Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Economics of Industrialization

Professor Forrant presenting at the seminar.
Professor Robert Forrant, Department of Regional Economic and Social Development, History Department at University of Massachusetts Lowell spoke about the economics of industrialization in the second content seminar at the McGlynn Middle School in Medford. Professor Forrant discussed the economic changes (between 1790 – 1860) caused by the significant investment in railroads and industrial growth. As the transition occurred from local producers to national markets - market economies were created.

The various types of government support for manufacturing were explained as participants were introduced to the industrialization, urbanization and immigration changes that occurred as a result of economic development. During 1810 and 1860 significant societal changes occurred along with changes in the industrial process that greatly impacted workers. As development grew, protests to the changes increased.Professor Forrant the teacher participants.

Two resources mentioned: Inventing America, a two volume textbook with extensive accompanying online resources, and Who Built America? also a two volume text collection available in print and on CD-ROM.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

U.S. Constitution: Meaning of Equality, Natural Rights, and the Rule of Law

Chad Montrie of the History Department at UMass Lowell began the series of Fall Seminars on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at the Madeline English School in Everett. Professor Montrie expounded on the development of the American Revolution as a political and philosophical dispute over representation and consent. The question of whether the Colonists’ justification for independence was grounded in John Locke’s views on natural rights and tyranny was explained. Locke believed that rights are things people are born with, therefore no one can take them away, but they may be denied you. The colonists needed to separate from Great Britain because they believed they were dealing with tyranny, that Britain was denying them their rights; thus the Declaration of Independence was created. Teachers were asked to consider the derivation of Jefferson's ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--ideas which were not unique to the Declaration of Independence.

From Colonies to States
Following declarations of independence and rights, colonies wrote state constitutions which retained the basic forms of colonial government. These state constitutions raised the question of who would rule; did the common people have the capacity to govern themselves? The constitutions of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were viewed as examples of how the philosophy of the authors of each influenced the creation of dissimilar documents. Pennsylvania's constitution written in 1776 by a provincial assembly of farmers and artisans illustrated a radical democracy influenced by Thomas Paine. The constitution of Massachusetts written in 1780 by John Adams included a more complex legislative power with a strong executive branch and bicameral legislation.

The Genesis of the Constitution
The first constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation, was ratified in 1781. After the Revolution some leaders felt that this document were not strong enough for the new country. It left too much sovereignty to the states and was powerless as a national government. The lack of unity among the states was causing problems in international relations, defense and the economic well-being of the states. A Constitutional Convention was convened in May 1787 in Philadelphia. At issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress from each state and how these representatives should be elected. The Constitution was ratified by 1789. Many states, not satisfied with the Constitution as drafted, expressed a desire for a "bill of rights" in order to prevent abuse of powers. The Bill of Rights based on George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights was ratified in 1791.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution
Teachers then participated in a lively group exercise in which they separated into two groups to either defend the Declaration of Independence as a founding document or make the same case for the Constitution. Teachers examined the documents' origins, purpose and spirit, main principles, and underlying ideas and its impact.  John Fergus, speaking in defense of the Declaration of Independence, stated that "The spirit of the document is human equality." Diane Dideo defended the Constitution as a founding document by declaring " The Declaration of Independence no longer provides America with what is needed." It seems that consensus was that although the constitution was necessary to do the "business" of government, the spirit of the declaration will always be a part of America.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Project Participants Begin Lesson Planning

Workshop participantsThe first after-school workshop was designed to assist teachers to begin thinking about ways to utilize the wealth of historical content being explored in the Voices Rising Project. Teacher teams are creating primary-source-based lessons centering on one of the project’s national parks. These lessons will be developed into units as the project year progresses.
Throughout the school year participants in the project will be communicating with each other, with the library researcher, with the historians and with the project staff through seminars and workshops and via an electronic communication tool (WebBoard). The role of the WebBoard in the project was discussed and its features presented.Workshop participants planning lessons
An important component of the Voices Rising Project is to encourage students to act and think like historians. Participating teachers explored ways to design their lesson activities so that their students will use primary sources as evidence of historical events. Providing students with the resources to study history as historians- this “historical thinking” will enable students to utilize primary sources of information for inquiry, evaluation and interpretation of historical events.
The teachers at the workshop convened by grade to plan and discuss the standards, essential question, goals and objectives of their individual lessons and their combined units.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Project Team Explores Boston Public Library Resources

1880 Census on MA Water-power The Boston Public Library is an important resource partner in our Teaching American History Grant project. BPL Curator of Social Sciences, Marta Pardee-King, gave our project team a detailed tour highlighting how to find and access the different types of collections available. Pardee-King explains the Book Delivery systemIn Government Documents the librarian showed the 1880 Massachusetts Census report of Steam and Water-power in the state. Such a document would be a good resource to explore the impact of the Lowell Mills on the state economy. The music department turned up quite a find when the librarian presented a copy of Suzanne M. Robertson's thesis entitled, A musical portrait of the Spindle City, documenting the social significance of song in the mill girls' lives. Another interesting tour stop was the Internet Archive's digitization room that will make digital versions of the BPL's rare books web accessible. Our teachers will have a hand in helping decide what books will be digitized in the upcoming year as they create primary source based American history lessons. 17th Century atlas to be digitized

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