Emerging America: Teaching and Learning American History
Emerging America is the result of two three-year grants. The intention of both grant projects was and remains increasing educator knowledge of major themes in U.S. history and optimizing classroom instruction in grades K-12. The focus is largely on Massachusetts standards, using local historic events to teach topics national in scope. However, while the direct reach of the program only covers one state, web resources are available to all educators.
The Emerging America program relies heavily on partnerships and discourse, creating educator-institution bonds that may not otherwise have existed. Participating teachers have the opportunity to work with scholars both local and nationally renowned and museum staff, while gaining PDPs and/or graduate credit. In addition, as of 2010, the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium accepted Emerging America's membership, giving the project statewide reach.
There's no need to fret if you aren't located in Massachusetts. The Emerging America website offers ample resources divided between two sections—Online Exhibits and For Teachers. If you are from Massachusetts, consider attending lecture and discussion sessions.
"Radical Equality: Utopian Abolitionists" covers the history of a Massachusetts abolitionist community which existed between 1842 and 1846. It offers an overview video, a video demonstration of silk reeling, a timeline which introduces major figures involved in the community, primary sources with transcriptions, maps of the area, relevant images, and two lessons each for grades 3-7 and 8-12. Both sets of lessons cover Sojourner Truth and the founding constitution of the abolitionist community.
Although some of the exhibit tabs do not seem to load correctly, a wealth of content is still available.
This section contains an overview of the major tenets of historical thinking and several thematically-organized collections of primary and secondary sources, complete with activity suggestions and questions to encourage investigation and critical thinking. Topics addressed include Judeo-Christian European and Native American cosmology, westward expansion, labor reform, urbanization, and the Vietnam War.
One aspect of the Emerging America website worth note is the inclusion of student websites. While other such sites exist, these are treated as part of a larger, overall education effort which involves students and teachers alike. These projects all focus on Massachusetts history, but may serve as inspiration for similar projects in other locales.