across the link in my Edutopia Magazine.  I really like how the Smithsonian has divided the site into easy-to-navigate and inviting mini sites for teachers, students, and families.  The IdeaLabs area for students includes some great annotated slideshows, such as rationing during World War II.

Object of History – but wait…there’s even more from the Smithsonian – Through my subscription to  Thinkfinity, this new resource from the museum came into my email yesterday:

A highly interactive Web site, Object of History, takes middle and high school students behind the scenes with curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to explore six objects from the museum’s collections. Students watch videos, listen to historians and curators and then create their own online exhibition. Resources include videos, interviews, primary sources, virtual artifacts and lesson plans.”

Complete with a teacher guide, a forum, and student and teacher walk-through tutorials, what a great resource for helping students get “ready, set, curate!

Heading off to download 60-Second Civics Podcasting🙂

August 26, 2009
by blogwalker

Links for History-Social Studies

If you’re an intermediate or middle school history-social studies teacher looking for online resource to engage students, checkout these sites:

For a glimpse into ancient times:

  • Winged Sandals – From ABC Arts Online, this site invites students to “Take the tour with Hermes the messenger god, through a magical place filled with awesome gods, daring heroes and fabulous monsters”

For a glimpse into the Middle Ages:

  • Historic Tales Construction Kit – This wonderful digital storytelling tool prompts students to  select among menus of folk (brave and ordinary), buildings, and beasts; add their own text in the colors of their choice; adjust the scale of the items they select; and create an authentic looking Medieval comic strip.
  • Bayeux Tapestry – Starting with Haley’s Comet and ending with the Battle of Hastings, this animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry is a stunning stroll through history!

For an introduction to civic education:

  • Our Courts – On to US History…Kudos to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for her efforts to do something about her concern that “students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation and that civics teachers need better materials and support.”

Know of more great history resources? Please post a comment!

Coming up next…Links for Math…

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