Friday, October 26, 2007

Advisory Board Convenes at Ryder Gallery

Advisory board seated in Ryder galleryProject partners met at the Malden Public Library's beautiful Ryder Gallery on Friday, October 26th, 2007 from 10 AM - noon. The advisory board convenes twice a year for the latest update on the Voices Rising project and to discuss future activities. We were pleased to have representatives from all of our grant partners in attendance. The list of attendees included school superintendents from Malden and Medford, history department faculty from Suffolk and UMass Lowell, and National Park Service directors from Boston National Historical Park, Minute Man, the Saugus Iron Works, and Lowell Mills.
Dr. Cynthia Fiducia, TRITEC executive director, led the meeting providing an overview of the project's main purpose as stated in our grant application.
To raise student achievement by improving teacher's knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history.
View our PowerPoint Presentation handouts. (2.1 MB Flash)

Summer Institute report thumbnailDr. Diane Schilder then presented an overview of evaluation activities emphasizing how our project meets the goals of the Teaching American History Grant program. We ended the evaluation segment by listening to a podcast created at the end of year one by Judi Allen's history students. The podcast was a simulated meeting of Samuel Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, and Thomas Paine prior to the Boston Tea Party based on primary source research of the Boston Committees of Correspondence. The American history podcast required students to write an authentic script using colonial language, construct a plausible dialog between real-life historical figures, and perform a voice narration to demonstrate the colonist's point of view.
Dianne Stratton debriefed the group on our successful Summer Institute held in August. (see previous posts) A two-page summary report (PDF) is available for download. A four minute slide show set to music brought the week alive and used photos taken by Robert Simpson during the week long institute. Dianne also encouraged advisory board members to check the project's blog to sample our fall historian seminar content.
Molly Laden presents lesson planning workshop overviewNext up, was our newest project member, Molly Laden who is the Medford Teacher Learning Center Director. Molly gave an overview of our lesson planning workshops and engaged board members in an activity where they compared different versions of an American history lesson introduction. The activity helped members see how the study of history and critical thinking can be supported by well structured lessons that encourage student inquiry over factual recall. We like to welcome Molly to our team!

Bob Simpson presented on the project's technology infrastructure. He started by giving a sneak peek of our upcoming release of PBU Builder 2.0. PBU Builder is TRITEC's curriculumBob Simpson presents technology infrastructure database system which has undergone an extensive redesign to bring the site up to today's web design standards. Look for more information on the public beta launch scheduled for December 3, 2007. Simpson went on to highlight content on the Voices Rising website such as historian biographies, summer institute and fall content schedules, and year one units located on our PBU Builder database. Several members were intrigued with website statistics produced through Google Analytics tracking technology. For instance, during the months of September and October the average daily site visits were 14/day with up to 30/day on Voices Rising professional development days.

Dr. Fiducia ended the meeting by showing a draft version of our year 3 theme, How did people in America secure their rights?
Be sure to mark your calendars for the next Advisory Board meeting on April 11, 2008.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beyond Historical Mythology: Irish Immigrants in America

Professor Montrie spoke with participants about the experience of Irish immigrants in America in the 19th century. In addition to looking at the experiences of Irish immigrants, teachers explored ways to distinguish legend from truth in historical events.Sign: Help Wanted, No Irish Need Apply.

Waves of immigration into America from various countries changed over time, and workshop participants reviewed the immigration sources during the 19th century. During 19th century 'nativism', Irish immigrants faced: incidences of violence; exclusion from jobs; a temperance campaign in response to the association of the Irish Catholics with drinking; and the emergence of the “Know Nothing” political party with views opposing the inclusion of “outsiders”.
The Day We Celebrate picture.
The American labor market became segmented during the 19th century. The Irish immigrants worked in the lower levels of employment in the American economy- the Irish men worked as common laborers and the Irish women worked in domestic service. Both Irish men and women were employed as textile mill and factory operatives.

The Irish moved to higher positions in the American economy during the African American migration, and the second wave of European immigration. The Irish continued heavy influence in the Democratic Party, especially after the 1930s ‘Democratic Coalition’. The Irish American experience became incorporated into the American national identity, with cultural pride based on reworked tradition and memory of historical events.

The Catholic Church became an extremely powerful entity during this period, so the Second Ku Klux Klan was a failed attempt to organize native-born “white” Protestant Americans. The Second Ku Klux Klan was established to promote white supremacy, unregulated capitalism, fundamentalist Christianity, chastity and fidelity, and prohibition. It was unsuccessful in it’s efforts to organize largely due to the power of the Catholic Church.
Professor Montrie and picture portraying the Irish assimilating as American citizens.
Professor Montrie concluded his workshop with an activity designed to assist teachers in engaging their students to explore truth and myths in history. He encouraged teachers to prompt their students to think critically about methodology and the validity of historical interpretations. Cartoon images of Irish industries.
Professor Montrie suggested teachers' have students consider the following questions:
How do we know what we know about the past? How do we evaluate the truth of that knowledge?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

“Multicultural education is good education for all children”

