The end of May marks the beginning of the Siege of Vicksburg, a campaign against the pivotal port city of Mississippi that would ultimately decide the fate of the war. The Library of Congress houses numerous documents pertinent to teaching the Civil War. Today, they highlight the Vicksburg Daily Citizen’s Final Edition. Printed on the back of wallpaper, the piece highlights the defiant and innovative spirit of Confederates. Vicksburg would fall on July 4, 1863 after the citizens of the town suffered wide spread starvation, disease, and regular shelling from the Union Army.
Do we need another blog about social studies? I mean, there's got to be hundreds, maybe thousands of blogs that talk about social studies. And almost all of them are very good.
I'm a little biased, of course. I like this one. It's been around since January 2008 and so I'm kind of invested. But I do think there is room for another social studies blog - the more conversations we have about what we do and how we do it the better.
Today marks the anniversary of the landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education. On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of races for education under the “separate but equal” clause was unconstitutional. The case would begin the unwinding of separate but equal institutions throughout the country (a process that would take decades). In honor of the 59th anniversary, here are a great list of resources for teaching this topic:
Library of Congress - The Library of Congress highlights Brown v. Board of Education along with a series of other landmark cases, arguments, studies, etc on the issue of Civil Rights in American history. You can explore the LOC online as well as in person.
Ourdocuments.org - Explore high resolution images of the Brown decision as well as other documents related to Civil Rights and the landmark Supreme Court decision.
Separate is Not Equal: Smithsonian Institution - the Smithsonian commemorates the landmark case with an in depth online exhibit that explore segregation in the United States.
National Archives - The National Archives hosts high resolution images of landmark papers, including the Supreme Court deciding and dissenting opinion on the Brown v. Board of Education case.
The Library of Congress offers a variety of classroom materials as well as professional development to help teachers use their free materials effectively in their classroom. You can even organize and search material based on Common Core or State requirements. The Library of Congress contains a repository of primary resources in a variety of media (texts, images, audio, video, etc). Their professional development includes funded trips to the library to work at your own pace, free modules. Be sure to check out the Library of Congress’s Resources for Teachers.
If you've read any news in the past day, you've seen reports regarding cannibalism in colonial Jamestown. It was known prior that the colonists had undergone a number of starvation years where they were forced to eat foods that they wouldn't normally. The trash pits from the sites hold the remains of animals who aren't normally butchered, including horses, cats, dogs, rats and snakes.
The British Museum, in conjunction with its exhibit on Pompeii and Herculaneum, has released an iOS App for the iPhone ($2.99) and the iPad ($5.99). The application allows users to explores the cities via interactive maps, view objects in high resolution and contextual detail, an in depth timeline, and the aftermath of the eruption (including the city’s later discovery and excavation). The application draws from archaeological discoveries, the remains at the cite, historical sources (specifically the account of Pliny the Younger).
Right now, the application is limited to iOS devices but an Android version is planned to be released in May 2013.
For more information on the exhibit and its resources, be sure to check out the British Museum’s online exhibition website.
Menachem Bodern (born Eli Gottesman in the Ukraine) left Auchwitz on January 27, 1945 with an adopted father who took him to Israel. Now 73 years old, the survivor of the Third Reich’s most notorious death camp has turned to Facebook in the hopes of finding out what happened to his twin brother, Jeno Gottesman.
Equipped only with his faded Auschwitz ID number (A7733) and limited Nazi records, Menachem has sought assistance from Social Media to finally learn the fate of his identical twin brother. The search has turned up some promising but also disturbing news. Both boys were subject to twin testing by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele (a fate that Menachem fortunately does not remember). Additionally, he learned that he had a younger brother that died at Auschwitz along with their father. However, amongst the sad news there is also a ray of hope, that his brother Jeno was officially declared healthy and alive by medical staff at Auschwitz on February 9, 1945.
I am actually quite relieved that today I do not have to teach. Not because I don’t love my students and spending time with them, but because spending April 1st in a classroom can be a test of the most patient individual. April 1, colloquially referred to as April Fool’s Day, has historically been a day replete with pranks (harmless, annoying, and in some cases threatening). Pranking, however, has a long history. The Romans celebrated feasts to the goddess Cybele called Hilariae at the end of March. These festivals included pranking, telling jokes, revering rolls, etc. A common Medieval festival in April was the “Feast of Fools” (or other similar names). These were days of pranks, jokes, and hoaxes. Many cultures have a celebration of pranking and joking. Humor is a universal human experience.
If you teach Social Studies or History and want to incorporate more technology into your curriculum, check out “Teaching History with Technology.” The site includes many free and paid resources. Every week, they highlight a tool in their “New Resource of the Week” section. It contains a variety of lesson plans on various subjects, US and World History, AP Subjects, Geography, and more. They even provide ways for educators to expand on a favorite of multimedia incorporation: the PowerPoint presentation in their “Presentations and Multimedia” section. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Visit “Teaching History with Technology” to explore further.
This quarter’s Gilder Lehrman’s “History Now” series features the historical role of first ladies in American politics. The issue, “First Ladies’ Contributions to Political Issues and the National Welfare” highlights the roles of the President’s spouse from Martha Washington all the way to Betty Ford. It explores their personalities, political temperament, social role, and even controversial status.
In addition to these fascinating articles, they include two lesson plans that help educators present the material in alliance with the common core as well as an interactive map of their birth places. Gilder Lehrman provides a plethora of resources for teachers of American History.