Sharing Among Members of a Community of Learners

For the past three years, we have developed a community of learners among the RRR participants.  We have accomplished that in many ways; we assign grade-similar participants to work together during the workshops;  some times, we assign vertical teams consisting of elementary, middle school, and high school teachers to work together.  Other times we allow participants to self-select groups.  Getting to know each other, building trust, and sharing professional insights and expertise are the main obAndreas_canal_boatobjectives for such collaboration.

It is always gratifying when participants transfer the sharing from the workshops to real life.  Just this week, I received two such sharings from Andreas Johansson and from Amy Fagnilli.

Andreas is a sixth-grade teacher in the Fairless Local Schools.  He found this news article.  He scanned it and sent it to me to distribute to our participants.  In his e-mail post, Andreas mentioned how much fun it might be for us to visit Canal Fulton and ride on the St. Helena III.  Because Andreas joined us after the first year of the program, he did not know that we had already done exactly what he proposed.  The day we traveled to Canal Fulton to ride on the canal boat, however, was the day in the summer of 2006, the day of the huge storm that took down trees and flooded roads.  We had to break the 4 miles/hour speed limit to deliver our participants safely at the restaurant where we ate steak as we waited for the storm to end.  It was a day none of us will ever forget.

Amy Fagnilli, teacher at Revere High School sent this post to me:

Hi Jann.  I stumbled across this website on transportation – the way you search is really cool.  Can you pass this on to the group?  – Amy
http://americanhistory.si.edu/ONTHEMOVE/collection/

Amy was right.  The site IS really cool.  It is an on-line museum of transportation containing more than 1000 artifacts and photographs.  The site allows the researcher to select an ERA (I selected  1870-1900, Development of the Industrial United States).  For the REGION, I selected East North Central (because that’s where Ohio is).  I chose ROAD for the transportation type, and I chose AUTOMOBILE for the vehicle type.  After making my selections, I pushed the browse button, and I received 16 wonderful photographs.  Included was the Unzicker tricycle model and a photograph of Charles Duryea, the winner of the first auto race in the USA.  What a great resource for teachers and students alike.


Suburban Tours Workshop

The Suburban workshops will be held on Thursday May 15 and Friday May 16, at the CSU East Center (on Thursday) and at the CSU West Center (on Friday).

Thursday
Workshop begins at 8:30, with bagels and such.
Tour begins after lunch; we will not return to CSU East until 3PM-3:20PM.
The bus tour is part of the workshop, and the tour will include narration/discussion on the bus. If you need to leave early for sports (say at 2:30), leave after lunch (we will only pay half-day substitutes) or do not attend as the tour is integral to the experience.

Workshop is at the East Center; click the links for directions.
http://www.csuohio.edu/eastcenter/location.html

Friday
Workshop begins at 8:30, with bagels and such.
Tour begins after lunch; we will not return to CSU West until 3PM-3:20PM.
The bus tour is part of the workshop, and the tour will include
narration/discussion on the bus. If you need to leave early for sports
(say at 2:30), leave after lunch (we will only pay half-day
substitutes) or do not attend as the tour is integral to the experience.

Workshop is at the West Center; click the links for directions.
http://www.csuohio.edu/westcenter/location.html

Informal Conversation and Evaluation

Addie Rae Toby, middle school teacher at Shaker-Heights, called to chat about her RRR mini-grant the other night.  We talked for a very long time.  Addie said some important things to me in that conversation.  She talked about how much she’d learned during her three-year involvement with RR& R and about how much her teaching had improved with the resources and from interaction with historians and speakers that the grant provided.

“You know,” she said, “you ask us to evaluate every workshop.  Those evaluations reveal how we received the workshops.  What cannot be evaluated, however, is the outreach that we’ve done with students other than our own, with other teachers in our building who are not involved with the grant, and with parents.  I have developed deep friendships and improved relationships with teachers in my building because of my work on this grant. 

“I’ve been a part of other TAH grants.  Only this grant has taken me on a journey to develop professional connections…a learning community.”

Of course, I loved what she said, because her opinion  about developing a learning community echoed my own passion.  In the RRR grant, teachers of all grade levels, represent different districts located along the canalway.  They have learned to take risks to create lessons and to share better strategies for teaching history.

Addie’s conversation jogged my memory of another conversation I had with Amy Sumen after the workshop with Dr. Liette Gidlow.

