Emerging America Blog: A voice for quality history education


Arizona requires students to pass U.S. Citizenship test. Commentary by Robert Pondiscio in The Education Gadfly. http://edexcellence.net/articles/model-citizens

Give input on Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization. Currently no support for Social Studies. National Council for the Social Studies supports Programs of National Significance. Read the rest of this entry »

Photo Soldiers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Soldiers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Source: http://www.alba-valb.org/

Online registration is now open for a free workshop exploring the role played by American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War.

The First to Fight workshop will provide participants with powerful strategies to teach content and the Common Core, with the following resources and questions:

To learn more and register online, click here.

DDM Survey - South Shore Social Studies Supervisors (5S) is taking a brief online survey on implementation of District Determined Measures (DDMs). Please participate!

Don’t forget the PLC for Social Studies Department Chairs, TODAY (Tuesday) 3:30-5:00pm. Karen White from Mass DESE will Skype in at 4:00 to answer questions about DDMs, PARCC, Model Curriculum Units, and other topics. Read the rest of this entry »


Strengthening Civic Learning in the Commonwealth – 01/22/15 – Millbury Memorial Jr/Sr High School; 4-7 pm. Working group invites participation from teachers, administrators, policy makers… with concerns and recommendations on preparing next generation for civic engagement. 3 minutes to present. Bring written copy of testimony. Register by 01/15/15. Read the rest of this entry »

Arriba España!

arriba espana1

As the Spanish Civil War raged between 1936­-1939, struggles between competing ideologies played out on the streets as well as in the trenches. As much of Europe prepared for another global war, the military and social clashes in Spain served a dress rehearsal for potent new tools of propaganda as well as deadly new weapons and tactics. Spanish political factions: fascist, communist, anarchist, republican, nationalist, and socialist – all sought support from the Spanish people as well as allies abroad.

In this lesson, students learn to pose a series of structured questions, including the central question, “How does one side in a conflict, through visual media, persuade people of the justness of their cause?”

Students use the Primary Source Analysis tool from the Library of Congress to evaluate vibrantly colored Spanish Civil War posters and present their findings to their class. Some posters played on fears. Others appealed to an ideal of a brighter future. The posters quickly made their way out of Spain, into the rest of Europe and through the world. Sensitivity is required since some posters display blood, weapons, and potentially upsetting imagery, including victims of bombings, the Nazi swastika, and Soviet hammer and sickle.

Students will pay close attention to symbols on posters and infer the intended audience of the artist. Later, students will use the posters to grapple with open questions, such as, “How do these posters compare to images we see today?” For extension, students can create and share their own propaganda posters. Classes may continue the exploration of ideology and propaganda into study of World War II and the Cold War.

Building on a joint workshop between the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) and the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program of the Collaborative for Educational Services, this lesson relies on the large collection of Spanish Civil War propaganda posters at Library of Congress. There are over 120 posters in the collection. Full-scale versions of many of these posters are available online from the University of California San Diego, making this an outstanding exploration for teaching inquiry with primary sources.



DEADLINE APPROACHES: UMass Amherst – CES History Institute – Register by Dec. 15
Earn 10 PDPs & $50 gift card for attending any two Feinberg Lectures plus two sessions at CES in Northampton, January 22 and February 26 – 4:30-7:00pm.
NEW – Additional sessions:

  • Tues., Dec. 9, 4:00pm – Center for the Yiddish Book: “So how do you like America?”: Discussion for teachers – Josh Lambert, visiting professor of English at UMass Amherst. MUST PRE-REGISTER.
  • The gender and immigration conference in January is Thursday, Feb. 26 and Friday, Feb. 27, NOT Friday and Saturday.
  • There is a scheduled Feinberg Lecture April 6.


  • Frederick Douglass.
  • 1912 Lawrence “Bread and Roses Strike”
  • December in History at the Library of Congress: Wright Brothers, death of Washington.


  • NCSS – College, Career, & Citizenship Framework (C3) www.socialstudies.org/c3 This is the future of the Social Studies. Download it. Learn it.
  • AMAZING booklet of exemplary curriculum based on C3 from 15 leading social studies orgs. “Teaching the C3 Framework: Exploring Inquiry-Based Instruction in the Social Studies.” (I think a benefit of membership, but making sure.)
  • Periodic Table of the Presidents – Geek cool!
  • Teaching Tolerance – Effective and balanced FREE curriculum to end racism, sexism, classism, homophobia.
  • Massachusetts Geographic Alliance – Workshops and resources.
  • eBook versions of Library of Congress Primary Source Sets

  • From Dr. David Pook:

  • Tools for Teachers: Close Reading & Text-Dependent Questions” (Aspen Institute)
  • Understanding the CCSS: What They Are and How They Work: Choosing, Teaching, and Assessing Complex Texts”


    Free 30-hour course, Sundays, Jan. 18-Mar. 29. – National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. Tabor Academy History Department. Marion, MA. Five College Center for East Asian Studies.

