Monthly Archives: April 2012

Student drama brings War of 1812 home

Student drama brings War of 1812 home –

A model of the fort as it appeared during the War of 1812.

I think theater is one of the most under-utilized history teaching tools available to teachers.  That’s why I got so excited about the performances covered by the Baltimore Sun, linked above.  Students from the Baltimore School for the Arts wrote and performed “Fighting for Freedom” about the War of 1812:

The cast and crew, all sophomores at the Mount Vernon school, researched the archives at the Maryland Historical Society for insights into the war that many call the nation’s second struggle for independence. They visited the fort several times and drew characters from ordinary people, rather than from the few made famous by the war.

~ Mary Gail Hare, “Student drama brings War of 1812 home,” The Baltimore Sun

The effort of developing a character based on a historical person, requires research into the primary sources available for that person.  It requires leaving behind one’s own world and trying to access the strangeness and differences of another culture.  While local Marylanders may be well-acquainted with life by the Chesapeake Bay, the world of Maryland during the War of 1812 is still a foreign land, beholden to rules of a different era and expectations that have been left behind in a pre-Civil War/pre-Civil Rights, pre-WWI/pre-WWII America.

Their research unearthed one Maryland militiaman’s letters home, accounts that inspired one of the scenes. Alexandra Morrell, clad in a floral dress that designer Erin Beuglass had created from a curtain, read her husband’s letters to their daughter as their enslaved servant girl shared their concerns. Students developed a love story subplot between the servant and the household’s enslaved wagoner. The scene ended with the young man pleading with the girl to run away.

“It will be hard for her to leave the family, but I think she will run off with her man to freedom,” said T’Pre Mayer, who portrayed both the girl’s hesitation and her love.

Lance Strickland, who played her suitor, said, “The war affected everybody, not just the people in history books, but even the slaves.”

~ Ibid.

The conflict of 1812, is also a different type of conflict, in many ways, than what we have become accustomed to in the modern U.S.  The War of 1812 is the only war visited upon the United States, and outside of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, the only time the United States suffer attacks among the states, themselves.  One has only the Civil War and the colonial wars (and the Indian wars) to turn to for a similar sense of foreign aggressors in and among American homes, cities, and waterways.

This sort of production helps to introduce a narrative that is an authentic representation of that foreign world.  As NPS Ranger Vince Vaise is quoted saying in “the show fills in historical gaps with credible fiction.  ‘These kids are telling untold and more inclusive stories,” he said. “They show what average people were talking about in the Fells Point coffeehouses. They really have blown the dust off the history books. The school, the fort and the historical society give us a real powerhouse of history right here.'”  Emphasizing the other side of this project that I so admire: collaboration.  The archives are here, and the students and teacher put them to innovative and productive use!  (Extra props for using the name of the blog, Ranger Vaise!)

Such insights fulfilled instructors’ expectations for the project, said Norah Worthington, a costume design teacher, who wrote a pirate scene and worked with the 24 sophomores involved in the production.

“They put together a picture of what those of that era faced,” she said. “They focused on everyday people, not the famous, and showed how events affected them. The stories make the war personal.”

The drama helped the teenagers understand the local significance, too, she said.

“The scenes played out on streets these students walk every day,” Worthington said.

One scene focuses on the riots that broke out on city streets. Again, the students presented a new perspective — that of an assertive woman. Calla Fuqua played the normally docile wife of a shipping merchant, prompted by the war to disagree publicly with her husband. Their encounter occurred on Charles Street, where she finds him safe after a night of rioting.

“The war was about freedom of speech, bringing Canada into the union and impressing American sailors,” she said. “I think even the women had to speak up.”

~ Ibid.

This is a new day for these students, many of whom may have had no interest in history before the project who have now experienced it on multiple levels: 1) they have experienced researching history–just as historians do–with primary sources; and 2) they have created an experience of the historical era through their performance, introducing themselves and viewers to the people of a foreign time in our community’s history; introducing them to the concerns about conflict; introducing them to the mores of a society that continued to grapple with slavery, a young government, and other problems that we sometimes struggle to relate to otherwise.

