In 1975, the United Nations declared March to be International Women’s History Month and March 8 International Women’s Day. Later, in 1981, several women’s groups convinced Congress to declare a national Women’s History Week in the United States. In 1987, after lobbying by the National Women’s History Project, Congress expanded the week to a month.
The point is pretty obvious. March gives us a chance to take a very intentional look at the impact of women in history. It’s also a great time to examine how we can all work together to improve the rights and living conditions of women and girls around the world. But like other history months, don’t let March fool you. This is not a one time thing. Like I said back in February:
Too many of us still use February to have kids memorize random black history facts and call it good. (We also seem to have a habit of doing the same thing with women’s history and Latino history and Asian American history and Native American history and . . . well, you get the idea.)
Integrating the beliefs, values, actions, and impact of women into our content is an ongoing, year long process. But it’s a habit we need to get into and it can sometimes be difficult finding resources to plan lessons and units around.
Need a few starters? Kick off your research here Read more
You all know photographer Dorothea Lange. If not Dorothea herself, you’ll recognize her famous candid photos taken during the 1930s highlighting the struggles of Americans suffering during the Great Depression. Her iconic Migrant Mother and the series of photos around that image depict the desperation many felt during the period.
Later in 1942, she was hired by the US government to capture images of the relocation of Japanese-Americans affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Thousands of American citizens were being stripped of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their homes before being placed in internment camps scattered around the country.
Lange was originally opposed to the idea but accepted the task because she thought “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” But after reviewing her photographs and their portrayal of the Japanese American experience, the military became concerned how the images of the internment program would be received by the public. Read more
The beauty of studying history is that you can never learn it all. There’s always something new to discover. A fresh piece of evidence. Another interpretation. A person or event or idea that has always been there . . . just waiting to be uncovered.
Maybe it’s a small discovery that changes how you personally understand the world. This week I learned that Paul Revere was an amateur dentist. (And if you’re like me, there’s now an image in your head of Revere on a horse – “The cavities are coming! The cavities are coming!”)
Not earth-shattering. But still cool.
And then there are those people and events that are just a bit bigger and should change how we all see the world. The movie and book Hidden Figures are like that.
Seriously? How did that slip by?
African American women calculating aeronautical and astronomical math, helping push the United States into space? In the Jim Crow South? Now that’s cool. And powerful. And part of the American story. But up until the last few years, the story of people like Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson was relatively unknown and certainly not mentioned in any of the history classes I ever took.
Which brings us to February.
And Black History Month.
I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was Read more
The National Humanities Center is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. And it’s got some handy resources that they’ve housed at a site called America in Class that has primary and secondary resources, webinars, and lessons for history and literature teachers.
According to the site, it’s designed to promote the analytical skills called for in the Common Core ELA / Literacy standards in History/Social Studies:
- identifying and evaluating textual evidence,
- determining central ideas,
- understanding the meanings of words,
- comprehending the structure of a text,
- recognizing an author’s point of view, and
- interpreting content presented in diverse media, including visual images.
You can find a variety of things at American in Class: Read more
Martin Luther King Day is next week and you’ve probably already finalized your lessons. Hopefully you’ve got multiple days built in to widen the discussion to US history, government, and current events. To help with your planning, take advantage of the different resources and ideas below. (Developed in part by the New York Times Learning Network.)
Start with a couple of Teaching Tolerance articles – Do’s and Don’ts of MLK Day and Going the Extra Mile. Then head over to the LOC. Read more
I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.
But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!
I’ve talked about Kevin Roughton a couple of times. Kevin’s a middle school teacher in California and is doing some cool stuff with his instruction. We’ve been talking the last few days about some earlier Historyball posts and during the conversation, he shared an interesting lesson he uses to teach historical bias and to encourage document analysis.
I asked if I could share and Kevin said sure. And I started thinking . . . what would this look like for me? Can I adapt this to fit what I do?
Because we often struggle trying to envision this sort of activity in actual practice, I think teachers sometimes revert back to what they know and feel comfortable with. And that’s not always a good thing. What we feel comfortable with isn’t always quality instruction.
So today’s tip? Read more