Thursday, September 25, 2008

Controversial Historical Events

On September 25, 2008 teachers participated in a seminar entitled Indian Policy in the New Republic: Promises of the Revolution Denied. This session was conducted by Julia Mize, a Park Ranger with the Boston National Historical Parks.

Teachers were asked to think about the fact that over a period of more than 300 years Native Americans had their traditional lands taken from them, and to consider whether the United States governments should return and/or compensate the various tribes for the land taken illegally.

Treaties between the federal government and Native American tribes were read as preparation for this seminar, and teachers used these treaties as a foundation for their discussion with Julia Mize.

Teachers discussed the challenges of presenting controversial historical events to their students and how these challenges are different in the elementary, middle and high school classrooms.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lesson Planning Workshop

On September 23, 2008 Voices Rising teachers met for the first Lesson Planning Workshop at the McGlynn School in Medford.

Teachers began the process of thinking about ways to integrate the historical content they are exploring in the Voices Rising project into their classrooms. Teachers were asked to consider the content and primary sources that align with the curriculum and grades that they teach. The lessons participants develop will be woven into project-based units later in the project year.

The teachers explored the use of the Voices Rising wikispace to work collaboratively with the historians, project staff, the library liaison who will be assisting with primary source research, and other teacher participants. The role of the wikispace in the project was discussed and teachers had the opportunity to use the computers in the McGlynn Library to try the various features of the wikispace.

Participants then met with other teachers to talk about how they might design lessons that requires students to use primary sources to interpret historical events. Before the end of the workshop all teachers convened by grade and discussed the standards, essential questions, goals and objectives of their individual lessons and their combined unit.

While the lessons teachers create are early in their development, teachers began to think about the content that will encourage their students to study history as historians- utilizing historical thinking that will ask students to use primary sources of information for inquiry, evaluation and interpretation of actual events.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

On September 18th, Dr. Allison of Suffolk University facilitated a fascinating discussion about the two opposing viewpoints regarding the ratification of the United States Constitution.

The two opposing viewpoints were represented by the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists:

The Federalists' position (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay):

The separation of powers into three independent branches protected the rights of the people. Each branch represents a differe
nt aspect of the peo ple, and because all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another.

A listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from vi
olating rights other than the listed ones? Since we can't list all the rights, the Federalists argued that it's better to list none at all.

The Anti-Federalists Posit
ion (George Mason, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Elbridge Gerry):
It gave too much power to
the national government at the expense of the state governments.
There was no bill of rights.
The national government could maintain an army in peacetime.
Congress, because of the `necessary and proper clause,' wielded too much power.
The executive branch held too much power.

Nine states' approval were needed to put the Constitution into effect.

Five states ratified the Constitution with little or no delay:
New Jersey

There was much more discussion and debate in Massachusetts. The debates took place at Long Lane Meeting House in Boston (on what is now Federal Street). Representatives on both sides made passionate arguments supporting their positions but in the end, the Federalists had succeeded (187-168). One of the compromises resulted in the Bill of Rights.

Soon after Massachusetts voted to ratify, Maryland, South Carolina, and New Hampshire voted to adopt the Constitution.

Although the required nine states approved the new Constitution, New York and Virginia's approval was crucial to assure it's acceptance. Eventually, Virginia and New York voted to ratify as well, with North Carolina and Rhode Island following suit.