Friday, July 28, 2017

Now That's Funny: Political Cartoons in the Classroom

Political Cartoons can be a great way to generate discussions on controversial topics in a social studies classroom. As a primary source they can help students examine essential questions and big ideas of a particular era or event.

Make sure you check out my earlier blog posts on analyzing primary sources and historical images for resources and other ideas on this topic.  

Analyze A Cartoon Document Analysis Worksheet via National Archives

The National Archives has a lot of great Document Analysis Worksheets that you can use with students on a wide variety of different primary source documents. If you are looking for a basic template to use to help foster historical thinking skills this is a good tool to use.

Teacher's Guide Analyzing Political Cartoons via The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress also has great Teacher's Guides and Analysis Tools for teacher's to use on different types of primary documents. These are also great tools to use with students to help foster historical thinking skills.

Political Cartoons Searchable Database via The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a very in depth collection of various political cartoons. Check out their Primary Source Sets and their Exhibitions and Presentations as a good starting place to do your search. They also provide search terms and phrases to help you in your search through their databases.

Their Political Cartoons and Public Debate page also has some great early American history cartoons to check out. You can also download an eBook on your Apple iOS device or machine.

Running For Office: Candidates, Campaigns, & The Cartoons of Clifford Berryman via The National Archives

This is an 52 page interactive website that explores the cartoons of Clifford Berryman. Many of these political cartoons ran during the early 20th Century and each page has captions and historical context for the reader. If you teach early 20th Century US History this is a fun site to use or have students navigate. If you find some you like you can also download high quality images or desktop background images to your computer.  

Welcome to the Opper Project: Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach History via Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

This website has lots of lesson plansanalysis worksheets, and digital exhibits. A good place to start is with their Lesson Plans page. 

American Caricature (1765-1865) via the University of Indiana Lilly Library 

This collection covers three distinctive eras in US History. Colony & Early Republic,  The War of 1812, and Abraham Lincoln (Which covers his two elections and The Civil War)

This site can be a little hard to navigate so make sure you click on the links and you should be able to find examples for each of these three topics.


Has a good collection of images from Harper's Ferry Magazine. Search their Cartoon of the Day series by Topic , People, or Places. They also have a series of lessons and collections on their main page that you can check out. These topics range from Pre-Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction, Rise of Big Business, The Chinese Exclusion Act, and several others.

Civilization & Barbarism: Cartoon Commentary & "The White Man's Burden" (1898-1902) by Ellen Sebring via MIT Visualizing Cultures

I really like using this resource with my students during my Global Expansionism Unit. There are several examples with great insight provided on the historical context with each of these images. I typically show students the images and we look for examples of how it portrays one of these themes: Expansion of US Markets, Show of US Military Strength, or Efforts of "Civilization."

The Political Dr Seuss via Independent Lens, PBS

I really enjoy this website and using these political cartoons with my students when we examine America during the early years of World War II before Pearl Harbor. Most of my students are very familiar with Dr. Seuss but not his political opinions which were pretty racist. Business Insider has a great article on this titled Dr Seuss's Racist Ads and Open Culture has a great post titled Dr Seuss draws Anti-Japanese Durring WWII, Then Atones with Horton Hears a Who! that is worthy of bringing into your discussion with students when they look at his political cartoons.

What did I miss? 

Do you have great resources that you use with your students when working with political cartoons? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MA 54th Regiment & The Assault on Fort Wagner

Photo by Lance Mosier on Morris Island
looking South from Cummings Point
Today the Massachusetts Historical Society is opening up their exhibit of the newly discovered sword of Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. I remember him best as the character portrayed by Matthew Broderick in the movie Glory that details the story of the MA 54th Regiment. The movie Glory  is probably where I learned the most about the involvement of African-Americans in  the US Civil War in High School.

The sword's discovery is pretty amazing find and the Sword's history can be found on the Massachusetts Historical Society blog The Beehive: A Treasure Rediscovered: The Civil War Sword of Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Regiment

The battle the MA 54th is probably most famous for is their assault on Fort Wagner in the harbor of Charleston, SC which took place July 18th, 1863. I was vacation in Charleston, SC back in 2012 and the closest I got was from Cummings Point where my family was searching for Shells as part of a charter experience. I wish I could have explored further down the beach but was limited with time and having two of my children excited about what they could find washed ashore.

