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Posts tagged ‘revolutionary war’

Top Ten Posts of 2016 #3: Hamilton the musical: Non-traditional literacy and historical thinking

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!


 

For the last few years, I’ve come to depend on my own kids to keep me up to date on the latest pop culture stuff. Jake shares his favorite music and books. Erin makes sure I’m connected with fads such as the Hunger Games phenomenon and art trends.

The most recent update from my kids? The Hamiltonhamilton logo musical.

If you don’t have my kids around to help you keep up with all of the latest happenings, here’s a one-sentence heads up. It’s a Broadway musical that follows Alexander Hamilton from the time he leaves the Caribbean to his death in that duel with Aaron Burr.

And, yes, I can hear you thinking all the way over here. Read more

Hamilton the musical: Non-traditional literacy and historical thinking

For the last few years, I’ve come to depend on my kids to keep me up to date on the latest pop culture stuff. Jake shares his favorite music and books. Erin makes sure I’m connected with fads such as the Hunger Games phenomenon and art trends.

The most recent update from my kids? The Hamilton musical.

If you don’t have my kids around to help you keep up with all of the latest happenings, here’s a one-sentence heads up. It’s a Broadway musical that follows Alexander Hamilton from the time he leaves the Caribbean to his death in that duel with Aaron Burr.

And, yes, I can hear you thinking all the way over here.

Broadway musical? Really? How is that gonna help me teach American history?

First, we should always Read more

Turn, Washington’s spies, and historical thinking

I was able to catch just a part of the first episode last Sunday of the AMC’s new series, Turn. Looks pretty good –

The show is based on the real-life Culper Ring—a spy ring organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge under the guidance of General Washington that was tasked with reporting on British activities in New York and Connecticut. And based on reviews of upcoming episodes, we’re gonna see more early American water torture, espionage/spycraft, politicking, a little bit of a murder-mystery thrown in, and some fairly graphic battle scenes.

AMC is the channel that gave us Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. So . . . I’m not sure I would plan on showing entire episodes to my 5th graders. But I do think there are some nice tie-ins to the study of the Revolutionary War era and the events of the period. And I like the idea of using Washington’s spies as a hook to kids wanting to learn more about those events. I also think that high school teachers and kids could use the Culper Ring as a counter-balance to talking about more current events such as the NSA intelligence gathering, the fight against terrorism, and First Amendment rights.

This is the kind of content that seems perfect for creating un-Googleable questions and asking kids to evaluate and make sense of evidence: Read more

Classroom battlefields, recreating history, and emotional connections

It was a massacre. Bodies lying everywhere, draped over rocks and sprawled in the road. The cries and moans of the wounded loud in our ears. The smell of gun smoke wafting through the air. Other soldiers hiding in ditches and behind trees, yelling instructions at one another.

And then . . . the bell rang and we all went to lunch.

Welcome to my 3rd hour 8th grade American History class sometime in the early 1990s. Before standards or state assessments, and without a clear district curriculum, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted.

And one of the things I wanted was for my kids to understand a bit about how historical battles were fought and at least a little about battlefield conditions. So during our study of the American Revolution, we recreated the battle of Lexington and Concord.

Kids were assigned roles as British regulars or colonial militia. Tactics were discussed and practiced. We talked about historical context. And we carefully handed out the weapons – left over paper from the teachers’ lounge, wadded up into balls. Each soldier was allowed only so much, based on their role.

The colonial militia was allowed to turn over the desks to act as rocks and trees. British regulars, with red construction paper taped to the chests, had to march down the center of the classroom – surrounded on both sides by over-turned desks and angry Massachusetts farmers.

I would strike 10 or 15 old fashioned matches, blowing them out quickly so the room filled with smoke (pre-smoke alarm days) and the battle was on.

Read more

Mission US – educational AND engaging

For too long, most educational video games seemed to be of the Reader Rabbit variety – colorfully packaged animated worksheets. Writing and coding quality games with high production values and interesting stories was just too expensive.

And forget about good history games. While the Oregon Trail game was okay, history teachers have long been forced to find ways to integrate off-the-shelf games such as Medal of Honor or Civilization III.

But recent improvements in simulation creation software and internet technology has enabled developers to create some pretty sweet history tools. One I’m falling in love with is Mission US.

Created by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mission US

is a multimedia project featuring free interactive adventure games set in different eras of U.S. history. The first game, Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?,” puts the player in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As Nat navigates the city and completes tasks, he encounters a spectrum of people living and working there when tensions mount before the Boston Massacre.  Ultimately, the player determines Nat’s fate by deciding where his loyalties lie.

Designed specifically for the educational market and aligned to national standards, the game has extensive teacher materials and resources. Students playing the game will walk away with a solid knowledge of the pre-Revolution period. And for the most part, the tool does a good job of engaging kids in thinking and asking questions.

My pet peeve?

For the most part, much of the action doesn’t involve any of the game’s characters. In future missions, the designers need to provide more opportunities for the player to directly interact with other characters and events.

But even given that, Mission US is a great addition to the history simulation genre. And the best part? It’s free. So play in streaming format or download and play on your hard drive.

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