Saturday, January 11, 2003

Just returned from buying my first pair of Carhart insulated bib overalls. I need to haul some rock on the farm and now that we're back to a normal January with highs in the 30s, they will be well worth the investment. Two years ago I learned all about the difference between Red Wing boots - non-insulated and insulated. My feet were freezing! I love my Carhart jacket - nothing is warmer. I'm a wimp now about the cold weather after having lived in Florida and Texas - my blood must have thinned out. I much prefer the four seasons, though.

Just went to lunch with Karen, my neighbor and friend who teaches fourth grade - we have fun sharing "teacher stories."

More on the AHA in Chicago- I ran into my major professor and I haven't seen him in a couple of years so we had a great time catching up and doing some actual work since he is one of the leaders in H-Net. I brought up blogs at our meeting but the people running the servers made a good point - most of our audience is still interested in "push" technology - in other words, they want the email to come to their box. My H-Teach colleague and I, however, are going to explore it more for our list and see if we can make it work - it would make discussions less linear.

Ate some great food - including the classic Berghoff and a neighborhood Italian place my uncle took me to. He had fun showing me the funeral home that took care of Al Capone.

Lots of interesting and worthwhile sessions - especially about the Teaching American History grants and assessment. The Teaching American History grant I'm involved in:

has provided outreach opportunities to the local schools beyond my wildest imagination. I love working with real teachers and that in turn will help me do a better job working with our university's pre-service teachers.

One of the teachers picked a wide variety of students, not just the "A" history students to take his local history class. He already has a waiting list for next year. He won't take on any new ones at semester because of all the work he would have to review and I don't blame him!

Many of our students live in the shadow of Big Brutus and yet have no idea of its significance. Besides helping enhance their understanding of this, we are preserving the history of our area. A former master's student from our university interviewed black coal miners back in the 60s and has moved back to the area. He is a former teacher so he works with the students well. His original transcripts were lost in a fire and the original tapes have disappeared in our department somewhere (the faculty member is no longer living). So we are working really hard to preserve the region's history. Also, the students are able to talk to neighbors and relatives in way a professor can't.

But, I am learning lots of stuff about coal mining.......never thought I'd develop an interest in labor history but it's been quite intriguing - especially since Upton Sinclair wrote for the locally published Appeal to Reason. I've also enjoyed reading about Mother Jones and John L. Lewis. There is still a group of men who belonged to the UMW District 14 that meet every month here in town.

Back to the AHA - it was a blessing to be reassured about assessment - we've gone through the roughest part and now we will have a much more workable "conceptual framework."

I've also been keeping to my plan to learn more technology and my copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver Studio MX arrived the other day. I have been reading my Hands on Training book from Lynda Weinmann and company and am learning a lot.

I am the dept. webmaster and will have to redesign our web page to make it accessible and this book had a chapter finally explaining what that really means. We have just been told we "have to do it" without any context - something we guard against doing ourselves as teachers. But now it, too, seems doable.

I'm sure I'll think of something else about the AHA but for now it was quite simply the best AHA I've been to. I'm really looking forward to the OAH this spring - especially since Memphis is driveable. In addition, the TAH project director will have a meeting there and so it may be a fun road trip, too. That's another advantage of the TAH grants, I'm working with a local education expert who works at Greenbush and she is teaching me a lot and is all you could ask for in a project director - she has insight as well as knowing how to get the job done.

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