Over the past few days I attended the American Historical Association annual meeting. http://www.historians.org/annual/program.cfm With well over 5000 in attendance it was a real collection of history geeks and it was remarkable to be at a conference with so much connection between university and high school teachers. The downside was that it was disheartening to see so many historians read boring presentations word for word, with no real understanding of basic principles of teaching and learning.
The importance of teaching for historical thinking was a common theme. Laurel Ulrich and Shari Tishman from Harvard presented an interesting workshop on using objects to generate interest. They used a thinking routine to focus on the corn chip and its connection to US history. There was also an interesting presentation on the use of Facebook as a class management tool at college level. A final panel presentation on ‘The Global War of Terror’ was fascinating. Much was made of US strategic and political blunders in the war on terror, US consumer culture, and a failure to consider what ‘freedom’ actually means.
A number of useful websites were mentioned during the conference:
World History For Us All: http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/
Modern History Sourcebook: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook.html
History Matters: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/
Teachers’ Domain: http://www.teachersdomain.org/
Teaching History: http://teachinghistory.org/
Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning American history: http://chnm.gmu.edu/
Open Vault: http://openvault.wgbh.org/
The conference also presented several worthwhile and powerful historical films:
The Most Dangerous Man in the World: http://www.mostdangerousman.org/
Freedom Riders: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/freedomriders/about
The Conspirator: http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/films/detail/the-conspirator/