Amy said, “You know, I really talked today, and Nate said to me, ‘Amy, it was so good to hear your voice at this workshop!  And you know what else was really good? You didn’t preface every remark with a disclaimer about only being a first-grade teacher.’”

I smiled at Amy, delighted in two different ways.  First, I was delighted in Amy’s growth.  Over the three years, Amy had altered her own image of herself from first-grade teacher to scholar equal to the high school teachers in our group who teach A.P. history.  I was delighted, secondly, that Amy’s peer, Nate, had recognized the change in her and had felt safe and comfortable enough to remark on her growth.

For me, affecting change in the way teachers teach history is the most important part of our work.  The goals of this grant are to bring history experts to the teachers and to emphasize place-based history and to focus on historical thinking.

Building an environment of collegial support for those things to happen, however, is the foundation that leads to necessary change in teaching.  In a profession that is often solitary and lonely, learning to learn together is often as important as learning time lines and factual information.

John Henry AGAIN

When I first read STEEL DRIVIN’ MAN, over eighteen months ago, I could not stop thinking about the book.  I talked to everyone about John Henry and what happened to him (according to Scott Reynolds Nelson).  Even though I found myself engrossed in the study of the Amish; then the Underground Railroad: the Cultural Gardens of Cleveland, and the Henry Ford Museum, nothing captivated me like the story of John Henry.

John Henry is back in my mind.  Reading Dr. Tebeau’s post and exploring the website he’d mentioned coupled with presenting with Rich Horton two weeks ago have kept my mind spinning about John Henry.  I found Rich’s song about himself as I was cleaning out the bag I carried to the National Association of Interpreters;

"When Rich Horton was a little baby,

Sitting on his daddy’s knee,

He picked up a snake and a lot of pretty leaves,

Cried, I’m gonna’ share your nature’s views. Lord, Lord. 

Sharing nature’s what I’ll do

Then, I took time to look for the Drive-by Truckers’ version of John Henry, as Dan Best suggested.  Here’s what I found:

I watched the rain; it settled in. We disappeared for days again.
Most of us were staying in, lazy like the sky.
The letters flew across the wire filtered through a million liars.
The whole world smelled like burning tires the day John Henry died.

We knew about that big machine that ran on human hope and steam.
Bets on John were far between and mostly on the side.
We heard he put up quite a fight. His hands and feet turned snowy white.
That hammer rang out through the night the day John Henry died.

When John Henry was a little bitty baby nobody ever taught him how to read
but he knew the perfect way to hold a hammer was the way the railroad baron held the deed.

It didn’t matter if he won, if he lived, or if he’d run.
They changed the way his job was done. Labor costs were high.
That new machine was cheap as hell and only John would work as well,
so they left him laying where he fell the day John Henry died.

John Henry was a steel-driving man but John Henry was a man just the same.
An engine never thinks about his daddy and an engine never needs to write its name.

So pack your bags, we’re headed west and L.A. ain’t no place to rest.
You’ll need some sleep to pass the test, so get some on the flight
and say your prayers John Henry Ford ’cause we don’t need your work no more.
You should have known the final score the day John Henry died.

I keep thinking about all that I’ve learned during the work on this grant, and how the learning just keeps on going.  I believe that what happens to me also happens to each of the 43 participants of the Rivers, Roads & Rails grant.

National Association of Interpreters

Rich_2 Rich Horton, fellow team member on the RR&R grant, works on his computer checking our PowerPoint presentations for the National Association of Interpreters.  Rich had asked me to help him present our work with the participants on the Rivers, Road and Rails grant before submitting the application.  We were both elated when we received the acceptance letter.  Both Rich and I enjoy sharing stories about the experience.

Description:  From canal fever to John Henry, steel drivin’ man to ribbons of road travel, the “Rivers, roads and Rails Project” provides American history teachers with content training, historical thinking skills and best pedagogical practices to make history come alive for students and improve their academic achievement.  This three year, U.S. Department of Education funded project, is being carried out by a partnership between Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association.  An image filled overview will provide a backdrop for participants to dive into sample activities that reflect the place based education philosophy of the project. 

Summary:    Images and activities invite participation in building understanding of history as discovered along the Ohio and Erie Canalway reflective of the work of this U.S. Department of Education funded project for teachers.

Objectives:

1.       Given a PowerPoint presentation, participants will observe and hear an overview of the Rivers, Roads & Rails Project.