We should be doing more of this sort of learning.  Take the talents that students have or are eager to develop and make use of them in education.

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Final Descent, A retrospective on NASA’s Space Shuttle program

I wrote previously about witnessing history when my daughter and I went down to the National Mall to see the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery and then went down to the Udvar-Hazy Annex of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to see it touch noses with the Enterprise before being installed permanently.  NASA was out in full force for installation ceremony along with many former astronauts.  It is bittersweet to see the shuttle era end, but well worth reviewing some of the highlights of the program’s history.

1981 – A new space era dawns

In 1981, the Space Shuttle era began, retiring the Apollo model of space exploration.  Instead of one-time use, the new Space Shuttles, beginning with the Space Shuttle Columbia, would take off, land just as many of the experimental X-vehicles had done, and then be ready for relaunch–the iconic image of the shuttle attached to two rocket boosters and one enormous fuel tank.  It was perfectly designed for in-orbit missions and working with the International Space Station.

Once it concluded its mission, the pilots would set the coordinates for unpowered landing–in other words, it became like a 100-ton glider aimed at dried lakebed at Edwards, California.  Once landed, the engines would be removed and shipped back to Cape Canaveral, while the shuttle would be lifted onto the modified 747 that would fly it home (just like it is seen in the video above).  NASA teams would go over the shuttle to confirm that nothing was amiss after the stresses of takeoff, mission completion, and re-entry, in preparation for the next launch.  This is why the Space Shuttle was different.

1980s – Challenges

In light of miscalculations on the cost of the shuttle, launch, return, refurbishment, and reuse, NASA pushed itself, setting records that still stand today, by launching 9 missions in 1985.  The second launch of 1986 was that of the Challenger.  The margin for error is practically non-existent in launching a Space Shuttle, and that Challenger launch was sadly flawed.

Up to this point, there had been 24 successful missions flown by Space Shuttles ColumbiaChallenger, Discovery, and Atlantis that launched communications satellites, Spacelabs, mammals, foreign crew members, and whose flight time lasted as little as 2 days, 6 hours, and 13 minutes (2nd launch, Columbia, 11/12/81, Joe H. Engle and Richard H. Truly) to as long as 10 days, 7 hours, and 47 minutes (9th launch, Columbia, 11/28/83, John W. Young, Brewster H. Shaw, Owen K. Garriott, Robert A. R. Parker, Byron K. Lichtenberg, Ulf Merbold, West German–1st non-U.S. astronaut).  This time, however, with American History teacher and the primary candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Program, Christa McAuliffe on board, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take-off.  Across the country, American school students were watching in their classrooms.  None of the crew survived.


