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Reflections from New England July 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 3:22 am

I must say, it is good to be home!  I truly enjoyed our trip to New England, but being away from my family for that long was tough!  (I know many of us felt the same!)  Since I’ve been back it has been one activity after another; running kids to dance, softball, swimming and of course stressing about my house not being done and living with my mother-in-law!  All that aside, I have had the opportunity to begin to think about how will I take the knowledge I gained from this trip and put it to use.

One of the most important lessons that I learned on this trip was the value of “doing.”  When we were at the Old Sturbridge Village and we made dinner and did the other activities, I was authentically engaged.  Our school district’s mission statement speaks of engaging students to help them learn at a higher level.  What I hope to take back to the classroom from this experience is ways to engage my students.  I believe that I do engage them but I know I can do a better job on a daily basis.  One way to do this is by using primary source documents and artifacts.

I was part of the DBQ cohort and I believe that is going to help me as well.  Using the primary sources from something like the DBQ along with artifacts that relate to the topic is one strategy I want to utilize in my classroom.  We participated in an activity similar to this at the Paul Revere House.  I found this to be an engaging way to think about history. This is what I want my students to feel about my lessons; excited and inquisitive about the past.

I wish Wyoming were closer to where the colonial action was because I would take my students on a field trip.  There really isn’t anything like experiencing history.  Walking the Freedom Trail, standing on the Lexington Green, interacting with Pilgrims, touching John and Abigail Adams’ letters; these are experiences I will never forget, but not experiences I can give to my students. (But I can share my pictures and incorporate my new knowledge into the classroom).

I look forward to the week in Cheyenne learning how to use technology in the classroom.  This is one particular item of interest to me; it is a way to bring history alive without actually setting foot on the actual spot.  We gained so many valuable resources from our trip that it will be great to learn ways to put them to good use.

I was asked by a friend and fellow teacher what my favorite part of the trip was and I couldn’t answer him.  I enjoyed all of it.  Thank you for the wonderful opportunity!!!



Maine June 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 2:30 am

A day full of sunshine??!!  Could it be?  This was exactly what we experienced during our trip to Maine today.  What a fabulous day of history and natural beauty.  We began our day at Pemaquid State Park where we viewed the remains of the colonial Pemaquid building  and museum.  Here we saw a different method of construction from the early colonists at Plimoth; here they built their homes on rock foundations rather than just dirt floors.  We also visited a reconstruction of Fort William Henry; a military fort that was attacked and destroyed by the French and Native Americans.

Coastline at Pemaquid

Dr. Baker at Pemaquid Historic SiteOne of the most remarkable sites we visited was Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. This is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the United States still used by the US Coast Guard. Not only was the view from the top beautiful but we learned that this lighthouse is on the Maine state quarter! Who knew?Pemaquid Point LighthouseView around the lighthouse

Our last stop of the day was to Freeport; the home of LL Bean.  Not really a historic site in the traditional sense but historic none the less.  Most of us ate lobster in one form or another.  It just doesn’t seem right to go to Maine and not eat lobster!

Overall, it was interesting to hear of the colonial experience from someplace other than Massachusetts.  An interesting opinion I heard today was how some people from Maine don’t care for people from Massachusetts.  Apparently this has to do with the time when Maine was part of Massachusetts; there seems to still be some resentment!

One more day in New England.


Bunker Hill Monument

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 2:29 am

The Bunker Hill Monument in Boston is an obelisk on Breeds
Hill.  Why in the world would this battle be commemorated in this fashion?  Does it have any significant historical meaning?
Did the designers just like the shape? And why is the monument on Breeds Hill and not Bunker Hill?  Simple questions without simple answers.  These were just a few of the questions I had about this obscure momument.