2.       Using images and presentation of the railroad era of John Henry, participants will create an impression of who John Henry was and learn of how teachers have used these images in their classrooms.

3.       Given the music and lyrics of the canal era of Ohio, participants will create an art piece, or diary entry, or news article that reflects life along the canal.

4.       Given a variety of historical images from around the Ohio and Erie Canalway, participants will choose an image and write a paragraph that shares a story that they think the image is showing.

Our presentation was scheduled for 9:00 on April 10.  We met before 8:00 to check out the room and verify our equipment.  We had time for a quick breakfast with the participants held in November Lodge at the CVEEC.  There, we saw fellow team member, Jennie Vassarhelyi.  Jennie told us how happy she was that we were presenting.  Then, she cautioned us that many people who attend the conference are naturalists, and they might choose to be outside.  "Don’t feel bad if the room isn’t filled," she said.

We told Jennie that we were prepared to give 100% even if we had only one person choose our session.  As it turned out, we had twelve attendees the first hour and eighteen the second hour.

Rich began the session with an overview of the three-year grant authored by Mark Tebeau, Ph.D., primary investigator, in collaboration with CVNPAand CVEEC.  Rich did a great job representing the grant.  He listed the goals of the grant on his first slide:

To improve student achievement by improving expertise and instructional skills of American history teachers through

       – content training

               – historical thinking skills

                       – best pedagogical practices

In the historical relationship between people and place!

Then, Rich gave the themes and time frame for each year of the grant; year one, 1770-1850 Rivers, 1850-1930-Rails, and 1930-present Roads.

I had the second part of the program.  I talked about our work with the steel driving man, John Henry.  It was so much fun for me to guide the attendees through the same work of our participants.  To begin, they filled out the sheet about John Henry.  Many of the people in the room  knew about John Henry; only one person had never heard of him.  I shared responses from our participants, and we laughed at how we come to know a subject.  Then I shared the pictures that Ardath Nigro’s fourth-grade students drew of John Henry at the beginning of their study.  The participants really enjoyed those drawings.  We listened to the Smothers Brothers sing “John Henry,” and then, we listened to Bruce Springstein sing.  Finally, we listened to an old-time version.

I explained about the gandy dancers, and the way they would have sung the song, as reported by Scott Nelson Reynolds in his book STEEL DRIVIN’MAN.  As a culminating activity, we all wrote songs about ourselves to the tune of “John Henry.”

One of the participants in our session sang, “When Karen was a little baby, Sitting on her Mama’s knee, She picked up a bonnet and a big hoop skirt, said, ‘I’m gonna be someone else, Lord, Lord.  I’m gonna be someone else.’”  Karen works as a historical interpreter for Hale Farm and Village.

Another participant, Dan Best, retold the story of trying to shoot blackbirds with a rubber bow and arrow when he was a child.  His daddy gave him a real talking to about that, and respecting nature and its creatures had its genesis at that point.

The final part of my presentation was providing the truth about John Henry, according to Scott Reynolds Nelson.  Of course, I had to give the caveat that our history expert, Dr. Peter Rutkoff, Kenyon College professor, “Don’t hesitate to question Nelson’s findings.” 

Rich distributed lyrics from the canal era.  Working in groups, participants read the lyrics, and then they created stories, letters, journal entries, or advertisements based on the lyrics.  My song was "Our Fairyland" by Captain Pearl Nye.  The song was three pages longs with 21 verses.  Each verse told about a canal town along the way from Akron to Portsmouth.  In addition, Captain Nye had included bird song and sights from nature.  He mentioned "the largest vine in the world" and a tree so big it would "jar your heart."  He described bird song and frog chorus.  One naturalist from Summit County loved that song.  She said, "Where else will I find the canal towns as well as bird songs?  It is perfect for what I’m doing."

The culminating activity was a writing assignment based on photographs.  The time flew by, and I could hardly believe the two hours were over.  Our attendees didn’t want to leave.  They hung by talking about how they planned to use what they’d learned in our session.  Howey told me to go to the Smithsonian website for more versions of the John Henry song.  Dan Best slipped me a piece o paper that said, "Check out modern re-write "The Day John Henry Died" by the Drive-by Truckers.  One woman gave me a big hug.

Rich and I left happy.  We enjoyed sharing the grant and the accomplishments of our teachers.  It was great, also, to see other people respond to the activities we’d created for the RR&R grant.

Going home, I reflected on how much I had learned in my work with the RR&R grant both professionally and personally.