Mission Time                             Elapsed
(GMT, in hr:min:sec)     Event           Time (secs.)    Source
16:37:53.444  ME-3  Ignition Command              -6.566  GPC
   37:53.564  ME-2  Ignition Command              -6.446  GPC
   37:53.684  ME-1  Ignition Command              -6.326  GPC
   38:00.010  SRM Ignition Command (T=0)           0.000  GPC
   38:00.018  Holddown Post 2 PIC firing           0.008  E8 Camera
   38:00.260  First Continuous Vertical Motion     0.250  E9 Camera
   38:00.688  Confirmed smoke above field joint
              on RH SRM                            0.678  E60 Camera
   38:00.846  Eight puffs of smoke (from 0.836
                thru 2.500 sec MET)                0.836  E63 Camera
   38:02.743  Last positive evidence of smoke
              above right aft SRB/ET attach ring   2.733  CZR-1 Camera
   38:03.385  Last positive visual indication 
                  of smoke                         3.375  E60 Camera
   38:04.349  SSME 104% Command                    4.339  E41M2076D
   38:05.684  RH SRM pressure 11.8 psi above
                nominal                            5.674  B47P2302C
   38:07.734  Roll maneuver initiated              7.724  V90R5301C
   38:19.869  SSME 94% Command                    19.859  E41M2076D
   38:21.134  Roll maneuver completed             21.124  VP0R5301C
   38:35.389  SSME 65% Command                    35.379  E41M2076D
   38:37.000  Roll and Yaw Attitude Response to
              Wind (36.990 to 62.990 sec)         36.990  V95H352nC
   38:51.870  SSME 104% Command                   51.860  E41M2076D
   38:58.798  First evidence of flame on RH SRM   58.788  E207 Camera
   38:59.010  Reconstructed Max Q (720 psf)       59.000  BET
   38:59.272  Continuous well defined plume
                    on RH SRM                     59.262  E207 Camera
   38:59.763  Flame from RH SRM in +Z direction
              (seen from south side of vehicle)   59.753  E204 Camera
   39:00.014  SRM pressure divergence (RH vs. LH) 60.004  B47P2302
   39:00.248  First evidence of plume deflection,
                intermittent                      60.238  E207 Camera
   39:00.258  First evidence of SRB  plume
              attaching to ET ring frame          60.248  E203 Camera
   39:00.998  First evidence of plume deflection,
               continuous                         60.988  E207 Camera
   39:01.734  Peak roll rate response to wind     61.724  V90R5301C
   39:02.094  Peak TVC response to wind           62.084  B58H1150C
   39:02.414  Peak yaw response to wind           62.404  V90R5341C
   39:02.494  RH outboard elevon actuator hinge
               moment spike                       62.484  V58P0966C
   39:03.934  RH outboard elevon actuator delta
                pressure change                   63.924  V58P0966C
   39:03.974  Start of planned pitch rate
                maneuver                          63.964  V90R5321C
   39:04.670  Change in anomalous plume shape
              (LH2 tank leak near 2058 ring
              frame)                              64.660  E204 Camera
   39:04.715  Bright sustained glow on sides
               of ET                              64.705  E204 Camera
   39:04.947  Start SSME gimbal angle large
                pitch variations                  64.937  V58H1100A 
   39:05.174  Beginning of transient motion due
                to changes in aero forces due to
                plume                             65.164  V90R5321C
   39:06.774  Start ET LH2 ullage pressure
               deviations                         66.764  T41P1700C
   39:12.214  Start divergent yaw rates
               (RH vs. LH SRB)                    72.204  V90R2528C
   39:12.294  Start divergent pitch rates
               (RH vs. LH SRB)                    72.284  V90R2525C
   39:12.488  SRB major high-rate actuator
                command                           72.478  V79H2111A
   39:12.507  SSME roll gimball rates 5 deg/sec   72.497  V58H1100A
   39:12.535  Vehicle max +Y lateral
               acceleration (+.227 g)             72.525  V98A1581C
   39:12.574  SRB major high-rate actuator
              motion                              72.564  B58H1151C
   39:12.574  Start of H2 tank pressure decrease
              with 2 flow control valves open     72.564  T41P1700C
   39:12.634  Last state vector downlinked       72.624 Data reduction
   39:12.974  Start of sharp MPS LOX inlet
              pressure drop                       72.964  V41P1330C
   39:13.020  Last full computer frame of TDRS
                 data                            73.010 Data reduction
   39:13.054  Start of sharp MPS LH2 inlet
              pressure drop                       73.044  V41P1100C
   39:13.055  Vehicle max -Y lateral
                accelerarion (-.254 g)            73.045  V98A1581C
   39:13.134  Circumferential white pattern on
              ET aft dome (LH2 tank failure)      73.124  E204 Camera
   39:13.134  RH SRM pressure 19 psi lower
              than LH SRM                         73.124  B47P2302C
   39:13.147  First hint of vapor at intertank    E207 Camera
   39:13.153  All engine systems start responding
              to loss of fuel and LOX inlet
                pressure                          73.143  SSME team
   39:13.172  Sudden cloud a long ET between
              intertank and aft dome              73.162  E207 Camera
   39:13.201  Flash between Orbiter & LH2 tank    73.191  E204 Camera
   39:13.221  SSME telemetry data interference
              from 73.211 to 73.303               73.211
   39:13.223  Flash near SRB fwd attach and
               brightening of flash between
               Orbiter and ET                     73.213  E204 Camera
   39:13.292  First indication intense white
              flash at SRB fwd attach point       73.282  E204 Camera
   39:13.337  Greatly increased intensity of
               white flash                        73.327  E204 Camera
   39:13.387  Start RCS jet chamber pressure
                fluctuations                      73.377  V42P1552A
   39:13.393  All engines approaching HPFT
              discharge temp redline limits       73.383  E41Tn010D
   39:13.492  ME-2 HPFT disch. temp Chan. A vote
             for shutdown; 2 strikes on Chan. B   73.482  MEC data
   39:13.492  ME-2 controller last time word
                update                            73.482  MEC data
   39:13.513  ME-3 in shutdown due to HPFT discharge
              temperature redline exceedance      73.503  MEC data
   39:13.513  ME-3 controller last time word
                 update                           73.503  MEC data
   39:13.533  ME-1 in shutdown due to HPFT discharge
              temperature redline exceedance      73.523  Calculation
   39:13.553  ME-1 last telemetered data point    73.543  Calculation
   39:13.628  Last validated Orbiter telemetry
              measurement                         73.618  V46P0120A
   39:13.641  End of last reconstructured data 
              frame with valid synchronization
              and frame count                    73.631 Data reduction
   39:14.140  Last radio frequency signal from
                Orbiter                          74.130 Data reduction
   39:14.597  Bright flash in vicinity of Orbiter
                nose                             74.587  E204 Camera
   39:16.447  RH SRB nose cap sep/chute 
                deployment                       76.437  E207 Camera
   39:50.260  RH SRB RSS destruct               110.250  E202 Camera
   39:50.262  LH SRB RSS destruct               110.252  E230 Camera

