The AHA (American Historical Association) held its annual convention in Chicago last week from Thursday January 5th to Sunday the 8th. For secondary teachers, the convention offered the opportunity to catch up on the latest research and issues in the world of history education. It is also provided an opportunity to makes some professional and social connections, and pick up some new technical skills. Both Charlotte and Mark attended presentations and identified a couple professors to recruit for future NTC and TAS programs. On Thursday, I attended a THATCamp session - an “unconference” incorporating digital skills and the humanities sponsored by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The concept of an “unconference” is to create an agenda based on the participants’ interests, though there were a few sessions planned ahead of time, rather than a set agenda. It could have been intimidating atmosphere, since I am a relative newbie to the digital world (and don’t own a Mac), but the “leaders” encouraged a casual atmosphere and PC users were welcomed, though clearly pitied. One of the “created” sessions gave each of the attendees 5 minutes to teach a skill or explain a concept they thought would be handy to know. I learned a trick about doing a GIS map overlay using Google Earth. I also discovered a lot of cool programs that run on Mac. Too bad I’m a PC user. In addition to the “technical” sessions, I attended a grant writing session led by some NEH staff. This gave me some ideas about pursuing a digital technology grant- something that I would not have really considered before. For teachers already immersed in the digital world or even those just getting into technology, there is a THATCamp planned for K-12 teachers. I’ll pass along this information when I hear more.
On Saturday at AHA, I participated on a panel along with LeeAnn Potter from the National Archives (DocsTeach), Kelly Schrum from the Center for History and New Media (HistoryMatters), and Rick Mason and Andrew Sharos from Leyden High School. The topic was using digital tools in the history classroom. The presentation was an opportunity to demonstrate our new Digital Collections website,which is still under construction. (A screen shot accompanies this blog post.) I’m continually amazed by the quality and quantity of tools available to teachers today, and have been inspired to embrace the digital world. To that end, I’m attempting to learn to write HTML and at least to read CSS, joined the Twitter universe, and have even started my own blog. OK, not cutting edge, but I’m giving it a try! Learning more about digital tools and new ways to access and share information is personally empowering and good professional practice. Being able to share this information with teachers will not only benefit the students and student learning, and it is also valuable and necessary professional development.
Some upcoming teacher programs to note. On Friday, February 24, CASE (Council for American Studies Education) will be hosting its annual meeting at the Newberry. I attended the program last year at the Chicago History Museum and was impressed with the offerings and the attendance, and am excited to host the event this year. The theme of this year’s interdisciplinary conference is “America Imagined” with the intent of exploring the dreams and realities of life in America. The conference includes a key note address by John Musial of the Looking Glass Theater as well as number of teacher and PD provider-led breakout sessions. Registration is still available. Check the program website for more information.
On Friday, March 2, the Newberry’s Daniel Greene will be leading a History Channel Seminar Series program on Immigration and Citizenship. The registration for this full-day session is closed, but you can get access to the readings and the digital collection for the seminar on our site. There will be a third History Channel Seminar, “Anti-Statism and Individual Liberty” offered on May 25 and led by Jim Sparrow of the University of Chicago. There are still spots available. For more information about the program go to our web page.
Saturday, March 10th, from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Alex Barna (Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago) and Prof. Mandy Terk will lead a session for teachers on the Arab Spring (with an focus on Syria) at the Newberry. There is no cost to attend and CPDUs will be provided. Registration will be limited to 20. I will send out an email and flyer within the week with more details.
Rachel Rooney, Director of Professional Development Programs for Teachers