Ain’t Nothing but a Man – Scott Reynolds Nelson – Children’s Book Review – New York Times

For the review see: Ain’t Nothing but a Man – Scott Reynolds Nelson – Children’s Book Review – New York Times.
And, don’t forget the related photo essay: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/04/13/books/review/downes-slideshow_index.html

Mike King found this link for us from the New York Times.  Now I know that you are wondering if it was that Mike King–our Mike King–who was reading that famed grand dame of the so-called liberal media? Surely, surely, I say. Thanks Mike!

The article begins…

"It seems odd to worry that a review will give away the ending of a
history book, but Scott Reynolds Nelson’s account of his search for the
real John Henry, the steel-drivin’ man of so much song and story, poses
just that problem.

“Ain’t Nothing but a Man” is
the tale of a detective chasing the ultimate cold case — a missing
person who may or may not be fictional — and it’s so engaging, so full
of the thrill of the hunt, that it feels mean to dampen the book’s
pleasures even a little by telling you right away what, or rather who,
Nelson found.

So I won’t tell, exactly, but I can give you a taste of what’s inside.
This book is a children’s version of “Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry:
The Untold Story of an American Legend,” Nelson’s prizewinning 2006
book for grown-ups. The story begins at a dead end, in October 1998,
when Nelson, a history professor at the College of William and Mary,
was contemplating a huge pile of research about 19th-century railroad
workers and listening to so many versions of “John Henry” that his
family was getting annoyed. “It was as if John Henry were driving steel
in our own home,” he writes. But none of his puzzle pieces fit. He
stared at his computer screen, not knowing where to go next. …"

A link to the original book review can be found at the following: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/books/18grim.html?ref=review

Consumerism in America

                                            Consumerism in America Liette_gidlow

Twenty-six members of our Rivers, Roads & Rails group met at Ideastream in Cleveland, Ohio, to participate in the "Consumerism in America" workshop led by Dr. Liette Gidlow.

Dr. Gidlow explained that the late 19th century was a "producer society."  People defined themselves by their work.  We entered the "consumer society."  People defined themselves by what they bought. People began to use consumer goods to identify themselves to a group.  Consumer goods began to give meaning to individuals and their roles in society.

Institutions of the consumer society include: department stores and chain stores, commercialized entertainment and leisure.  Society begins to change from an auditory culture to a visual culture.

Group_discussions_41_2 Participants separated into predetermined groups to review various chapters in the book, AS SEEN ON T.V.  Each group presented to the group at large. 

Next, Dr. Gidlow distributed copies of advertisements from leisure magazines.  She asked the participants to compare the advertisements, and a lively discussions ensued.

Participants watched a video titled "War Comes to America."  Dr. Gidlow charged the participants to look for the answers to the following questions: 1.  How are Americans portrayed?  2.  What kind of people are they?  3.  How is the enemy portrayed?  4.  How is history used to make the case for war? 5.  Why should Americans fight?

On the second day of the workshop, Dr. Gidlow led a discussion on politics.  Specifically, the group examined voting practices as pictured in 1872 painting.  They compared that image with the cover of Colliers Magazine fifty years later.  Then, the group explored political advertisements as they appeared on T.V. throughout history with special emphasis on women’s roles in those advertisements.  In 1952, 33% of all Americans had T.V.  In 1956, 75% of all Americans had a T.V.  Television advertisement became increasingly important. Our_group_41

As a culminating activity, participants created lesson plans rooted in the work done during the two days.  The shared their lesson plans with the group.  Lisa Hixson and Mickey Krivak designed a lesson plan that challenged fourth grade students to compare advertisements of Ivory soap.  Al Huge, Claudio Costanzo, and Andrew Glazier collaborated on a lesson plan for high school students that required evaluating the three presidential candidates.  Elementary art teacher, Joe Culley, designed a lesson plan that would increase awareness of advertisements.  Whose point of view?  What kinds of edits?  What was the camera position and  how did the position influence the thoughts of the viewer?   

These few descriptions of lesson plans designed by the teachers are a testament to all they learned and were able to apply to their classroom teaching.  Complete lesson plans from all groups will be available on the website.

Dr. Mark Tebeau, primary investigator for the grant, distributed the book, BOWLING ALLEYS, DINERS, AND TRAILER PARKS, for the workshop slated for May 15 & 16.  Dr. Tebeau announced that the group would meet at the east campus of CSU on May 15 and at the west campus of CSU on May 16. 

