Tuesday, September 30, 2008

State NCHE meeting

We offered our current grant teachers the opportunity to attend the joint KS/MO NCHE meeting in Blue Springs. It was the caliber of a national meeting not only with an excellent schedule but keynotes by Sam Wineburg and Bill Brands.

Glenn Wiebe from ESSDACK beat me to the punch in calling Sam a stud. I thought everyone already knew that . . .

This is the first time since his March 2008 Journal of American History article on American heroes that I have heard Sam speak. He was his usual engaging self with the audience. It's clear he knows how to connect with whomever is his audience. Since most of our grant teachers took an online course on Historical Cognition centered around Sam's work last fall, it was even more meaningful them to see him live and in person.

Bill Brands is also an engaging speaker and keeps me interested in topics like Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson that are normally beyond my 20th-century-heavy focus of interest. His forthcoming book on FDR should be especially interesting.

Both scholars are quite personable and enjoy speaking with teachers. It probably doesn't hurt that both started out life as teachers.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute had a presence at the conference and I was proud to see one of my former students and one of our MA grads through Project eHIKES names the Kansas History Teacher of the Year - congratulations, TJ!

I picked up a Colorado colleague whom I encouraged to attend downtown after he and his son arrived on Amtrak Thursday morning. I met up with them at the Liberty Memorial and then we met Elise at the National Archives and headed over with Reed and Diana to eat at my all-time favorite - Gates. We also got a meal in at On The Border and Bristol's downtown. On Saturday, we headed to Lawrence so Rich could show his son his alma mater. Then, I headed home to the farm to recharge. I'm noticing I'm not 25 anymore . . . if I could just keep getting more of the "calm" energy that is supposed to come with being 40+ . . .

Yesterday in my teaching methods class, we talked about historical thinking and Wineburg. I told students we would read some more work by him later and do a sample "think aloud". I explained it wasn't quite time to do that given our current involvement in developing lesson plans - they are already overwhelmed, in other words given that they are finishing up their first full blown lesson plan. We start by putting a lesson plan they find online into the template that seems to fit what many area schools use. It is an interesting challenging getting teacher candidates to start understanding what will really be expected of them in the professional world that goes so far beyond and is quite distinct from the primarily paper-and-pencil passive tests they have been taking throughout their student careers. Only after student teaching do they fully come to realize that there is a method to my madness.

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I also thought the conference was very well organized and the two keynotes were fantastic.

Thanks for the link!

I'll be checking back to see how your ed students are doing with Sam's ideas.

Glenn Wiebe
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