American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

September 2006

Teaching American History: Region 7

In June 2006, ASHP/CML received a new Teaching American History grant, the fifth for which it designed the program and will act as lead partner. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Teaching American History program aims to improve teachers’ and students’ U.S. history knowledge, and their skill in working with primary documents in key areas of the U.S. history curriculum. In this three-year program, ASHP/CML will work with middle and high school teachers in Region 7 of the New York City public school system, which encompasses schools in Staten Island and Brooklyn. We will continue to work with local historians and partners such as the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Museum of Television and Radio, and Education Development Center to help teachers delve deeply into historical topics, share teaching practices, and create and refine materials and activities for classroom use.

Region 7 Teachers enjoying a boat tour
Teachers from ASHP's first TAH program with Region 7 of the NYC public schools enjoyed a boat tour on the industrial history of the Brooklyn waterfront in May, 2006, with ASHP and the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Expo 2006: Bending Technologies In and Out of Academia

This November the New Media Lab and the Intermedia Arts Group will present Expo 2006: Bending Technologies In and Out of Academia, featuring presentations and performances by the pioneering interactive media artist Morton Subotnick and the creators of This Spartan Life, a talk show residing in the online Halo multiplayer universe.

This exciting participatory event will showcase artists, students, and scholars who are mixing media technologies in unusual ways and breaking ground in communications, creativity, and academia. Participants will include CUNY faculty working in the field of experimental media, The Graduate Center’s Intermedia Arts Group, researchers from the New Media Lab, and special guests This Spartan Life. Join us for an evening of innovation and interaction!

Expo 2006 will be held on Friday, November 17th, from 5:30-9:00 pm in the CUNY Graduate Center’s Segal Theatre. Refreshments will be served. Check the Graduate Center’s New Media Lab website for further details closer to the event date.

Picturing United States History: An Online Resource for Teaching With Visual Evidence

In April 2006 ASHP/CML received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support Picturing United States History: An Online Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence. Based on the belief that visual materials are vital to understanding the American past, Picturing U.S. History (PUSH) will provide Web-based guides, essays, case studies, classroom activities, and online forums that help teachers incorporate visual evidence into their classroom practice. The website will supplement standard accounts of U.S. history with visual analysis and activities that allow students to engage with the process of interpretation in a more robust fashion than through text alone.

Picturing U.S. History, which has been designated a We, The People project by NEH, will begin this coming January with a three-day workshop involving the unique collaboration of participating historians and art historians. Watch for reports on PUSH in upcoming newsletters.

Teaching U.S. History in the Age of New Media

ASHP/CML is participating in a conference to celebrate the completion of Investigating U.S. History, a new media project involving 23 faculty members from twelve CUNY campuses to create and test interactive multimedia “lab” modules for use in the introductory college U.S. history survey. The project’s premise is to let students “do history” using the growing amount of online archival materials and to direct their use of primary sources through sophisticated inquiry-based activities developed by faculty. The modules utilize a rich array of resources including presidential audio excerpts from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson, photographs and folk music of the 1930s, and religious tracts from the nineteenth century.

The public launch of Investigating U.S. History offers college and secondary school faculty (and potential faculty) the opportunity to discuss the state of teaching U.S. history in the age of multimedia. This half-day academic conference features a keynote address by Stanford University’s Sam Wineburg, author of the groundbreaking study on how historians know what they know, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts (2001). Faculty participants also will present and discuss the modules they developed, and the conference will conclude with breakout sessions on approaches to teaching specific U.S. historical periods and themes.

Join us on Friday, November 17th, from 1:00-5:00 pm in The Graduate Center’s Recital Hall. To RSVP or for additional information contact David Jaffee, History, CCNY, 212-650-7468.

Who Built America? Documentaries Available on DVD

With their release in DVD format, ASHP/CML’s Who Built America? Series Two documentaries-1877: The Grand Army of Starvation, Savage Acts: Wars, Fairs, and Empire, Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl, and Up South-have moved into the twenty-first century. Series One programs will follow soon. The DVD versions of the documentaries are broken into thematic chapters to allow easy selection of excerpts for teaching.

To mark the introduction of the new format, we have lowered the price for all our documentaries. Series One programs are now available for $20 each, or the complete set of six programs for $100; and Series Two programs are $30 each, or the complete set of four programs for $100. Shipping and handling fees are also reduced to $7 per title or $20 for a series. We hope these reduced prices will allow individual teachers to purchase tapes for their courses. Please spread the word and visit our website for ordering information.

The Lost Museum Cited for Digital Education Achievement

Lost Museum Prize Cartoon

The Center for Digital Education announced the winners of its annual Digital Education Achievement Awards in late September and ASHP/CML’s website The Lost Museum: Exploring Antebellum U.S. Life and Culture garnered the top prize in the 2006 competition in the “Teacher-focused” category. The website, which combines 3-D techniques with a rich archive of primary documents to re-create P. T. Barnum’s American Museum and explore mid-nineteenth century American history, has attracted almost 100,000 visitors in 2006 alone, a number that almost rivals the original institution’s appeal. The DEA Award is the most recent recognition of The Lost Museum’s innovative approach to online history education; the website previously was cited as an exemplary EDSITEment resource by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and received the 2005 Worldfest Houston Platinum Award in Interactive-Educational Media and an Horizon Interactive Honorable Mention Award.