    Student documentary video competition by C-SPAN. Cash awards up to $5,000. Due Jan. 20.

    Free “Get Started with Service-Learning” 2-day workshops sponsored by Mass ESE.
    Thursday, January 29th and Friday, January 30th (8:30-3:30 both days). Doubletree, Leominster Register Here (register by January 22nd)
    Wednesday, February 25th and Thursday, February 26th (8:30-3:30 both days). Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, Boylston. Register Here (by February 18th)


    Still Seeking Examples of DDMs
    CES hopes to see example of District Determined Measures (DDMs) for Social Studies.
    Email YOUR examples to rcairn@collaborative.org.

    @EmergingAmerica – Follow Emerging America Tweets when I go to the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Boston – Nov. 21-23.


    UMass Amherst – CES History InstituteRegister by Dec. 15
    K-12 Teachers can earn 10 PDPs and $50 gift card for attending any two Feinberg Lectures plus two sessions at CES in Northampton, January 22 and February 26 – 4:30-7:00pm.
    Additional sessions to be scheduled!:
    We are asking permission to add the following to the series:
    Tues., Dec. 9, 4:00pm – Center for the Yiddish Book: “So how do you like America?”: How a Generation of Immigrants Transformed the Nation’s Culture. Discussion for middle & high school teachers – Josh Lambert, academic director at the Center, and visiting professor of English at UMass Amherst. Pre-registration required.
    And/or document that you watched videos on the UMass Amherst History Department YouTube channel.)
    The gender and immigration conference in January is Thursday, Feb. 26 and Friday, Feb. 27, NOT Friday and Saturday.
    There is a scheduled Feinberg Lecture April 6.

    How to Apply for National Endowment for the Humanities and other Top Level PD NationallyRegister for free session to learn about these amazing opportunities in the U.S. and overseas. TAKE AWAY: Notes of a draft of application. Dec. 3 – 4:00-5:00pm at CES in Northampton. NEH, Library of Congress, and other free national professional development programs.


    WWI Remembered – “Experiencing War”
    Meeting Magna Carta: Primary Sources about a[n] Historic Charter. See Library of Congress Magazine online on the topic.
    Native American History Month Resources


    Teaching Tolerance Video Kits – One of the best sets of materials for Social Studies – FREE!
    Explore racism, classism, sexism, bullying, and other challenging issues using documents and documentaries from this high integrity antiracism organization (i.e. Southern Poverty Law Center).

    Teaching about the Phoenicians
    A school district asked if I knew of good resources to teach about the Phoenicians. (Mass Frameworks 6th Grade.)
    What do YOU recommend?
    Jessica Johnson, UMass Dept. of History suggested the following. What do you think of these resources?
    Resources For History Teachers:
    Standard 7.17: https://resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com/7.17
    Standard 7.18: https://resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com/7.18
    Standard 7.44: https://resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com/7.44

    HISTORY eNEWS Vol. 1, Issue 13 for NOVEMBER 14, 2014


    Seeking Examples of DDMs
    CES and a team of teachers is drafting state exemplar District Determined Measures (DDMs) for Geography-7th Grade. We will also develop a packet of exemplar DDMs for U.S. and World History–and possibly other subjects. Please help us by emailing YOUR examples in any subject of the Social Studies to rcairn@collaborative.org. (Indicate if I may share what you send.) Examples do not have to be perfect! We will learn from the variety. – Thanks!!

    Challenging yet practical blog post: Is it ever OK to tamper with the past? Altering primary sources to make them accessible. – Ken Wiebe

    History eNews now appears in the EmergingAmerica.org blog which gives a searchable archive.


    UMass Amherst – CES History InstituteFeinberg Lecture Series
    • Lecture: “The New Asylum Seekers,” Professor María Cristina García (Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies, Cornell University), Friday, November 14, 1pm, UMass Campus Center, Room 804.
    Register for PDPs
    K-12 Teachers can earn 10 PDPs and $50 gift card for attending any two Feinberg lectures plus two sessions at CES in Northampton, January 22 and February 26 – 4:30-7:00pm.
    NOTE: It is still not too late to register. To make up sessions, you will be able to document that you watched videos on the UMass Amherst History Department YouTube channel. Link to them through Feinberg Lectures webpage.

    How to apply for NEH Institutes – Register for free session to learn how to apply for amazing, free professional development programs across the U.S. and overseas. Dec. 3 – 4:00-5:00pm at CES in Northampton. NEH, Library of Congress, and other free national professional development programs.


