American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

May 2005

Teaching American History Programs’ NYCDOE Region 4 and 7

In our second year of providing professional development to New York City public school teachers through the federally-funded Teaching American History initiative, ASHP/CML is conducting two large programs serving teachers in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island (in addition to offering workshops through other TAH-funded projects). These programs have enabled ASHP/CML to undertake in-depth work with 80 middle and high school social studies teachers, challenging them to engage with broad historical questions and helping them to develop classroom materials appropriate to their students’ diverse needs.

Thomas Nast political cartoon, 1867.
A political cartoon by Thomas Nast published in an 1867 edition of Harper's Weekly was one of many anti-Irish images discussed by historian Kevin Kenny in his talk about Irish immigration.

Teachers have responded enthusiastically to talks by historians Karen Kupperman (Early Encounters), Herbert Sloan (American Revolution), Joshua Brown (Gilded Age), Kevin Kenny (Irish immigration), Van Gosse (Cold War), and Matthew Frye Jacobson (Early 20th Century Immigration). The program uses these talks to anchor day-long Retreats focused on particular topics, and teachers also explore resources and approaches for teaching the topics to their students. Museum partners the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Historical Society, and Museum of Television and Radio have hosted Retreats introducing teachers to materials unique to each institution’s collection. Both TAH programs will culminate at the end of the school year with four-day summer institutes where teachers will work in small groups to revisit the historical questions raised at each Retreat and develop materials that they can use with their students. Program evaluators from the Center for Children and Technology at the Education Development Center are providing data to ASHP/CML about the program’s effectiveness and its impact on teacher practice.

Strengthening Humanities Education in New Small Schools

For the last few years, ASHP/CML has participated in a national education reform initiative focusing on improving student achievement in new small schools. Making Connections program has worked with new small public secondary schools in the Bronx to develop rigorous professional development models to enrich interdisciplinary humanities education. The program seeks to address some of the challenges facing new small schools such as sustaining effective learning communities, particularly with educators new to teaching.

Bronx New Small Schools teachers
Bronx New Small Schools teachers showcase activity examining race in U.S. history: (left to right, standing) John Murren (HS for Teaching and the Professions), Donald Byrd (School for Community Based Learning), and Eftyhia Mihalitsanos (HS for Teaching and the Professions). Seated: (rear to camera) Alberta Arnold (LaGuardia Community College Faculty Mentor) and Monty Everett (School for Community Based Learning).

Making Connections’ new Bronx small schools include New Explorers High School, Community School for Social Justice, Fannie Lou Hamer High School, Peace and Diversity High School, School for Community Research and Learning, School for Excellence, and High School for Teaching and the Professions. More than twenty-five teachers have received sustained professional development from ASHP/CML education staffers and CUNY faculty mentors via year-long training seminars that feature American history curriculum resources (documentaries, lesson plans, textbooks, study guides) and multimedia technology instruction. Matching content and direct access to CUNY faculty mentors, the program has garnered the praise of participants: My mentor, one social studies teacher reported, “was a joy to work with. I gained encouragement and the support [I] needed. . . [H]er English background was a source for strategy ideas I’d never considered before. Her personal background is one my students can appreciate and relate to as well.”

Program content covers subjects that range from the American Revolution to the Great Migration, and teaching topics such as multicultural education, using primary sources, and classroom management. Seminar locations have included the Museum of Television and Radio and the New York Public Library. When asked about ASHP/CML’s impact on student achievement, teachers have remarked on the program’s contribution to improving their students’ Regents examination scores.

Making Connections is funded by CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs, the New York Community Trust, and the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation. For more information on the program: /making-connections

The Lost Museum Goes Platinum

The Lost Museum, ASHP/CML’s online re-creation of Barnum’s American Museum and introduction to mid-nineteenth-century U.S. history, won the Platinum Award for Interactive-Educational New Media at the 38th annual WorldFest Film Festival. Worldfest, one of the oldest competitive international media Festivals, was held in Houston, Texas, during the last week in April 2005. In April The Lost Museum also was the recipient of an Honorable Mention Award for excellence in interactive media production in the Horizon Interactive Awards competition.

History Matters Awarded NYPL’s “Best of Reference”

Each year a committee of librarians from The New York Public Library selects reference books and websites to be designated “Best of Reference” based on their usefulness in local branch reference work. This year our History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web website was among the 25 recipients of this citation celebrated at a ceremony at NYPL’s Donnell Library Center on April 29th.

This is the second year an ASHP/CML online resource has been cited by the New York Public Library: The September 11 Digital Archive (also produced in collaboration with the Center for History and New Media) was included in 2004’s Best of Reference.

ASHP/CML Site Survey

Here at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, we pride ourselves on creating innovative and challenging digital projects as well as devising critical and rigorous approaches to their use in classroom and other educational settings.

Now that the World Wide Web encompasses a good part of our activities, it is increasingly our most accessible public face. Since we began establishing our presence on the Web relatively early in the development of the Internet, that face has a habit of aging rather rapidly. As we update our website with new programming and content we realize a few short years later that it needs a new technological and informational face lift!

The limitation of cosmetic metaphors notwithstanding, we have been striving to make our central site ( as useful and transparent as possible, permitting visitors to more easily locate whatever information they seek (whether it be information about ASHP/CML and its activities and “products,” teaching resources, ways to order our materials, etc.) not to mention to better understand our rather intricate and eclectic nature.

To that end, we would like to turn to you, our friends, colleagues, and users, to help us determine what the ASHP/CML website needs to best serve our diverse community. We have set up an online survey and would deeply appreciate your taking the time to let us know what you think.