I wanted to share some resources on the MA 54th and African-American Soldier experiences in the US Civil War I've collected the past few years to help tell their stories to my students I teach in my 8th Grade US History classroom. If you have other resources I would love to hear about them.

Video Lecture via CSPAN: U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War by History Professor Roger Davidson (April 2012) is a good overview of the history of the U.S. Colored Troops. I don't typically share this lecture with my students, but I do use this to help strengthen my own understanding of the topic.

The Civil War in 4 Minutes has two great short videos that I like to share with students to help them get a short overview of Black Soldiers in the US Civil War.

Black Soldiers

The 54th Massachusetts

The Battle of Fort Wagner via Civil War Trust has lots of information, maps, and pictures on the battle.

As I learned this summer while visiting The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington D.C., Fredrick Douglass two sons served in the MA 54th. The National Archives has a scanned image of their Company Descriptive Book that I hope to share with students this coming school year. The National Archives has a nice Educator Resources page on Black Soldiers in the Civil War I hope to incorporate with my students during the next school year.

The Library of Congress has a great collection of Photographs of African Americans During The Civil War that you can use as resources for students to analyze. Check out one of my earlier blogs on Getting Started With Primary Sources for ideas on using these images with students.

The NPS Solider and Sailor Database is a great resource that I have mentioned in an earlier blog post Making The Most of Memorial Day. Here is a list of soldiers who fought in the MA 54th: Search for Soldiers MA 54th to give students a starting point to research a particular soldier.

Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial in Boston is a place I hope to visit someday. The NPS Park Website has some good general information on the memorial and the regiment.

History Channel Links On The Topic:

Do you have some great resources on The Massachusetts 54th Regiment or on African-American Soldiers in the US Civil War? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Emoji Summary Exercise: A Civil War Soldier

I wanted to share a fun way I learned about last fall about helping students with summaries. I can not take credit for this lesson. I saw this posted on Twitter and used these ideas to shape this lesson on a Soldier's Life during the US Civil War.

Most of these ideas come from the following resources. I would ask that you take a look at their posts on this idea's development.

Using Emojis to develop vocabulary and source analysis skills via @russeltarr

Emojis In the Classroom via @Erintegration

What Are 10 Key Issues In MegaCities Like New Delhi? Emoji Time via @MattPodbury

My Lesson:

For this lesson I wanted students to do some research on what life was like for your typical Civil War Soldier.

I had students read a section out of our US History Textbook that summarized some of the basic experiences of a Civil War Soldier's experience.

I had students examine the following infographic to that compare and contrast's soldiers from the Civil War to today's modern soldier.  The American Civil War

I required students to watch the following Civil War in 4 Minute Videos via Civil War Trust.

The Civil War in Four Minutes: Soldier Life

Students were given these videos and told to pick at least two (they can watch more if they wanted). I wanted to give students an opportunity of some choice on areas that might interest them. There are lots of these Four Minutes Episodes and I use several others throughout my Civil War Unit. I like their short nature, stories, artifacts, and how full of information they are.

The Armies

 The Flags

Infantry Tactics

Military Engagements


 Small Arms

I gave students an emoji handout that I modified from What Are 10 Key Issues In MegaCities Like New Delhi? Emoji Time via @MattPodbury and had them pick 4 emoji's and write short captions on why they felt those icons best represented a Civil War Soldier.

Overall I really enjoyed this as a way for students to summarize some key elements of life of a soldier during the US Civil War. I hope to use this as a summarization technique in some of my other lessons throughout the new school year. I also shared this idea with my Language Arts teacher on my team and she used this as a similar summarization tool they were using with one of their short stories they were reading. She really enjoyed reading her student's summarizes and thought they came up with some good connections.