April 1-2 Workshop

Dear friends:
The April 1-2 workshop will be held at ideastream, just down the street
from CSU. My apologies for late notice, completely my fault as I
juggled a bunch of different rooms to find the correct one for Dr.
Liette Gidlow who is leading the workshop. (We are, as you might know,
doing lots of construction on our campus at CSU.)

Overview:  Some historians have described the 19th century as a time
when Americans lived in a "producer" society, one in which identity and
life was tied to work and occupation; the twentieth century, they
argue, became a consumer society, one in which identity was bought and
sold in changing marketplaces. For this session, Dr. Liette Gidlow will
explore with us the development of a consumer society in modern
America. We will examine the buying and selling of goods, wars, and
politics. We will also consider how gender mattered in the development
of modern consumer society. The workshop will include some lecture and
discussion, lots of multi-media materials, including especially images
and sounds. We will learn not just about the development of consumer
society, but will be introduced to materials and methods for analyzing
such materials in classrooms, building on our collective repertoire of
knowledge. Finally, there will be time set aside for lesson planning,
in the multi-media computer lab of ideastream.

Start/Finish:   We will serve food, beginning at 8:30. At 9:00, we
start promptly; we anticipate finishing by 3:00pm each day.

Parking:    http://www.wviz.org/edsvcs/about/Directions.asp; we will
validate your parking receipt/give you validation.


Reading:
We
will
ask you to read one chapter of the book in preparation for the
workshop, about 20 pages.  We will read it in the context of a "jigsaw"
discussion.  The division of the readings is in the attached file
("April1-2readinggroups.doc).


Links: 
LINKS to the readings are at: http://academic.csuohio.edu/tah/rrr/workshops/april2008.htm


You will be given a copy of the book, Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV: The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994). These are: Chapter 1 on consumption
and
environmentalism from Samuel P. Hays, Beauty,
Health, and Permanence: Environmental Politics
in the United States, 1955-1985

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 13-39; Chapter
6 by Michael L. Smith,
"Selling the Moon: the U.S.Manned Space
Program and the Triumph of Commodity Scientism," from Richard Wightman Fox
and T.J. Jackson Lears, eds., The Culture
of Consumption:Critical Essays in American
History, 1880-1980

(NY: Pantheon Books, 1983), 175-209.

LINKS to the above files are at: http://academic.csuohio.edu/tah/rrr/workshops/april2008.htm

*********************************************
Schedule
Tuesday, April 1
** Morning
Session A (90 min)
The Development of a Consumer Society,
1870s-Present

Session B (90 min)
Film/discussion: Selling
WW2
Show Capra,
"War Comes to America"

** Lunch

** Afternoon
Small group discussion/large group sharing
of readings; Gidlow will provide focusing
questions. (See groups above)

Wednesday, April 2
** Morning
Session A
Connecting Consumer Culture to Politics in an Election Year
The Commodification of Politics, 1920s style

Session B (90 min)
Women and political advertising

** Lunch

** Afternoon
Lesson Planning

*********************************************

Assignments for reading groups.

  • Group 1: Marling,
    chapter 3 on Disneyland
  • Group
    2: Marling, chapter 4 on cars
  • Group
    3: Marling, chapter 5 on Elvis
  • Group
    4: Marling, chapter 7 on the 1959
    "Kitchen Debate"
  • Group
    5: Chapter 1 on consumption and
    environmentalism from Samuel P. Hays, Beauty,
    Health, and Permanence: Environmental Politics
    in the United States, 1955-1985

    (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 13-39.
  • Group
    6: Chapter 6 by Michael L. Smith,
    "Selling the Moon: the U.S. Manned Space Program," from Richard Wightman Fox
    and T.J. Jackson Lears, eds., The Culture
    of Consumption:Critical Essays in American
    History, 1880-1980

    (NY: Pantheon Books, 1983), 175-209.

LINKS to the above files are at: http://academic.csuohio.edu/tah/rrr/workshops/april2008.htm

Welcome, Lauren Wentz, Ph.D.

Welcome, Lauren Wentz, Ph.D.

Our planning team meets regularly to plan workshops and prepare for the summer institute.  I don’t usually blog those meetings.  March 17, 2008, will be an exception to my self-imposed rules of blogging.  Unfortunately, our leader Mark Tebeau, Ph.D. was very ill and had to miss the meeting.