Today’s seminar was chock-full of teaching strategies on integrating multicultural education into the American history classroom. Professor Patricia Fontaine, UMass Lowell, stated that the number one reason that multicultural education should be taught is based on our changing demographics. She cited the prediction, “by 2050, 47% of the U.S. population will consist of ethnic groups of color and by 2020, 46% of the school population will be of color.” Historian Professor Fontaine

Professor Fontaine's work with the Lowell Public school system underscored the difficulties in teaching social studies when schools use all their time to address student deficiencies in English Language Arts (ELA) and math performance in order to meet AYP (Acceptable Yearly Progress) goals. Her solution was to integrate social studies into ELA through the use of historical fiction from grades K-8. A challenge to multicultural education is, "that our history is not necessarily the history of these children...how do we make them feel welcome in our own culture without them losing their culture and still tell the story of the United States." Fontaine went on to describe that after the 2003 changes to the Massachusetts history frameworks the emphasis on the state exam shifted to American history at the expense of World history.

Multicultural education is "education free of inherited bias." The number one strategy for eliminating bias is cooperative learning. She cited a study in New York City that successfully used cooperative learning to break racial stereotypes and have children from different ethnic backgrounds work together. Another major goal of multicultural education is a commitment to democratic values. When asked what the goals of social studies education were after the colonial period, teachers correctly identified, a good workforce and citizenship. Fontaine discussed the role of myth in our history and the creation of our own version of the English language as examples of the establishment of an American culture.

One surprising statistic was that teachers ask about 80,000 questions a year with 75% of those questions being lower level ones requiring mostly factual recall. She suggested that history teachers probably ask even more fact-based questions due to a reliance on lecture. We should be asking more higher-level questions, get them to analyze and synthesize so they become critical thinkers. Multicultural teaching is also all about vocabulary and expository text. The social agenda of multicultural education seeks to increase the time students speak to one another as a way to promote academic vocabulary usage and reveal a student's prior knowledge.

***Selected Web Resources***

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Women and the New England Textile Industry

Professor Chad MontrieProfessor Chad Montrie from the University of Massachusetts Lowell History Department spoke with participants about Women and the New England Textile Industry. His discussion began with an introduction to the transformation of the relationship between people and their environment as social relations, technological innovations, demographic variation and geographic mobility changed their lives.Image of pre-industrial farming.

In pre-industrial agriculture, work was determined by the natural world rather than by outside oversight. This changed for individuals once they no longer worked on the farms and began to work in industrial jobs.

Textile mills and the associated developments in farming changed the relationship between people and their environment. Life on the farm required knowledge and skills in the use of plants, animals, soil and water. In family farming and agriculture all aspects of one's life had a direct connection with the environment. There was not a distinct separation between labor and leisure before the industrial revolution.Image of an issue of a Lowell Offering cover.

Several memoir passages were explored which provided insights into the connection to nature for people who lived on family farms and those who worked in the mills.

In industrial textile manufacturing women became wage laborers and were required to work in a regimented environment. These worImage of textile mill worker at the loom in the mill.king conditions were distinctly different from work on the family farm. Employees in the textile mills no longer had a direct connection to the environment in their work. Life as a mill worker involved a different relationship to nature. Labor and leisure activities became distinctly separate. As girls and women toiled in the mills, nature became a place for leisure and escape from the work environment.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Water Power and the Promenade

Professor Pat Malone Professor Patrick Malone, a Brown University historian, presented a visually rich PowerPoint lecture on the development of the Lowell Mill System. Professor Malone who is currently writing a book on water power in Lowell, stated that he was "immersed in the material and has studied the city of Lowell for many years with a primary focus on technology and industrial development where his real specialty is in water power." Professor Malone shared both current and historic photographs, maps, models, and engineering diagrams to explain how water power was harnessed beginning in a place known as East Chelmsford, Massachusetts in 1822.

In his opening remarks he emphasized that "technology is chosen by human beings, people make technological decisions, technology impacts people in various ways, some of them unintended." One very intentional decision made by Nathan Appleton and the "Boston Associates" was to secretly purchase all the surrounding lands on the Merrimack river next to the Pawtucket falls. There buying spree included a controlling interest in the failing Pawtucket transportation canal. They believed that the 30ft drop of the falls could be used to power over 50 Waltham-sized textile factories.

1836 diagram of the Lowell Canal SystemOne critical historic figure who pioneered the construction and development of the Lowell Mill system was James B. Francis. Francis was a British engineer, who in Malone's opinion was "arguably the best engineer in America in the 19th century." In 1855, Francis published Lowell Hydraulic Experiments which won the acclaim of European scientists. Malone explained that the Locks and Canal corporation financed Francis' large scale hydraulic experiments because they needed complete control the water flow. To achieve this precise control, Francis had New Hampshire lakes dammed in order to supplement the flow of water to the Lowell Mill system in the summer and fall. He also developed scientific methods and mechanical devices to regulate the flow of water to each factory in the mill complex.

On the social front, Sundays were for promenading, where mill girls would dress in their finest clothes to promenade along the Lowell canals. The Lowell promenade consisted of a series of linear greenways that allowed people to walk a complete loop around the canal system. Malone mentioned that this promenade predates Olmsted's greenways by several decades. Promenading did cause tension, especially when its participants looked down on the Irish immigrants who could be seen cleaning and repairing the drained canals.

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