Tag Archives: America

Free Library of Congress eBooks for students

These are great resources!

History Tech

As more and more schools are moving away from paper textbooks and materials, teachers are working to answer the obvious question:

where can I find digital resources appropriate for kids?

If you and your building is using Mac computers or IOS devices such as iPads or iPods, at least part of the answer is the Library of Congress. The folks over there recently released six free iBooks that can be quickly downloaded and are perfect for having students interact with primary source evidence.

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Based on the Library’s Primary Source Sets, these new iBooks have built-in interactive tools that let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis.

(Aren’t an Apple school? The LOC is still an awesome place to find online…

View original post 254 more words

NYT – Interactive Map of Poverty in the United States

SNAPThe New York Times has published a powerful interactive map of poverty in the United states. The nation-wide map provides color coded information county-by-county. Additionally for highly urban areas, such as New York City and Los Angeles, it provides even more detailed and specialized information.

The map is generated from data collected from the census bureau. The Poverty Threshold in America in 2012 was $11,945 for an individual under 65 and $23,283 for a family of four.

To examine the interactive map, check out the map here.

Gilder Lehrman’s First Ladies Series, Lesson Plans & Interactive Map

Eleanor_Roosevelt_portrait_1933This 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.

Texas Drought Uncovers Slave Cemetery

The record dry summer in Texas has uncovered a large slave graveyard in Corsicana, Texas. Archaeologist Alan Skinner of AR Consultants has uncovered at least twenty graves of African Americans, dating to the 19th century.

Archaeologists are currently working with government officials to determine the proper steps to further analyze and ultimately preserve the cemetery. To learn more about the finds, see the article in the Athens Review.

My Evening with David McCullough

Recently, my friend who works at the World Affairs Council in Dallas invited me to a talk by the author David McCullough. McCullough, the writer of such books as John Adams and 1776, is here in the Lone Star state promoting his new book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. His new work explores the lives of 18th and 19th century Americans living and studying in Paris.

The World Affairs Council was exceptionally generous and comped me and my colleagues at Trinity Valley School five tickets to watch Mr. McCullough talk about his research and new book. You can view a great website that includes the several talks by the author and interactive timelines here.

David McCullough’s talk was vivid and engaging. He used no visual aids and focused on the main themes of the book and highlighted his primary points. Most inspiring, he spoke about the role of educator’s in American Society – that they are important for shaping the future of our country. He went so far to say that his new book is primarily about teachers, as all of its subjects returned to the United States and taught (in some capacity or another, formally and informally). Most pointedly, he began his talk by saying:

“I think our teachers are the most important people in our society and yes they should be paid more and given a lot more of our attention, appreciation, and help. This country was founded on a belief in education.”

He then quoted Thomas Jefferson saying:

“No nation has been permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

He then began to discuss the core topic of his book, the early relationship between France and the birth of America. Many Americans forget the intimate and joined relationship that nascent America shared with France, preferring to focus more on our connection with Great Britain. However, as McCullough pointed out:

  • Our capital city was designed by French-born architect and civil engineer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant
  • The Louisiana Purchase allowed America to, in an instance, more than double in size
  • The Statue of Liberty was given as a gift to the American people by the Republic of France
  • Our maps and geographical points often are marked with French Names (New Orleans, Marseille, Baton Rouge, Paris, etc).
  • More American servicemen are buried in France than they are in any other country, save the United States.

He highlighted the academic expertise and renown of French Universities, especially in the 19th century when they were the pinnacle of the West. Most specifically La Sarbonne, the prominent academic institute of art and science, and the Ecole de Médecine (the preeminent Medical School in the World). At this time, the French government provided University education for free (even to ‘foreigners’), they only needed to pay their transportation to France (which was expensive, long, uncomfortable, and dangerous) as well as room and board.

He was also quick to point out that the Americans living in France at this time were not expatriates living away from their country due to some form of disconnect or frustration at their home country. In fact, most of these Americans were incredibly patriotic and wanted to bring their new-found knowledge and wisdom back to their own country – which they all ultimately did.

He proceeded to highlight some of the lives that he explored in the book. What struck me was who he chose and why. He intentionally largely avoided politicians and generals (although not entirely) as he pointed out that history is made by more than just politics and war. He focused primarily on artists, scientists, inventors, and philosophic statesmen (both men and women). He pointed out that the arts are as (or more) significant in shaping a culture than specific events, indicating the great cultures of the past whose history we know very little about but whose art still graces the walls of our museums. He quoted President Kennedy with these words inscribed in the wall of the Kennedy Center,

“This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor”

He finished up his talk emphasizing the importance of being globally aware citizens and incorporating broader perspectives and experiences in the classroom. We live in a connected world and finances and time are no longer the impediments they once were. If we are to stay a tour de force in the world, we cannot ignore our relationship and kinship with the world around us.