Summer Institute 2009: Follow-up

Visiting scholars Jenny Wahl, Paul Finkelman, and Spencer Crew

Visiting scholars Jenny Wahl, Paul Finkelman, and Spencer Crew

I loved our 2009 summer institute.  But what did others think?  One way of reading their enthusiasm was the evaluations.  Quantitatively, it was a winner:  on a six point scale, participants assigned the program’s value with a mean score of 5.825.

It wasn’t just the numbers that reflected their enthusiasm.  A few responses taken from the evaluations:

These institutes, past and present, are the most valuable professional development I have ever experienced. They enrich my teaching and my students’ learning.

Amazing!  Really made me realize how much I didn’t know about the lengthy legal, social, political history that led up to the Civil War.

This has really helped with my understanding of how to get students to ask questions and then develop their evidence to answer the questions.

It was excellent!  So often we are taught teaching methods, not content once we are out of school, so this was wonderful!

It was refreshing to be at an educational workshop and feel respected as an adult, as a teacher, and as a professional.

If you weren’t there, here’s hoping that the following artifacts will help you get a small slice of the great joy it wrought!

First:  You can’t tell your players without a program:

The 2009 Causes of Conflict cohort started the week with two evaluation pieces:  a teacher survey and a content knowledge test.

Monday’s focus was on understanding the roots of sectionalism as laid in the nation’s founding.  Paul Finkelman led a historiographical examination of the causes of the Civil War.  He discussed how, since the final shots were fired, historians have always interpreted the war through the lens of the pressing concerns of their day.

Then, Finkelman examined the roots of secession in the revolution and the Constitutional Convention.  He presented a long list of Southern victories and Northern concessions.  One big idea?  That the mathematics of the amendment process would have required 60 states to end slavery through constitutional change rather than bloodshed.

Spencer Crew rounded out our first day by drawing our attention to slave narratives.  It’s hard to imagine that these incredibly powerful tales were once disregarded by historians as biased.  Crew drew from both Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (a copy of which was given to all participants) as well as other slave narratives, gathered in a handout packet.

Tuesday started with an “unpacking” of the Dig Deep CBA:

Tuesday’s focus was on understanding the pr0- and anti-slavery argument.  The day continued with Paul Finkelman’s examination of pro-slavery thought in its legal, philosophical, pseudo-scientific, and religious manifestations.  Finkelman focused on Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia Query 14 and 18.

The program continued with Spencer Crew’s presentation on Abolitionism.

The day concluded with Jenny Wahl’s presentation examining slavery as an economic force.

Wednesday started with a “”To Light Us to Freedom and Glory Again:  Civil War Poetry with a Purpose'”, a video-conference led by Peter Armenti of the Library of Congress.  An overview with links to many poems is posted here; Mr. Armenti generously shares his presentation notes here.

Wednesday’s focus was on the Fugitive Slave Acts.  Jenny Wahl started us off with a continuation of the previous days focus (see slides and article above), followed by attention to understanding fugitive slaves’ from an economist’s perspective.

The day continued with Spencer Crew’s attention to slave resistance.  Crew described the multitude of ways slaves resisted slavery, from open rebellion to everyday acts of opposition.

Paul Finkelman finished the day examining the Fugitive Slave Acts themselves:  What the laws said and how they were enacted.

Audio File: Paul Finkelman – Fugitive Slave Acts

Rich Christensen and Peter Thacker finished the day with an introduction of six literacy strategies to aid students in interpreting tough documents.  The document they used as a model was an 1831 article about the Nat Turner Rebellion printed in the Richmond Enquirer.

Thursday’s focus was understanding the role of the West (an investigation we’ll be continuing with our March 6, 2010 Center for Columbia River History program, “Neither North nor South: The Pacific Northwest in the Civil War.”

Jenny Wahl started our day, looking at the impact the Dred Scott decision had on westward expansion as well as answering questions from earlier sessions.

Paul Finkelman discussed the role of the west in forcing the national confrontation over slavery.

Rich Christen and Peter Thacker finished out the day moving the individual components of the literacy strategies introduced the previous day to their collaborative steps, then having a discussion comparing their assets.  Next, they talked about the challenges to students in moving from analyzing a single document to developing an argument synthesizing a document set.  They introduced a scaffolded approach to this challenge utilizing a set of documents related to slave resistance.  We continued our attention to this document analysis set the following day.

Friday’s session was limited to members of the Causes of Conflict 2009-2010 Cohort.  This group will be using the Lesson Study approach to deepen their understanding of the teaching and learning of history, as well as attending additional Reading History workshops and two History on Location programs this spring (March 6 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Reserve, open to additional participants, see above, and spring break in Gettysburg through a partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.)

For more information about our work, please contact Matt Karlsen.

Participants:  What else should be included here?  What struck you as most important?  What will you be sharing with your students?


4 responses to “Summer Institute 2009: Follow-up

  1. Tony Liberatore

    Matt –

    These are great documents and lessons. I already wrote in some of Finkelman’s thougts on slavery for the Civil Rights unit.

  2. Glad to hear it, Tony – terrific that you’re seeing strong links between last year’s work and this year’s.

  3. Pingback: History on Location Follow-Up Part 5: Archives, African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, American History Museum « Teaching American History in SW Washington

  4. Pingback: Another round of Lesson Study « Teaching American History in SW Washington

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