The destruction put the program on hold for 32 months while the accident was investigated and NASA spent time reflecting on how to better protect its people.  On September 29, 1988, the Discovery returned to the launch pad and space.  The following year, Atlantis, would launch the Venus orbiter Magellan from its orbit around the Earth, and on a subsequent mission, the Jupiter probe and orbiter, Galileo.

1990s – A decade for science exploration

On April 24, 1990, the third shuttle mission of the new decade, Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope, then would later launch the Ulysses spacecraft to investigate interstellar space and the Sun.  This initiated a number of research craft for NASA (this does not include all experiments, merely the deployment of research equipment):

  • Gamma Ray Observatory (Atlantis, 4/5/91, 39th STS flight)
  • Spacelab Life Sciences (Columbia, 6/5/91, 41st STS flight)
  • Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (Discovery, 9/12/91, 43rd STS flight)
  • International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (Discovery, 1/22/92, 45th STS flight)
  • Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science, ATLAS-1 (Atlantis, 3/24/92, 46th STS flight)
  • U.S. Microgravity Laboratory-1 (Columbia, 6/25/92, 48th STS flight)
  • Laser Geodynamics Satellite (Columbia, 10/22/92, 51st STS flight)
  • ATLAS-1 (Discovery, 4/8/93, 54th STS flight)
  • … and many more.

The highlights arguably being the International Space Station and the Mir Space Station, from 1995 – to the present.  By the close of the decade, December 19, 1999, the program had reached 96 missions.

"Mosaic of Journey" by 7th grader Grace Chandler, from Woodbury MN (photographed at the installation ceremony)

2000s – 100 and beyond

The 100th mission, flown by Discovery on October 11, 2000, delivered the first piece of the backbone structure of the ISS.  Going into the 21st Century, the Space Shuttle underwent a series of improvements for safety and function, streamlining weight and processes.  Despite this, on February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia re-entered in the Earth’s atmosphere, following a 17-day science mission, and exploded over the lower half of the United States.