On June 17, 1775 a battle took place that would change the course of history.  The British realized that they must secure the hills of Charleston and Dorchester Neck to take control over the rebellious colonists.  When the Continental  Army heard of this plan, Captain William Prescott led 1,200 men across Bunker Hill to Breeds Hill and built a dirt redoubt.  It is possible that since Breed’s Hill is slightly higher than Bunker Hill that it was the hill that was chosen to build the fortification.  In the light of the morning, the British army saw the fortification and prepared to attack.  They set the city of Charleston on fire and began their attack.  The Continental Army drove the British back two times before running out of ammunition and retreating off Breed’s Hill after a fierce bayonette attack.

The hill became recognized as sacred ground in the years following the battle but it wasn’t until 1794 that a monument was placed at the spot.  The first monument honored Dr. Joseph Warren who lost his life in the battle.  By the early 1800’s a group of Americans(The Bunker Hill Monument Association) began to solicit funds to build a monument to honor all who fought here.  In 1825 the cornerstones were laid for the monument but by 1840, the obilisk was only half complete.  Suprisingly, a group of women planned a fair and bake sale to raise funds.  This lasted 8 days and raised $30,000.  This along with donations from two wealthy men paid for the completion of the obilisk.  The monument was dedicated on June 17, 1843 with over 100,000 people in attendance.

On that day of the dedication, Daniel Webster spoke: “the monument stands a memorial of the past, a monitor to the present, and to all succeeding generations.” This is the best description of the purpose of the monument.  Why was an obelisk created to commemorate the battle?  Maybe to symbolize the height ofthe hill, maybe to be a beacon that can be viewed from many areas of Boston.  Whatever the reason, the monument was built to recognize all Americans who fought at the battle, even the 100-150 Native Americans and Africans who fought.  It became important to Americans following the struggle for independence to remember those who fought and gave their lives for freedom.  The Bunker Hill Monument serves that purpose.


The Modern “Old Sturbridge Village” June 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 1:52 am

This morning we all hopped on the bus at 7:30 to make an hour and a half trip to Sturbridge, MA, home of Old Sturbridge Village, an 1830’s village. I had high expectations for the day as we were told we would be making dinner for ourselves they way the early Americans did.  I was not disappointed!  This turned out to be a very informative, engaging day.

We began with a tour of the village(along with about 1100 students, who at times cold be very pushy, but hey they are kids right!?)  Our guide did an excellent job of explaining the various buildings and activities occurring throughout the area.  We saw a potter at work as well as a blacksmith, farmers, women, and a school mistress.  As I was walking around the village-which was quite large-I began to think that this was very “modern”.  1830 is not exactly what most would consider to be the modern age, but compared to Plimoth Plantation it is very modern. 

Farmer explaining many uses of wood

School mistress

Both of these villages were similar in that they were subsistent farmers and did what they needed to survive but how they did these were quite different.  The gardens and farmlands in Sturbridge were much larger than Plimoth and were not planted in raised plots.  We were told that most of the land, if it was not too steep, was used for either animals or crops.  It was also obvious that the villagers were dependent on each other.  They traded their goods and helped each other when a need arose; Sturbridge also had a store in which villagers could get items imported from lands as far away as China.  At Plimoth, the villagers were lucky to get items from as far away as England.

view of the common area

One of the most interesting parts of the day besides the tour was the hands on activities and meal preparation.  My group created a reverse painting-we traced a picture on a transparent piece of plastic, painted it, then turned it over.  The other groups did printing press/writing, and weaving.  All seemed to enjoy their activities.  We also played many childrens’ games of the time.  The last adventure of the day was to prepare a meal for the group.  We made roast chicken(this cooked in a metal roasting oven that we had to time and turn the rotisserie every 10 minutes), stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, carrots, lemonade, and cake.  One group made butter and we made whipped cream(using a whisk made out of sticks is not exactly like opening a tub of Cool Whip or breaking out the hand mixer!!)  All of this was completed in less than 2 hours.  Not like Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals but pretty amazing none-the-less!  I enjoyed the meal much more than the meal we had at Plimoth-maybe because it was more “modern”.

whipping some cream

I must say that this was a very enjoyable day.  Any time students have the opportunity to “do” history they are going to be engaged, and I most certainly was!  I would love to bring my own children here sometime.