Do you have great ways to help students summarize text or reflect on their learning? I would love to hear about it the comments section below.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Podcasts: PD On The Go

I wanted to share some of the podcasts that I listen to throughout the year and some of the new ones I've picked up this summer. With things slowing down during the summer I try and get caught up with podcasts episodes. I love podcasts because  I can download them and take them on my walks or for long car/plane rides. Below is a list of some of my favorite podcasts and some new ones I'm trying out.

(1) Ben Franklin's World

Hosted by Liz Covart and now produced the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture this podcast explores a wide variety of topics in Early American History. This weekly podcast highlights interviews with historians on important people and events in early US History. Liz Covart is very active on Twitter (@lizcovart) and has an active Facebook community and web presence. This has grown into one of my favorite podcasts and a must listen for historians, history teachers, or lovers of history. History Teacher's should check out OI's Doing History Series that corresponds to several BF World Podcasts.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Episode 141: A Declaration In Draft

(2) BackStory

BackStory is a weekly podcast hosted by U.S. Historians and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. This podcast takes a topic each week and digs deep into the history behind the headlines. Each episode is so well done and the historians provide great context for each topic that is covered. Check out their extensive back catalog of episodes and search by topic to find something you might be interested in.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Crowning Glory: A History of Hair in America

(3) My History Can Beat Up Your Politics w/Bruce Carlson

This podcast hosted by Bruce Carlson takes issues in the news today and provides some historical context behind the news. I have always appreciated the extensive research and time taken to explain some of the history behind these topics.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: There's Nothing To Fear Of The 25th Amendment

(4) LORE

I love folklore and spooky stories. LORE is one of those podcasts with a focus on the supernatural that are typically 30 minutes with some amazing twists and turns to keep you interested. I love listening to these stories because the host Aaron Mahnke is a fantastic storyteller. I hope to be able to use elements of his storytelling techniques to help stories I share with my students come alive for them. If you are interested in the scary story with a historical twist this is a podcast to add to your list. 

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Episode 63: Homecoming 

(5) We The People via the National Constitution Center

Hosted by Jeffery Rosen, this podcast produced by the National Constitution Center brings in legal scholars to discuss important constitutional questions of the day. There are so many great episodes, but I've really enjoyed the episode Jeffery Rosen Answers Your Questions About Constitutional Interpretation. As a non-lawyer I found this episode extremely helpful on different legal interpretations judges use.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: What Just Happened At The Supreme Court? 

(6) Rogue Historian

Hosted by Keith Harris, Keith brings some interesting insight and a "no-holds-bar" candid discussion with his guests on a wide variety of topics. I had a chance to be interviewed by Keith to discuss my The Lincoln Assassination CSI Activity on Episode #13 Teaching With Creativity with Lance Mosier

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Episode #19 Cocktails (and other stuff) with Maggie Yancey 

(7) Whisky Rebellion 

Hosted by Frank Cogliano and David Silkenat these two US Historians provide a unique historical perspective to the news as they bring their show from The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. 

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Healthcare History Edition 
Professional Development for Social Studies Teachers by Social Studies Teachers. These have been some great Podcasts to listen to this summer to help me think about some of my own teaching practices. This is a relatively new Podcast and hope that these teachers keep the episodes coming.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Group Projects Where Content Meets Skill 
This local Podcast hosted by historian Adam Fletcher Sasse on North Omaha History has been great listening in order to learn about some of the local history. I've been reading his articles  the past few years and enjoy hearing about some of the local history stories I can share with my students to help them connect their home town to the historical eras we are talking about such as Omaha's history in Fur Trading. This would go great my unit on Westward Expansion and The Mountain Men.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Fontenelle Park

I loved Reading Rainbow as a 80's kid and was happy to hear that LeVar Burton is back reading short stories on his new podcast.  I've enjoyed his ability to make a story come to life and I hope I can become a better story teller by hearing these tales.

My Favorite Episode So Far This Summer: Empty Places (Part 1) &; Empty Places (Part 2)

Other Podcasts To Check Out:

Here are some other podcasts I have also enjoyed listening to episodes or wanting to add to my list.
Do you have go to podcasts that you listen to? What are some of your favorite podcast episodes? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.