Yesterday’s post took a look at Teachinghistory.org’s free Civil War poster. Today’s post is taking a look at the websites “spotlights”. This is a newer series of resources that are intended to provide material to educators in conjunction with calendar events, both national holidays and anniversaries. For example, there are two spotlights currently available on the website–and the number will grow–one on Constitution Day and one on remembering 9/11. The content and the spotlights evolve and change throughout the year. Jennifer Rosenfeld, the Outreach Director at Teachinghistory.org, explains,
Our idea is to update the spotlights continuously throughout the year so they will be evolving over time as new content comes forward. For example, the “Constitution Day spotlight” will have all the material we have on that topic from our site, updated to include our most recent content additions. Teachers can access it year-round.
The Constitution Day spotlight contains lessonplans and links to other resources that provide creative means for teaching about the Constitution in various contexts. Featured are 1) a link to Colonial Williamsburg’s electronic field trips, featuring A More Perfect Union, available free for a limited time; 2) a lessonplan that considers the constitutional issues surrounding the Watergate scandal; and, 3) picking a civics textbook–the historian advises a good curriculum over a good textbook. Beyond this are additional Learning Resources, such as a link to the National Constitution Center and a link about the Federal Judiciary provided by Teachinghistory.org, Teaching Resources, such as the game “Do I have the Right?” and “Resources for Units on Early American Government”, and Quizzes.
The spotlight on 9/11 provides a compilation of resources. This is a great example of what Teachinghistory.org tries to provide: in addition to a great deal of original content, it also culls the internet and provides a one-stop shop for some of the web’s best tools. For this spotlight, they feature short reviews and links to websites devoted to the memory of 9/11: 1) the first review is of “The Sonic Memorial Project” website, which focuses on the sounds that mark the history of the World Trade Center; 2) next is a review of the “September 11 Digital Archive” website, focused on stories people shared; and, finally, 3) is actually a blog post by eighth grade teacher Elizabeth Schaefer who shared her lessonplan on a 9/11 project that teaches students not only about events they cannot remember, but of which all the adults in their life can, and also useful skills employed by historians to learn about past events. Here, again, there are additional, Learning Resources, Teaching Resources and, for 9/11, Remember and Reflect resources.
This is one of the real advantages in using Teachinghistory.org: not only are there great materials for learning history, there are also teaching approaches for historical method. Not only does this make the subject more interesting for students, it also makes it more memorable, and the hands-on approach teaches essential citizenship skills that are highly applicable beyond the history classroom and an assortment of names and dates on recall.
(Note: the content on these spotlights changes with regularity, so do not be surprised if I have highlighted material that has been cycled–it is still there, it may simply no longer be on the featured content box.)
Visit the Constitution Day’s spotlight at this link: http://teachinghistory.org/spotlight/constitution-day
Visit the 9/11 spotlight at this link: http://teachinghistory.org/spotlight/september11