    New TPS Journal available at: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/journal/teaching_with_fine_arts/.
    Issue theme – teaching with fine and performing arts related primary sources from the Library’s collection, across the curriculum. Feature article by Erin Elman and Sheila Watts from TPS at the University of the Arts. Elementary and secondary learning activities, links to articles and reports on art in instruction, and a Teacher Spotlight featuring fifth grade Pennsylvania teacher, Audrey Blust.

    Webinar – Tuesday, Nov. 18 – 4:00pm EST – Using Library of Congress Primary Sources to Engage Students in Inquiry Learning.

    Webinar – Univ. of Central Florida – Thursday, November 20 – 7:00-8:00pm EST – Using Emerging Technology to Enhance Engagement with Primary & Secondary Sources & Considering Multiple Perspectives & Historic Causation, Part 1.

    Library of Congress Teacher Blog:
    Meeting Magna Carta: Primary Sources about a[n] Historic Charter
    Native American Legal Struggles in Primary Sources


    Leventhal Map Center – Boston Public Library
    Nov. 15, 10:00am-12:00noon – Open House – Back to School: Geography in the Classroom

    Mass Historical Society Calendar
    Nov. 16 – 3:00-5:00pm – Film & Talk: The Better Angels – John Stauffer – Kendall Square Cinema, located at 355 Binney Street in Cambridge, Mass
    Nov. 17 – 6:00pm – Talk: Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father – Linford D. Fisher, Brown Univ & J. Stanley Lemons, Rhode Island College – Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston – $10

    Bill of Rights Institute
    Jan. 27, 2015 – 8:00am to 3:00pm – Preserving the Bill of Rights – Free workshop – Register

    EmergingAmerica.org eNews
    Weekly (Tuesdays) news and announcement of upcoming events.
    Reply to rcairn@collaborative.org if you wish to be removed from this list.
    Register for CES events.

    New Feature: Model Lesson Plans

    June 15, 2014 by | Comments Off

    Starting with this model lesson for Kindergarten, EmergingAmerica.org launches a new feature. Periodically, we will post exemplary inquiry-based lessons using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Contact us with feedback or your own drafts or suggestions for lesson ideas.”
    Rich Cairn, Director, Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program of the Collaborative for Educational Services

    What Do Trains Do? Kindergarten Lesson Plan

    Kwame Webster, Collaborative for Educational Services

    Demonstrations and Approaches


    Core academic subjects beyond reading and math often get pushed to the edges of the curriculum in the primary grades. Social studies and science can raise challenges because students typically lack contextual knowledge. Yet these subjects appeal strongly to some students. And even Kindergarten is not too early to begin scaffolding skills. The inquiry-based lesson, created by Jenn Murphy, New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Hampshire Regional School District: “What Do Trains Do?” equips teachers with tools to teach Kindergarteners to inquire about concepts of place and time, using often familiar imagery of trains and railroad tracks, and tying them to history, geography, and to their communities. In the lesson, maps of train tracks serve as a means to introduce the concept that primary source evidence can help us learn about our world and its past.

    The robust collection of United State Railroad Maps from the Library of Congress spans 72 years from 1828 – 1900, allowing teachers to introduce aspects of time and history in the lesson. Most maps are quite detailed, allowing teachers to zoom in to students’ hometowns for recognition of place. Students learn to ask questions such as: Who made this map? What for? Why do we need trains? What do these maps tell us about trains? What do train tracks tell us about trains? The framework of the lesson connects Kindergarteners to higher levels of inquiry.

    Using selections from the large body of engaging children’s books about trains, the lesson provides students with background information that feeds inquiry and content creation. A combination of fiction and nonfiction texts allow teachers to help students to ask and answer questions about trains based on the stories. A visual organizer helps students to answer questions about trains and railroad tracks function, location, and description (era; steam or electric powered). From that foundation, students then begin to construct maps to feature the railroad tracks in their community. Students will know where to add railroad tracks on their maps by asking: What do maps show and what don’t they show? What information should be included on maps?

    This lesson provides a distinctive way to teach Social Studies standards to Kindergarteners that supports Common Core emphasis on primary sources and other informational texts. It also allows students to connect with their communities to engender personal scholarship.

    The 2014 History Institute, which is a collaboration between the UMass Department of History and the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton. The History Institute brings scholars to K-12 teachers to discuss the historical significance of current events. The lectures are free and open to the public.

    David Glassberg, “Learning from American Environmental History”
    Thursday, May 8, 2014
    Public Lecture: 4:30-5:30PM; Teacher Workshop: 6-7:00PM
    Collaborative for Educational Services, 97 Hawley St, Northampton, MA

    Listen to the Public Service Announcement:

    Watch a video of the presentation:

    Appy and Glassberg’s lectures were preceded by events earlier in the year by History Department faculty Mary Wilson and Audrey Altstadt. The videos of these lectures are available online.

    More information:

    Link to Press Release.