Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Teaching American History Grant Funded

TRITEC is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a new Teaching American History Grant to our collaborative. The new project, Becoming America - The Defining Role of Immigration, will build upon the Voice Rising Project (2006-2009) by expanding local partnerships and continuing an exploration of immigration's impact on the building of America. The History Department at Suffolk University will continue to be our lead university partner. Teachers from Chelsea Public Schools, Braintree Public Schools, and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School will join the TRITEC school districts of Everett, Malden, and Medford on the new project. Check this blog for the launch of a new project website.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Advisory Board Meeting Report

Voices Rising Advisory Board The Voices Rising Project held its first Advisory Board meeting at Suffolk University today. The Advisory Board meets twice a year to hear a status report on the project's outcomes and plan for future activities. Professor Robert Allison, project co-director welcomed the group to Suffolk. TRITEC executive director, Cindy Fiducia, gave a project overview on the project's themes focused on immigrants and disenfranchised groups. She emphasized the project's year three focus on the essential question, How did people in America secure their rights?
Next, Diane Schilder, project evaluator, reviewed the evaluation activities that we are using to assess impact on teacher performance and student achievement. One strong indicator of success was that teachers participating in Voices Rising performed 14 scale points above a comparison group of non-participating teachers. Dr. Schilder also noted a marked increase in teachers' use of primary sources in their classrooms (51% to 86%).
Suffolk University historian Pat ReeveSuffolk historian and Project Coordinator, Pat Reeve, gave an overview of the Summer Institute held from August 18-22, 2008. The group was then treated to a slideshow composed of photographs taken by Robert Simpson during the week-long immersion into American history that ranged from a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail to a day at the U.S.S Constitution Museum.
Voices Rising Summer Institute Slideshow from Robert Simpson on Vimeo.
Molly Laden demonstrates wiki discussion pageNew communication technologies were presented by Molly Laden, Teacher Learning Center Director in Medford. Molly explained our decision to use a wiki to host fall historian seminar content, teacher discussions and workshop materials. The Voices Rising wikispace allows users to easily add, update, and edit content on the site. We will also use the wiki to begin the lesson development process by sharing lesson ideas across districts and posting primary source materials in the form of images and links. The photo above shows an example of the wiki used by teachers to respond to historian prompts on their seminar readings.
Simpson gives update on PBU Builder 2.0Robert Simpson, Teacher Learning Center Director in Malden updated the group on TRITEC's new PBU Builder site used to host American history lessons and provide easy access to district students and teachers. We then transitioned to a Student Response System (SRS) activity based upon primary source content from the grade 3 Project-Based Unit (PBU) The Grass is Always Greener. We acquired the Qwizdom SRS from a state Technology Enhancement Grant. Half of the advisory board responded using their remotes that they had never used a SRS prior to today's meeting. In one multiple choice question, participants were asked to analyze a painting depicting early 19th century farm life. Answers were sent and then displayed as a bar graph on the computer projector. Simpson emphasized how the SRS engages students and allows teachers to make real-time adjustments to instruction. If you're interested in viewing the full SRS activity visit the Voices Rising wiki.
The meeting ended with a brief discussion on the next round of TAH grant funding which would support up to five years.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Walking the War of Redemption

Elementary teachers share history lesson ideas.The morning began with teachers dividing into three groups, elementary, middle, and high school, to reflect on yesterday's content. The teacher sharing time is a new addition to our summer institute program based on previous participant feedback. Each teacher submitted a reflection sheet offering ideas for using the American history content and primary sources presented with their students. The elementary teachers discussed how colonists living in the 18th century exercised their rights, who received the benefits of taxation, and the prevalence of slavery in Massachusetts. The reflection sheets will be reviewed by project historians in order to fine tune the fall seminar series which begins on Thursday, September 11th.