On March 17, we welcomed Lauren Wentz, Ph.D. as Chief Education Officer of the Environmental Education Center.  She replaces Dave Irvine, who left CVEEC for a new position.

At the beginning of the meeting, we introduced ourselves, and I was struck by our easy definitions of who we are and what we do for the RRR project.  Over the three years we’ve been together we have come to an understanding of our roles and our commitment to each other.

Lauren Wentz stated that she was pleased with what she has learned so far about the CVEEC.  She said she was impressed with her colleagues and an organization that "just about runs itself."

Jennie Vasarhelyi gave a brief history of the grant.  She explained that she, Dave Irvine, and Mark Tebeau authored the grant.  She said that she saw her primary role as providing content.  The RRR is the major professional development for the CVNPA.  Jennie also mentioned that Steve Roberts was working with Dr. Tebeau on the oral history grant this year.

Jessica Opper listed her major responsibility as taking care of the pre-test/post-test evaluations.  Jess also described herself as a "detail person."  She explained that she orders food and makes room arrangements for the various workshops.

Rich Horton introduced himself as the "director of pedagogy."  He said that he saw his role as modeling best practice and helping teachers translate that model into the classroom.  Rich moves the project forward by teaming with everyone.

Janice Gallagher  described herself as the project manager.  She said that she "neither dictates nor delegates to members of the team."  She described the team as equals doing whatever it takes to assure success or the project.  Her major role is to interface with the teachers.

I remembered our first meeting together and I reflected on how unsure we were about the project and what each of us had to offer.  In three years we sat in the same room and presented a confident portrait of positive energy.  We like each other.  We like working together.  We like this project!

It was music to our ears when Lauren said, "We have to start thinking about what we will do for professional development when this grant experience is complete." 

And so the seed of a dream to continue working together was planted.  We welcomed the new director, and we got back to the work of planning the Summer Institute 2008.

RRR Mini-grants

RRR Mini-grants

Part of the Rivers, Roads & Rails TAH grant includes an opportunity for teachers to author mini-grant applications for $500.  The mini-grants provide teachers with funding to transfer what they have learned in the workshops to their classrooms.  Some teachers use the mini-grant funds for field trips.  Others use the funding for speakers; still others use the funding for resources. 

Planning team members developed the grant application form during the early days of our work together.  The form asks teachers to describe the grant experience, to explain how the grant is innovative, and describe ways they will report their activities to the district and to the community.  The application also asks teachers for a budget and a time best suit for visiting the classroom.

So far this year we have funded 15 mini grants.  I wish that I could report that I visited classroom to witness first-hand the work accomplished by the students and the teacher.  As it is, I have been able to visit one grant experience this year.

Jed McKnight and Melanie Stuthard teach at Revere Middle School.  Melanie’s grant application provided a historical interpreter to all eighth-grade classrooms.  Foster Brown appeared as "Digger Gallagher" in complete costume of the canal worker."  Set up in the library of the school, he brought many artifacts from the days of the Ohio & Erie Canal, including a model canal boat, pick, bushel, lantern, shovel and costumes.

In a thick Irish brogue, Foster Brown presented canal history through stories and song.  Students actively participated in the presentation repeating words and phrases and singing the choruses to songs.  Sometimes Brown asked only the boys to sing the chorus; then the girls; then the teachers.  The culminating activity included students standing in front of the peers, dressed in minimal costumes, to play the role of various people on the canal boat.   

It was a great experience for me to see students shed their protective shells and engage in singing and role play.  Melanie explained how much the students remember about the canal history from singing the songs.  She said, "Three years ago when we started this grant, I knew very little about the Ohio & Erie Canal.  Now, look, every eighth-grade student in Revere hears about starving in the land of plenty and the need for the canal.  The RRR grant has been great for my professional development and for my students’ learning."

The visit to Revere also gave me the chance to talk with the principal, Frank Surace.   Mr. Surace attended the the February Global Democracy conference with his teachers.  He couldn’t stop talking about Mark Tebeau’s other TAH grant, "Sounds in American History."  He said, "I can not stop thinking about what those teachers did…combining the voice of Kennedy with those images.  I have told everyone about it.  I am so glad that I was there!"Foster_with_banjo_2

Foster Brown as Digger Gallagher at Revere Middle School

Revere_students_2

Eighth-grade students listening to stories and songs about the Ohio & Erie Canal.