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Posts from the ‘president’ Category

4 things I learned during my #civilwarsupertour

Maybe it’s there.

Maybe it’s not.

But we had to go either way, just to say we did. Because it’s not very often that you get the chance to view the burial site of someone’s arm.

So we followed a dirt road off the main highway down to Ellwood Manor near the Chancellorsville battlefield. We had a great tour of the house, discussed why Union general Sheridan hated his fellow general Sedgwick, and examined the cannon balls embedded in a preserved tree trunk.

And then . . . the arm cemetery.

On May 2, 1863, during an evening scouting ride, Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was shot multiple times by his own troops. His left arm was amputated and he died days later from pneumonia. But military chaplain Tucker Lacy didn’t think that the arm of such a Confederate rock star should end up in a pile of limbs of lesser men. So he wrapped the arm in a blanket and took it to the family cemetery at Ellwood. The chaplain gave the limb a standard Christian burial and placed a marker above the site.

The arm is still there. At least the marker is. Urban legends suggest multiple attempts at reburials including one by a Marine Corps general in the 1920s. After conversations and research, the National Park Service staff there aren’t so sure.

But it was an interesting side trip as a part of the larger Wiebe family Civil War Battlefield Extravaganza. Inspired by Tony Horowitz’s book Confederates in the Attic, three of us spent ten days last month exploring multiple sites, battlefields, and that one cemetery with the arm.

It’s was awesome.

As a self-described history nerd, what better way to spend part of May tramping around places like Gettysburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Harpers Ferry, and Corydon, Indiana? I’ve got pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

But how about four things I learned instead? Read more

Teaching Toolkit: 9 resources for discussing the government shutdown

As a poly sci junkie, I’m torn.

The 2018 government shutdown is bad for just about everybody. And it seems like it happened over something that most Americans want to see happen – protection for Dreamers. A Fox News poll says 86% of us support DACA. A CBS poll reports 87% supporting the idea.

But the shutdown does create an opportunity to jump into all sorts of conversations involving civics and procedure and policy and elections and checks and balances and three branches and  media bias . . . well, you get the idea. If you haven’t already, this week might be a good time to jump ship on your scheduled curriculum and spend some time making connections to the government side of the social studies.

Need a few quick resources? Read more

Primary sources, personal stories, and thank you Internet

It’s always fun having my kids around during the summer. We chat about books, take short trips, discuss politics, argue about gardening techniques, and they make fun of my love for the Kansas City Royals.

The youngest one heads back to school in Minnesota in a few weeks. She’s been busy this summer selling snow cones and working in the local library. And . . . wait for it . . .

. . . she’s also spent two days a week as an National Archives unpaid intern at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. How cool is that? The other day, she got the one on one backstage pass tour of stored artifacts. She knows I love the golf so she made sure to share how, among other things, she held Dwight’s Augusta National member’s green jacket. And his favorite golf hat.

You know. Just rubbing my nose in it.

But she’s also come home excited about Read more

Tip of the Week: More Election Resources Than You’ll Ever Need But Will Probably Look at Anyway

For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.

And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.

Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more

10 things you probably don’t know about Abraham Lincoln

It’s February 12. And we all know what that means.

“Time to go buy Valentine candy?”

Uh . . . no.

It’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthdate. Everyone knows this. Well, maybe not everyone. But for me, Lincoln’s birthday has always been one of the highlights of the year. Seriously. For as long as I can remember, February 12 has been a big day for me.

Lincoln has always been my favorite president. I can remember doing research, if you can call looking at his picture in the L volume of World Book Encyclopedia research, in first grade. And my appreciation for him has only grown since elementary school.

I grew up with the traditional rags to riches story of a self-made man, growing up in the wilds of the American west and becoming president. But he’s become much more complex as I’ve had the chance to spend time with him. Perhaps one of the most powerful professional learning experiences I have ever had was spending a week at Gettysburg College with historian Gabor Boritt.

Lincoln is more than just a tall guy with a really good media team. More than a guy who walked three miles in the rain to return six cents in change and who split wood to make fences.

So today . . . ten things you probably didn’t know about Abraham Lincoln. Read more

#SOTU, wordles, and historical thinking

Tough choice. Today is Kansas Day. Last night was the 2014 State of the Union address.

What to write about? I mean . . . it’s Kansas Day. How cool is that? Renovated capitol building. Cool resources. Buffalo. Sunflowers. Wide open spaces.

But it’s the #SOTU. How cool is that? As an old poly sci major, there’s nothing like listening to a good political speech. Heck, sometimes even the bad ones are fun. And the 2014 State of the Union had the best of everything – all three branches of government in one place, cranky opposition, pundits, social media, Sarah Palin references, multiple GOP / Tea Party responses, and no out of control yelling from the audience.

So today you Kansas Day fans are on your own.

How best to use last night’s festivities? Some thoughts: Read more