African Americans, 54th MA Infantry Memorial - BostonA short walk transported the group to the 19th century Boston neighborhood of Beacon Hill to learn about anti-slavery and abolition. Park ranger, Ryan McNabb, led a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail which began at the 54th Infantry Memorial honoring the service of the first black regiment who fought in the Civil War. McNabb stated, "thousands of free blacks from as far as Indiana traveled to Boston to join the regiment, they wanted to join the war against slavery." The tour then made its way from the south side of Beacon Hill, populated by the wealthy Boston Bramins to the North side where free blacks and the poor formed a dense, tight knit community. At the corner of Pinckney and Anderson streets stood the whites only, Phillips school which became the center of Boston's first attempt to desegregate schools. We learned that William Cooper Nell, at the age of 13, who was forced to attend the black only, Abiel Smith school, set a goal that some day Boston schools would be integrated. Nell's dream was fullfilled in 1855 when the Supreme Court of Massachuetts ruled that separate schools could not be maintained at the expense of taxpayers. Stopping at 66 Phillips Street, home of Lewis and Harriet Hayden, we learned the Boston Vigilance Committee was an important organization that financed the Underground Railroad. McNabb shows coat of arms Hayden escaped from slavery in 1846 from Lexington, Kentucky and made his way to Boston. Hayden became a successful businessman who used his resources and his home to aid other blacks fleeing slavery. After the 1850s Fugitive Slave Act was passed it was illegal to aid escaped slaves throughout the United States. In one dramatic confrontation, Hayden prevented slave catchers who were after William and Ellen Craft, from entering his home by threatening to blow up two kegs of gun powder strategically placed at his front door. Despite not being able to enter the now private residences of these historic sites, Ranger McNabb did a terrific job bringing these important events to life. The tour ended at the Boston African American National Historic Site which is located in the old Abiel Smith school on Joy Street. The African American Meeting house, which sits adjacent to the park headquarters, is currently in the middle of a major restoration project. Each teacher left the tour with plenty of new knowledge and a bag filled with books to use in their classrooms.

Kerri Greenidge, Contribution box The afternoon session featured a lecture by Kerri Greenidge, from Boston University, on Abolition: Law and Public Opinion. Kerri began with an engaging primary source activity aimed at probing how Americans viewed their rights compared to Bostonians. The Prince Hall petition of 1/13/1777 illustrated that Boston blacks exercised their right of petition to request that the state recognize their Natural and Unalienable Right to that freedom which the Grat Parent of the Universe Bestowed equally on all menkind. After analyzing the documents, teachers suggested that blacks used religious principles and the countries' revolutionary environment to push for their own freedoms. Greenidge remarked that, "blacks were considered both citizens and property in Massachusetts." This unique status gave blacks the right to petition and even sue their owners. As the free black community made educational and economic strides, Boston evolved from just being anti-slavery to defiantly abolitionist. The use of contribution boxes to raise funds were one visible example of black organizational power. CAUTION COLORED PEOPLE Abolitionists also used marketing techniques in the form of graphic posters to warn the black community about the perils of slave catchers who roamed the neighborhoods attempting to apprehend escaped slaves. CAUTION!! COLORED PEOPLE OF BOSTON strongly encouraged blacks not to talk with Watchmen and Police Officers. One striking statistic was that only five blacks were ever caught under the auspices of the Fugitive Slave Act with three men eventually rescued and set free by Bostonians. Greenidge ended the session with the Civil War, known as the War of Redemption, where blacks were granted their freedom. Boys the Old Flag Never Touched the Ground sung by William Carney was a musical symbol of black pride that celebrated their Civil War service. The song also communicated that blacks could use patriotism to garner greater acceptance and recognition by the government.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Advisory Board Meeting Returns to Malden

Diane Schilder, project evaluator gives an overview of grant activities
The Voices Rising advisory board returned to the beautiful Ryder Gallery at Malden Public Library today. The advisory board holds meetings on a semi-annual basis to inform stakeholders about project milestones and to solicit feedback on future events. TRITEC's, Cindy Fiducia kicked off the meeting with introductions and a reminder that the project's annual public showcase will be held at the Boston Public Library on May 20th from 4-6PM. Next, Robert Simpson gave an update on the launch of the new PBU Builder website which is in the final testing phase. PBU Builder 2.0 will be fully operational in preparation for the annual showcase. Highlights from Diane Schilder's brief evaluation summary included an explanation of the federal reporting requirements on the impact on both teacher knowledge of American history and student performance based upon standardized test questions. The Voices Rising advisory board Dianne Stratton used a concept map to demonstrate the lesson and unit development process. This year, teachers created American History lessons based on primary sources connected to the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and the Lowell National Historic Park. Molly Laden gave an overview of the digitization process that included one amazing find right in Medford's backyard, a printed book containing the transcript of Daniel O'Connell's famous 1837 speech on the state of Ireland.
Diane Dideo, Everett High School Kate Ambrose, Malden Grade 3 teacher

