Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Teaching American History Grant Funded

TRITEC is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a new Teaching American History Grant to our collaborative. The new project, Becoming America - The Defining Role of Immigration, will build upon the Voice Rising Project (2006-2009) by expanding local partnerships and continuing an exploration of immigration's impact on the building of America. The History Department at Suffolk University will continue to be our lead university partner. Teachers from Chelsea Public Schools, Braintree Public Schools, and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School will join the TRITEC school districts of Everett, Malden, and Medford on the new project. Check this blog for the launch of a new project website.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Voices Rising: Helping Students Think Like Historians

On December 4, 2008, teachers at the Madeline English School in Everett, Massachusetts continued their development of document-based lessons to use in their classrooms. These lessons focus on a specific essential question and utilize primary source document(s), helping to bring history to life in the classroom.

Additionally, the questions posed to the students within the lessons are inquiry-based, meaning that students construct their own learning by researching, analyzing, and interpreting documents and other resources to reach conclusions and form opinions.

For example, Mr. Donohue is developing a lesson titled:
Issues and Arguments Surrounding Slavery

The lesson focuses on the economics of Ancient Rome, the American South, and the American North before the Civil War and how each economy impacted laborers (slaves and mill workers). Mr. Donohue’s lesson also explores the justification of slavery and working conditions of the disenfranchised by those in power.

Students are encouraged to explore specific websites, books, and primary source documents such as the Statistics of Lowell Manufacturers (see below). They will use such documents to try to understand the conditions of mill workers in the Northern United States, compare those conditions with those of the slaves in the South and Ancient Rome, and create their own opinions of whether slavery was truly an economic necessity.

The final product will feature podcasts of the students’ findings and opinions.

Because the Voices Rising program includes the school districts of Everett, Malden, and Medford, teachers are given the opportunity to develop lessons and units cooperatively.

Manufacturing Statistics
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Examples of lessons’ guiding questions:

• How did the lives of Native Americans change with the arrival of the colonists?
• What changes occurred on Beacon Hill from the late 1700's-1860 for men, women, children (black and white)?
• What motivated abolitionists’ in the North?
• How did Irish Americans react to the abolitionist movement and the quest for African American Rights?
• What were the characteristics of social equality of the postbellum struggles women faced in 1830-1870?

Teachers will continue to refine their lessons with the guidance of historians at Suffolk University in Boston. As well as providing insight, resources, and general suggestions on the lessons’ topics, the historians’ feedback ensures historical accuracy.

Everyone involved is excited to see the positive impact these document-based lessons have on our students’ understanding and appreciation of history!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Advisory Board Meeting Report

Voices Rising Advisory Board The Voices Rising Project held its first Advisory Board meeting at Suffolk University today. The Advisory Board meets twice a year to hear a status report on the project's outcomes and plan for future activities. Professor Robert Allison, project co-director welcomed the group to Suffolk. TRITEC executive director, Cindy Fiducia, gave a project overview on the project's themes focused on immigrants and disenfranchised groups. She emphasized the project's year three focus on the essential question, How did people in America secure their rights?
Next, Diane Schilder, project evaluator, reviewed the evaluation activities that we are using to assess impact on teacher performance and student achievement. One strong indicator of success was that teachers participating in Voices Rising performed 14 scale points above a comparison group of non-participating teachers. Dr. Schilder also noted a marked increase in teachers' use of primary sources in their classrooms (51% to 86%).
Suffolk University historian Pat ReeveSuffolk historian and Project Coordinator, Pat Reeve, gave an overview of the Summer Institute held from August 18-22, 2008. The group was then treated to a slideshow composed of photographs taken by Robert Simpson during the week-long immersion into American history that ranged from a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail to a day at the U.S.S Constitution Museum.
Voices Rising Summer Institute Slideshow from Robert Simpson on Vimeo.
Molly Laden demonstrates wiki discussion pageNew communication technologies were presented by Molly Laden, Teacher Learning Center Director in Medford. Molly explained our decision to use a wiki to host fall historian seminar content, teacher discussions and workshop materials. The Voices Rising wikispace allows users to easily add, update, and edit content on the site. We will also use the wiki to begin the lesson development process by sharing lesson ideas across districts and posting primary source materials in the form of images and links. The photo above shows an example of the wiki used by teachers to respond to historian prompts on their seminar readings.
Simpson gives update on PBU Builder 2.0Robert Simpson, Teacher Learning Center Director in Malden updated the group on TRITEC's new PBU Builder site used to host American history lessons and provide easy access to district students and teachers. We then transitioned to a Student Response System (SRS) activity based upon primary source content from the grade 3 Project-Based Unit (PBU) The Grass is Always Greener. We acquired the Qwizdom SRS from a state Technology Enhancement Grant. Half of the advisory board responded using their remotes that they had never used a SRS prior to today's meeting. In one multiple choice question, participants were asked to analyze a painting depicting early 19th century farm life. Answers were sent and then displayed as a bar graph on the computer projector. Simpson emphasized how the SRS engages students and allows teachers to make real-time adjustments to instruction. If you're interested in viewing the full SRS activity visit the Voices Rising wiki.
The meeting ended with a brief discussion on the next round of TAH grant funding which would support up to five years.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

After Freedom: Black Boston’s Fight for Civil Rights 1865-1900

On October 7th, 2008, Kerri Greenidge, a historian from Suffolk University in Boston, came to the Madeline English School in Everett, Massachusetts to deliver a content seminar titled After Freedom: Black Boston’s Fight for Civil Rights 1865-1900.

The presentation focused on the struggles of black Bostonians during and after Reconstruction for the right to be recognized as full citizens in the Commonwealth and the regulations, policies and laws that prevented such recognition.

Ms. Greenidge explained that although the 13th Amendment of the Constitution is recognized as the official prohibition of slavery and "involuntary servitude", it resulted in the weakening of the 14th (granting citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States") and 15th (declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.") Amendments.

The following are some examples of the ways in which African Americans continued to be disenfranchised through the weakening of these Amendments:
  • citizenship was not protected by the federal government; it would be determined by the states
  • segregation is not discrimination
  • 'separate but equal' is valid
  • poll taxes and literacy tests would be allowed
In her presentation, Ms. Greenidge also discussed the many contributions of African Americans to combat the consistent and deliberate attempts to deny them the rights and privileges of citizenship:

Booker Taliaferro Washington's (1856-1915) 1895 speech in Atlanta was highlighted as a major turning point in the struggle. In his speech, Washington said, “Cast down your buckets where you are – cast them down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded . . We shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupation of life.”

In that same year, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842-1924), a black Bostonian and leader in the women's suffrage movement stated, “Our women’s movement is woman’s movement in that it is led and directed by women for the good of women and men, for the benefit of all humanity . . . We are women, American women, as intensely interested in all that pertains to us as such as all other American women. . .”

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) from Great Barrington, Massachusetts is also noted as an early leader in the 20th century African American protest movement. Receiving his PhD. from Harvard University in 1895, he was an activist for persons of African descent in the United States and abroad.

Ms. Greenidge delivered a riveting and informative presentation that shed light on the many struggles and contributions of African Americans throughout the latter part of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

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