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July 2009

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Summer Reading Recommendations

School's out (well, more or less—excluding professional development, workshops and conferences, summer school, and planning for next year), and more leisure time for reading may be in. Enjoy the first in a series of suggestions from staff at the National History Education Clearinghouse for your summertime "must read" booklist! See the recommendations here

History Content

Website Review: Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls

Get lost in the 2,300 covers of American "dime novels," and their British counterparts, the "penny dreadfuls," archived on this website. In addition, you can explore the full text of nine books, including stories featuring such heroes as Nick Carter, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Deadwood Dick, Fred Fearnot, and Calamity Jane. The site offers "guided tours" with images and essays on print processes and dime novel covers, and a timeline that places the popularity of the dime novel into historical context. Read more here.

Best Practices

Using Primary Sources: Analyzing a Melville Story

Scholars In Action presents case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence. In this case, you can listen to historian Hans Bergmann interpret “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” a short story by Herman Melville that was published in November and December 1853. The story details a copyist in a New York City legal office who refuses to perform any other work asked of him. Learn how this primary source highlights social relations at a time when urbanization and class stratification were changing societal norms. More...

Teaching Materials

Teaching Guide: Reading Picture Book Biographies

Picture book biographies can provide young readers with a great deal of information. Yet without a focus for reading, students often pay attention to interesting details and tidbits—what's been called the "terrific specifics"—rather than the big ideas in history.
"Well-behaved Women [and Men] Seldom Make History: Reading Picture Book Biographies" focuses students' attention on two main ideas that promote historical thinking, including understanding historical context and understanding individual efforts that promoted social change. Continue reading here.


Issues and Research

Research Highlights: Columbus, Exploration, and the Idea of the Flat Earth

Rather than presenting a story of Columbus's journey to his students, Bob Bain (now a professor of History Education at the University of Michigan's School of Education) first elicited student ideas about the voyage and its context. After hearing students recall the standard flat-earth story about Columbus, Bain asked them how they knew what they supposedly knew. What evidence did they have for their Columbus stories? Continue reading this research brief here.


TAH Grants

Project Spotlight: Essential American History

In St. Louis, Missouri, a three-year Teaching American History (TAH) grant, Essential American History, fostered professional development to increase content knowledge and pedagogical skills. Eighth-grade teachers focused on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Lesson plans grew out of study tours with scholars from the Civil War Preservation Trust and scholars from the Center for the Study of the Civil War. During the summer of 2007, teachers traveled to Springfield, Illinois, for work at the Lincoln Library and Museum. More...

Professional Development

Digital Tools: Interactive Whiteboards

What Is It? An interactive whiteboard (sometimes called Smart board or Promethean board after two prominent manufacturers) lets you turn your computer into an interactive chalkboard for presentations and activities. It's a touch-sensitive screen displaying your computer screen, connected through a standard USB plug and a digital projector. You can write and draw on the board—and so can your students—so that lessons engage the entire class. Learn more about interactive whiteboards here.