The most exciting part of the meeting occurred when teachers from Everett, Malden, and Medford each presented a portion of their lessons. Diane Dideo's high school lesson used poetry to teach students about the Lowell factory system. Kate Ambrose, a Malden third grade teachers showed how paintings could be used to study the difference between farm and factory life in the early 19th century. Taryn Ross used political cartoons as her primary sources to help high school students understand why the Irish chose to immigrate to Lowell. Another Medford teacher, Eileen McLaughlin, participating in the complementary Laptops in American History project discussed the results of technology integration into her history classroom. The project is a Massachusetts DOE grant focused on promoting student 1-to-1 laptop computing. Ms. McLaughlin talked about the power of wikis to improve student research on pivotal court cases such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Sacco and Venzetti. Eileen McLaughlin, Medford High School teacher talks about wikis
The meeting closed with exciting news from Robert Simpson about the George Lucas Educational Foundation's (GLEF) visit to the Ferryway school from April 14-16th (visit the SIW blog for more details) to profile our technology integration efforts. Professor Bob Allison also gave a preview of the upcoming Voices Rising Summer Institute to be held in Boston from August 18-22, 2008.

View the Advisory Board PowerPoint handouts in Flash. (SWF)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Voices Project Team to Present at NECC 2008

Our team is happy to report that our proposal, Digital Investigators: Using digitized media for Project-Based Learning, was accepted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to be presented at its annual National Educational Computing Conference. NECC 2008 will be held in San Antonio, TX from June 29-July 2.

Project directors, Molly Laden, Robert Simpson, and Dianne Stratton, decided to select the Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) session format so that participants can explore primary source documents embedded into the American History units developed through Voices Rising. The BYOL format also allows the team to share 1-to-1 laptop strategies being implemented through a separate state Technology Enhancement grant. Currently we are providing materials and training to help high school teachers integrate technology skills into their teaching of American history. Look for further details about the session on the NECC site in February, 2008.

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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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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Industrialization, Markets, and the Reshaping of Everyday Life

Asa Knight store
Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) is an excellent resource for investigating the rapid changes brought about by industrialization in New England. Teachers began day 2 of the summer institute by visiting OSV to perform a site investigation on how the expanded market economy of the 1830s reshaped work and community life. Chief Historian, Jack Larkin, gave a lecture on the impact of industry during the early 1800s. Larkin stated, "all New Englanders were involved in the market and transportation was key." Teachers formed six groups which were given a set of research questions that could only be answered through field research. Our group was assigned the following questions,
  • How does the process of getting credit and exchanging goods and services change?
  • Who gets loans and from whom?
  • What is the role of banks in the new economy?
Our group visited Asa Knight's store where we learned from the clerk that townspeople were granted credit in exchange for products like butter and wooden shingles. Thompson bank would issue its own bank notes that would have value based on its gold deposits. Salem Towne house cheese making roomWe discovered that Salem Towne was a progressive farmer who sold his families butter and cheese in Boston and would grant loans to other townspeople. By talking to the printer we learned that he paid $300 dollars for his printing press which was sold and manufactured in New York City. The transfer of funds was arranged by the Thompson Bank working with a Boston and NYC bank. Gold and silver were used as hard currency, especially when it came to coinage where the Spanish reale was valued for its silver content.
The day ended with Leslie Obleschuk, Tsongas Industrial History Center Co-Director, leading a debrief on each group's research findings. Teachers share field research at OSV
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Everyone is an immigrant in the 17th century

Blast furnace leather bellows Historian Tad Baker from Salem State College explained why "everyone was an immigrant in the 17th century" when considering the majority of people coming to settle New England. So began the opening session of this year's Teaching American History Grant Summer Institute held at the Saugus Iron Works (SIW) National Historic Site in Saugus, Massachusetts. What better place than the SIW for Everett, Malden, Medford, and Revere teachers to learn how early American colonists used technology to build the first successful integrated iron works in the New World.
Highlights from Professor Baker's PowerPoint presentation included early colonial maps and artifacts from four separate archeology sites which he has actively worked. Professor Baker said that colonial maps are an especially effective way to engage students in the study of history by examining their ornamentation. Historian Tad Baker

Undershot waterwheelRanger Amy Curry led a site tour of the SIW during the afternoon session. Teachers had the added bonus of seeing how carpenters are working to restore the blast furnace building using 17th century construction techniques. The SIW site is currently closed to the public until January 2008 while it undergoes an extensive upgrade of its historic buildings and grounds. Fortunately, everything was in good working order including the 500 lb hammer and the rolling and slitting mill. Ranger Curry remarked that the rolling and slitting mill was a technological marvel of the 17th century. It harnessed water power to flatten and cut iron bars into nail rods. The day concluded with a tour of the museum building and a review of the educational programs offered to students.
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