That morning I was standing next to the runway [at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida] with [NASA Administrator] Sean O’Keefe.  We were right next to the bleachers with the families, waiting for Columbia to come home.  We were all watching the countdown clock.  We didn’t have access to TV.  The clock was getting down to where I expected we’d have radar lock-on, tracking cameras, all those kinds of things being announced.  The only thing I’m hearing is comm[unications] checks over the voice loop.  Then we get five minutes prior to touchdown, and no sigh of them nothing.  They’re still doing comm checks.  At that point I went back to the car and got my contingency folder that I carry with me everywhere, and I said to Sean, “I think something really bad has happened.  They’re certainly not landing here.”

Shortly thereafter the phones started ringing, with reports that debris had been sighted over east Texas.  So we collected up the families and took them to the crew quarters, and got them comfortable.  We started working on what we thought might be a search-and-rescue plan, but it soon became apparent that it was a search-and-recovery.

~William Readdy, Space Shuttle, 1981-2011, Air & Space Smithsonian

The Space Shuttle program would continue after another pause, investigation, and reflection until 2005.  The ship that launched the Space Shuttle program into orbit in 1981, was lost along with its crew of seven.

By this time, Discovery had already surpassed Columbia in missions, making it the most traveled relic of the Space Shuttle era.

2010-2011 – Final descent into history

There would be six final missions, with the Shuttles Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis would each fly a final two missions.

Number of missions:

Discovery —– 39

Atlantis ——– 33

Columbia —— 28*

Endeavor —— 25

Challenger —– 10*

* includes ill-fated final mission

~ Ibid.

Today, the Discovery has replaced the Enterprise, which never flew in space but was used to test the Shuttle’s atmospheric flight, at the Udvar-Hazy Annex of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.  When it flew into the DC area, we caught above footage in front of the Capitol.  Below are photos from the installation ceremony, before Enterprise was finally able to get up to New York, NY after several weather delays.

Welcome Space Shuttle DISCOVERY!

Space-voyager DISCOVERY approaches the experimental ENTERPRISE

Touching noses!

The future of NASA's manned Space Exploration?

For more information about what’s next, visit:

DISCOVERY'S new home!


NASA publications and website

Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine, Collector’s Edition, Space Shuttle, 1981-2011.

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The Shuttle Discovery has landed: Witnessing history

Witnessing history

The Space Shuttle program was cleared for takeoff in the same year I surprised my parents and was born.  I have a close attachment to the shuttles, having been an aerospace geek for most of my life.  I was one of the many, many school children who witnessed the Challenger explosion.  I spent years visiting the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.  I fell in love with Space Race history.  I joined the Civil Air Patrol.  I did my science project in 10th grade on the emerging aerospace programs–many of which have been scuttled in the demise of NASA’s man-in-space program.

I have hard time with this new reality.  It is probably a good thing, as robotics are cheaper and, at this time, more practical than deep space exploration expeditions.  With the potential of privatization, perhaps more opportunities will, in fact, develop.  Still, I miss it already.  We could never afford to send me to Space Camp, and now I wonder what is left for that program.  Does it still serve a purpose?  (Yes, but it moves away from the potential of piloting and weightlessness to robotics.)  My memories of the Kennedy Space Center are suddenly very precious to me.

So, leaving aside my sadness at the passing of an era and the twilight of many dreams, I asked my 13 year old daughter if she wanted to see it in person.  We were already planning to attend the delivery and installation at the Air and Space annex, the Udvar-Hazy facility near Dulles Airport, but did she want to see its final flight?  I was prepared to be answered in the negative, but she grasped that this was history unfolding before her eyes, and signed on to take the trip down to DC.

