Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Archive for the ‘Curriculum ideas’ Category

 

fischerquoteThis December, as they have since the end of World War II, residents and visitors to Algona, Iowa, will gather to view a Nativity Scene created by German architect Eduard Kaib while he was a German Prisoner of War at Camp Algona.

Kaib, an architect by trade, created a small nativity scene that impressed the Camp Commander who asked him to create a larger version. Kaib enlisted five friends to help create 60 half-size figures from wood, wire and plaster. Prisoners paid for the construction. When World War II ended the camp was disbanded and the scene was left to the city of Algona. It was first available for public viewing Christmas 1945.  Since the 1950s the scene has been housed in a special building.  The nativity scene is maintained by the Algona United Methodist Church and available for viewing each holiday season. Visitors have included former POWs and family members.

German POWs were able to pursue other artistic endeavors while living at Camp Algona. There was a camp orchestra, band, and German language newspaper and art classes.  A small crèche, carvings, woodwork and paintings are displayed at the Camp Algona Museum. Exhibits depict POW camp experiences, POW contributions to the farm economy, and their interactions with community members who feared the POWS until they realized “they look just like us.”  Exhibits also highlight camp military and civilian workers, contributions of Kossuth County women to the war effort, and Americans held in Axis POW camps. Four military guards stationed at Camp Algona were former prisoners in these camps. Prisoners received medical treatment and only a very few died while at the camp; a Lutheran pastor provided Sunday worship services in English and German.

Camp Algona was the base camp for over 10,000 German Prisoners of War from 1943-1946. Branch camps were in Iowa and neighboring states. One branch camp, the Whitewater POW Camp, was at a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp  in Winona County (Southeast Minnesota.)  Camp Algona’s buildings were torn down and the wood was reused after the war ended. The camp site is now the location of a National Guard Armory and a city airport.

After visiting the museum we spoke with a local citizen who grew up a farm near the camp.  She got to know prisoners who worked on the family farm or attended church with her family. These friendships were not uncommon and many former POWS visited Algona after the War.  Visiting the  Camp Algona Museum was on my “do” list for far too long; it was well worth the wait and visit. Two photos of museum displays and and resources are below.

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The Camp Algona Nativity Scene (PDF)
POW Nativity Scene, narrated video with script, First United Methodist Church
Camp Algona Museum (website with links to the Nativity Scene)
Whitewater’s German POW Camp; Learning more about POWs in the U.S. (with  resource list)

Learn how to find and use primary sources in your classroom!

 

Once or twice a month I work as a gallery greeter at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. First time visitors invariably make a bee-line to George Washington Crossing the Delaware by  Emmanuel Leutze,, one of the two surviving versions of the iconic painting. Last week a group of college students were absolutely giddy about being able to view. They looked, talked, asked questions and came back for a second look after touring the rest of the gallery.  I love historical art and seeing conversations like those take place.    What other paintings can

Are paintings primary sources? Can one painting stimulate inquiry and exploration? Can it be the centerpiece of a lesson or interdisciplinary learning? How can maps be paired with paintings?  In the November/December New Media Center column  I shared some ideas that illustrate the power of a painting, used alone or paired with another resource to provide a great learning activity.  For the Love of Historical Art!  

 

 

 

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The Digital Public Library of America is a relatively new aggregated collection of digital resources in varied formats from more than 1,600 contributing institutions, including libraries, archives, museums, and entities such as public radio stations.  DPLA released 30 primary source sets for educators last fall; additional sets were recently released.

The sets are designed by educators and an education advisory panel to help teach content, facilitate inquiry, and support research in overlapping curriculum topics related to American history, literature, and culture.

The set landing page has a clean, uncluttered look. An easily identifiable pictorial icon for each set invites a quick browse through the available titles.  Each set includes 15–20 resources represented by an icon, a teaching guide, and additional resources for research.  Set topics include the Panama Canal, Chinese immigration, the atomic bomb, A Raisin in the SunLittle Women, and  the postwar rise of the suburbs.

All Primary Source Sets have the same layout and features. As an example The Impact of Television on News Media  includes photos, text, and video and audio recordings. A brief black-and-white video clip of President John F. Kennedy urging the press to use discretion when covering news events intrigued me. In an audio interview, a journalist  explains the increasing power of television network news. Photos depict early television personalities and televisions; a text chapter addresses the impact of television on news. These resources all invite close reading, viewing, and listening while also offering multiple approaches to learning at different levels. The set teaching guide includes discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis suggestions. There are also links to Document Analysis Worksheets from the National Archives and Using Primary Sources materials from the Library of Congress.

Excerpted from  THE NEW MEDIA CENTER: Resources for the New Media Specialist–DPLA’s Primary Source Sets and Ben’s Guide, Refreshed! January/February 2015, Published by Information Today    Full article

Learn more about using Primary Source sets in your classroom

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Harlem Rens Poster Collage

A fun part of exploring primary sources is discovering unique artifacts  that are not what we typically expect.  One example is an  interview with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball that was recently discovered by a Kansas University Professor.

