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November 2009

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Virtual Fieldtrips

Field trips to museums and historic sites are great ways to generate enthusiasm and understanding about history. But budget cuts, logistics, and learning objectives on overload often bump class field trips to the bottom of the priority list. Virtual field trips can offer a low-cost, flexible alternative. Continue reading here. You might also want to explore Tramping Through History: Crafting Individualized Field Trips, a new teaching guide on the NHEC. Photo courtesy of Connor Prairie.

History Content

Website Review: Jews in America

The history of Jews in America from the 17th century to the present is explored in this website through essays, images, video presentations, and interactive timelines. Eight sections focus on particular time periods: 1654–1776; 1777–1829; 1830–1880; 1881–1919; 1920–1939; 1940–1948; 1949–1967; and 1968–present. Each section has short topical essays discussing the world events, politics, and daily life of the period, video and audio presentations, an image gallery, and books for further reading. More here.


Best Practices

Using Primary Sources: Making Sense of Letters and Diaries

In an attic or an online archive, coming across personal correspondence and diaries can open a tantalizing window into past lives. This guide offers an overview of letters and diaries as historical sources and how historians use them; tips on what questions to ask when reading these personal texts; an annotated bibliography; and a guide to finding and using letters and diaries online. Explore here.


Teaching Materials

Lesson Plan Review: Messages of Houses and Their Contents, 1780-1820

Personal possessions help us interpret the past, and this lesson from the Memorial Hall Museum in Massachusetts encourages students to think about the "stuff" that people owned in early America. Students examine photographs of reconstructed rooms, inventories of possessions, and house layouts from different time periods and are asked to make inferences about how changes in common household possessions reflect broader changes in society. Continue reading here.


Teaching Materials

Ask a Master Teacher: National Data

An NHEC user recently asked if there are any current, national data on student levels of understanding and knowledge of American history. Unfortunately, there are not many sources for this kind of data. The National Assessment of Educational Progress in American History (NAEP), referred to as the Nation's Report Card, is administered by an arm of the U.S. Department of Education and periodically assesses what students know and can do in various subject areas. Continue reading here.


TAH Grants

New Video! Lessons Learned: Learning from the Experts

In this video Carol Berkin, professor of history at Baruch College, outlines the lessons she's brought back to her own classroom from her TAH Grant project work with educators. First, the best exchange and learning can happen between formal activities; second, teach to where students are, not to where you wish they were; and third, take advantage of "teachable moments" to explore questions with students. Watch the video here.

Professional Development

Tools for Teachers: Google Docs

Google Docs is a free, web-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation program that allows users to create, share, and collaborate to develop materials. Users can create documents and other presentations, upload existing files or create materials within the Google Docs program. The collaborative feature lends itself to student group projects as well as to faculty and administrative use. Users determine who has access and set editing privileges through invitational emails; files are stored online. Usage requires a Google account. Learn more here.