It had been my plan to watch the shuttle from Gravelly Point, VA, along the Mount Vernon bike trail.  As the Shuttle Discovery was flown in on the back of NASA’s specially rigged 747 without an obstacle or bad weather to slow her, we were crawling along the Washington-Baltimore Parkway (295) in halting stages.  The CBS radio news network kept updating us and our exit to get to 395 was jammed up just as reports were coming that the shuttle was approaching Capitol Hill and the National Mall.  I aborted the mission to Gravelly Point and redirected us to the National Mall.  Coming along Pennsylvania Avenue, SW, we saw the shuttle skim the tree tops in the distance.  I struggled to restrain myself knowing that DC has added traffic cameras, but was rewarded by getting the kid to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol with the camera while sought parking.

Once I parked, I scurried off to go find Xanthia and Discovery.  I found both!  The shuttle buzzed the Capitol 5 times!  We were on the Hill for 4 of those!  We were surrounded by fellow gawkers staring up, snapping pictures and filming Discovery, piggy-back-riding the 747, with a solitary F-16 Fighting Falcon in escort.

It was an incredibly rewarding experience.  I embraced my child-like joy in the moment of watching shuttle fly over the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.  The excitement of the moment overwhelmed the disappointment of the program’s final flight.

Some shots of Discovery's final flight, taken from the Capitol's reflecting pool

Note:  My daughter and I will be going to the Udvar-Hazy for the final installation and I will do a more in-depth blog on NASA’s Space Shuttle program at that time.  (Maybe even a Vlog!)  The better footage will also be featured then.  Above is the cell phone footage I took as I rushed from my parking space alongside the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art to the reflecting pool–where I sincerely hoped no one decided to abduct my kid during the oohing and ahhing.  Fortunately, Xan got some great footage of the shuttle and I will use that once I have edited it and posted it to YouTube.

April 19 is The Welcome Discovery Celebration.


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100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic

100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times –

100 Years Later Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times -

So, the Titanic has sailed back onto our horizons, for at least a little while.  The link above will take you to the New York Times education page.  On it, you will find links to primary sources from the Titanic’s sinking, including articles from the paper’s archives.  There are a variety of suggestions, such as: making scrapbooks or mock Facebook pages (try which are neat ideas–easily incorporated into an existing history program or as a stand alone activity.  And, this brings up an important decision for history teachers wanting to do something with the Titanic.

What are you doing with the Titanic: Is it an opportunity to take advantage of history being covered in the news, or does it work well with what you are covering in your class already, or is it something that you simply feel compelled to cover, or is it a means to actually cover current events?  Another relevant question: Are you going to simply do a fact-finding project, a history project driven by a particular question, or a project that evaluates other disciplines either in an isolated way or in a multi-disciplined approach, such as science, engineering, or sea-exploration?

I always consider the anniversaries of particular events as interesting opportunities in teaching history, but they are also potentially awkward prospects that could unsettle the flow of the class if they do not fit in logically. Sometimes there is no real way to introduce these moments without a natural gap, such as in-class activities just before a major test or due date while students are working on tasks at home, or immediately after such a date when students are a bit exhausted.

Of course, if you are already discussing the era, then so much the better.  This is a great opportunity to evaluate Edwardian issues of class, the lingering perception of invincibility for imperialists and innovators of industry, the era’s perceptions of gender, an evaluation of the early 20th century’s media and connection with perceptions of disaster, or a more general consideration of communication developments in the age.

One of the resource links from the NY Times article: RMS Titanic Victims of the Titanic Disaster

If you are going to utilize the Titanic tragedy in class, do it with a purpose.  Be cognizant of the event’s social and cultural cache.  It may be the perfect moment to capture and wow students with a degree of interest that is sometimes hard to achieve in history classes.  Try assigning each student a person through the stories, wooing them into the drama of the past.  Provide them with multi-media sources to explore the moments they are reading about.

If your student, Tommy, reads about a young lady who gushed over dancing in the ballroom and seeing the view from her balcony, and then let him explore the underwater scene of the ballroom, today, there is a real opportunity to draw him into an experience he may have never had before.