The interview inspired me to renew  my search for Library of Congress resources  about the Harlem Rens. I learned about the Rens while watching On the Shoulders of Giants: An Audio Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance,  a movie based on Kareen Abduhl Jabbar’s audio book.  The film is about so much more than basketball!  Primary sources support the fascinating narrative of segregation, civil rights and of course the Rens.  Jabbar was at the showing.  It was incredibly inspiring.

LOC has a few items related to the Rens.
Genial Robert Douglas, who operates the Renaissance Casino, with his cat Rennie  (Photograph showing Douglas, owner of the Renaissance Casino in Harlem and founder of the Renaissance Five basketball team, holding his cat.)
S.Con.Res.57 – A concurrent resolution recognizing the contributions of African-American basketball teams and players for their achievements, dedication, and contributions to the sport of basketball and the Nation.

I could almost hear everyone’s head spinning with curriculum ideas!
What are your ideas for incorporating sports and sports history into the curriculum?

More Resources
Today in History & New York mayoral proclamation (2013)
The Harlem Rens (Black Fives Foundation)
LOC:   Primary Source Sets , eBook Student Discovery Sets and teaching ideas
Harlem Renaissance
Jim Crow and Segregation

On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of,  2011 historical sports documentary film directed by Deborah Morales, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse.

KU professor discovers only known audio recording of James Naismith, inventor of basketball

Learn more about using Primary Sources in your classroom

 

studentdiscoverysetsExciting news!  The Library of Congress has released 3 new Student Discovery Sets. The titles and topics are:

  • Japanese American Internment
  • Political Cartoons and The American Debate
  • Women’s Suffrage

The new ebooks and the 9 previously published ebooks support commonly taught curriculum topics; they will be helpful for teachers supporting learning with primary sources in a 1:1classroom or for whole group inquiry and engaged learning. Library of Congress Teachers Page sets complement the primary source sets on the same topics.

Resources

Don’t commit crimes in St. Paul!  Rule #1 defined the cozy relationship between the St. Paul Police Department and notable gangsters residing there in the early 1930’s.

“St. Paul Police Chief” Tom Brown entertained us with tales of John Dillinger, Ma Barker and sons, Creepy Karpis and other notables during an entertaining bus-tour of St. Paul’s gangster locations.

We drove by a home once inhabited by the “nice neighbor” Ma Barker and the apartment once home to John Dillinger and site of a shoot-out.  We visited the site of a payroll robbery and shootout in SOUTH St. Paul and enjoyed entertaining stories of “Madam” Nina Clifford’s” brothel with its tunnel connecting it to a men’s club.

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“Chief Brown” at Swede Hollow Park, the former site of the Hamm Mansion.

We stopped at the site of the former Hamm mansion (home of the brewing  family) in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood to see where William Hamm Jr. was kidnapped and taken away from the Land of Sky Blue Waters to Chicago.
Historic Photo: Reporters and onlookers at the Hamm residence following the kidnapping.

The Gangster tour is a fun and an interesting way to learn about a seamier side of St. Paul’s history. The tour includes a bit of literary history with glimpses of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Summit Avenue home and Garrison Keillor’s current residence. The mansion of railroad builder James J. Hill is nearby.

The tour begins at the man-made Wabasha Street Caves, known as a gangster hideout but originally used to raise mushrooms. The Caves are open for tours and for weekly swing dance parties. A fun spring day in the Saintly City!

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Wabasha Street Caves

Wabasha St. Caves bar

Lib Guide Minn. Historical Society
Gangsters in St. Paul
Gangster images and artifacts

What’s in your back yard?

WatchFobWhat was in Lincoln’s Pockets the night he was assassinated? 

Lincoln’s Pockets, a Library of Congress professional development activity  answers the question. These artifacts are available to teachers and students digitally in Lincoln’s Pockets, a LOC Teacher’s Page Professional Development Activity. The complete packet includes facilitator directions, participant questions, and links to the artifacts. Some objects are easily identifiable, most, such as the object on the left,  are not. (What do you think it is?)

The engaging (and easy to implement) activity generates interest and questioning as participants try to identify each object and decide what they have in common. The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the evening of his assassination are part of the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniania

Numerous museums and cultural organizations are holding special events and exhibits to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.  Remembering a Fiendish Assassination is an especially unique event sponsored by the The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. One commemorative experience will be a reenactment of Lincoln’s funeral train procession from its arrival in Springfield, Illinois, to Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. Funeral Train Reenactment website.

JohnWilkesBoothThe 10-year old Springfield museum is incredibly fascinating and educational. Visitors enter the  extensive Presidential Journeys Gallery through a replica of the White House entrance. John Wilkes Booth stands off to the side, watching the Lincoln Family, Frederick Douglas, and other White House visitors.

An especially moving exhibit is a recreation of the Ford’s Theater assassination and a recreation of Lincoln’s closed casket.

The museum utilizes extensive technology to heighten the visitation experience. A  battlefield scene is loud and intense; in another live presentations it is hard to distinguish a live actor from a hologram. The museum and nearby Lincoln sites such as his home and office are well worth the visit.  There is a lot to see in Springfield. Allow at least two days!


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