If your student, Natalie, follows the excitement and worries of a family who put everything into this trip to immigrate to America and their struggles to keep the family together during the tragedy, complete with subsequent census records for the family after the survivors made it to the States, she may develop an interest in the nitty-gritty she never knew she was capable of sharing.

If your student, Devon, takes a look at one of the socialites who is in the newspapers leading up to the voyage and then considers his or her experience during the voyage and its disaster, they will get a personal “in” and learn a little bit about class status in the era.

This is a potential trigger moment, that can really open the world of the past in a way that other events often do not, especially for older students who are more likely to know something about the Titanic.

Titanic 100 Years -- National Geographic Channel

Additional resources:

The NY Times piece from above: 100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times –

The BBC has interviews with survivors–great primary sources, but don’t forget the effect of history and time impacting the memory of those interviewed. provides a useful movie review of the James Cameron’s Titanic which is short enough to be used easily in conjunction with the movie (also complement the Hollywood experience with primary sources!!). offers some tech resources for Titanic lesson plans.

Larry Ferlazzo also has a collection of “The Best Sites for Learning About the Titanic.”

The History Channel’s website also has a series of articles, clips and interactive materials on its Titanic Topic’s page.

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Hooded penitents in Spain illustrate our need of history in understanding culture

Hooded penitents take part in Holy Week processions in Spain – Telegraph.

These images (from the Telegraph) will not translate well for an American audience.  The appearance of the hooded penitents will conjure a direct association to the KKK for most of us.  It is, however, an inaccurate association, despite how readily we will all make it.

The photographs are a perfect illustration of how much we depend on history in making sense of what we see in foreign encounters, cultures and texts.  How difficult is it to make sense of things that are foreign to us?  Do we immediately jump to snap judgments or do we look for sources and background on what we are seeing?  History teaches us the skill.

A knowledge of history will also provide a logical intervention preventing snap errors in our judgment.

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Find my article in Chesapeake Family Magazine, now out!

"Digging into Maryland's Past" by Erika Franz

I am pleased to announce that the April issue of Chesapeake Family Magazine is out!  In it is my article “Digging into Maryland’s Past,” featuring opportunities in Maryland to get families into history by getting their hands dirty.  There are multiple programs in the area for kids and families to give archaeology a try and get to know a little bit more about the local and regional history.  (Talk about experiential learning!)

Check it out!  The magazines are located at numerous sites where families typically go: libraries, ice rinks, youth centers, waiting rooms, grocery stores, etc.  Lots of great family stuff inside–including my article!  (Archived issues are available on the website in .PDF format.  Visit

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How to Raise a Marylander — a REQUEST for written guides to your state, city or region!

How to Raise a Marylander.

This article (linked above) was posted online at the Chesapeake Family Magazine’s website.  It covers the cultural “musts” for the children raised in the region.  This includes recreation, history, cuisine, and more.  We should all make such a list–maybe even more detailed–about our regions and states!  It’s a great help for transplants like my family, and also a point of pride for locals (although, I stray at the bottom when they start talking about sports teams, somethings are irreplaceable).

I would love to see your guides to raising residents of your state, city or region!  E-mail me ( 100-250 word guide about the food, places, history and experiences that are must for the place you know and love best!  Bloggers, home-schoolers and student submissions welcome!!  I will post them on the blog.  See the directions below:

  1. Put “How to Raise a ___” (using your state, region or city in the blank) into the subject heading.
  2. Type or copy and paste your submission into the e-mail body with any pictures.  DO NOT ATTACH ANYTHING TO THE E-MAIL.
  3. Include a brief bio about yourself, max. 50 words.
  4. Look for a reply from in your inbox to confirm receipt and to let you know if I will be posting it on the blog.  If I do post your submission on the blog, I will categorize it under “Guest posts” with your bio and give you credit.
  5. Have fun!


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Filed under Experiences, Experiencing History - Project Based Learning, Food, Games, Travel