Salem and Essex County June 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 3:05 am

The past 2 days we have been in Salem, Danvers, Saugus, and back to Salem.  It has been cold and rainy; not exactly the perfect weather for visiting outdoor sites!  Today I felt that it might snow at any minute!

We started our adventure yesturday at the Salem Witch Memorial and Charter Street Cemetery.  The memorial was nice but the cememtery is where the real history was.  I found it fascinating how the pictures and designs on the headstones changed over time.  As Dr. Emerson pointed out to us, using headstones to interpret the past would be a great way to engage students. 

We visited Salem Village(better known as Danvers) to view the Parsonage Archaeology Site.  The foundation that remains tells the story of the importance of the church and the minister to Salem Village. Our next stop was Rebecca Nurse’s House in Danvers.  Not at all what I would expect a “Witch’s” house to look like!!  Here again we got a glimpse of colonial life.  It is fascinating how simple yet practical the homes were during this time.


Salem Village Parsonage


Rebecca Nurse House

The last stop of the day was at the Saugus Ironworks.  What a site!  I honestly had no idea that this place existed.  When I think of early New England, I don’t think of ironworks at all.  I assumed most of the iron needed was imported from Britain-boy was I wrong!  These colonists had some state of the art iron production facilities right here in New England!  Because “outsiders” or “non-Puritains” worked in the ironworks, I could use this is the classroom to help students make connections to later times where there was segregation based on ethnicity or religion.

Saugus Ironworks

On Sunday we began our day at the House of Seven Gables.  I knew that the house had something to do with Nathanial Hawthorne but I didn’t know what.  I have never read his book with the same name so I was enlightened during this tour.  Our guide was extremely knowledgable and a pleasure to listen to.  I especially liked the hidden staircase-what fun that must have been for children living in the house!

The House of Seven Gables

Our last stop of the day was the Peabody Essex Museum.  Here Dr. Baker gave us an informative tour of some of the early American decorative arts showcased in the museum.  I must say that Dr. Baker is so passionate about his craft that it is so much fun to listen to him!

A common theme throught these past two days certainly has been how to use objects to interpret and make sense of the past.  From gravestones to housing styles to decorative arts-all help us to try to solve the mysteries of the past.

Off to Boston tomorrow to walk the Freedom Trail.  Hopefully the weather cooperates!


The Shot Heard Round the World?! June 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 1:31 am

The shot heard round the world-was it Lexington or Concord that can claim this as the first shot of the Revolution?  After visiting sites in Lexington and Concord today, I heard varying claims. Everyone knows that the first squirmish was infact in Lexington but was it really the first shot of the Revolution? According to the guide at the North Bridge, the first shots of the Revolution actually occured here because it was an organized military action.  Although much of what we have been told in our history lessons was that the beginning of the Revolution was at Lexington, there are definate alternate interpretations.  This follows along with the idea that the “Past” is what really happened and “History” is the interpretation of that happening.  Along with where the first shot was fired, it is important to think of who fired the first shot as well.  During our time at the North Bridge, we got to participate in and hear 8 first-hand accounts of the events at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775.  Although all 8 people experienced that single event, all accounts revealed details that varied; some more than others.  So…Who fired the first shot?  According to “History” it was the British, but we may never know for sure.  This was an excellent activity to use in the classroom; students must think critically and solve the mystery of a historic event. 

Musket firing at Buckman Tavern

This day was amazing!  I learned so much by just by setting foot on these historic locations.  I wish all teachers, and students for that matter, could experience the sense of pride and patriotism that I felt when I walked onto Lexington Green, or saw the house where John Hancock and Samuel Adams were the night Paul Revere came to warn them of the British troop movements, or even seen the Buckman Tavern where a makeshift hospital was created to tend to the wounded British soldiers.

North Bridge

Off for some witch hunting tomorrow in Salem!!


Plymouth Rock June 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — batestrishadiane @ 1:48 am

Our first excursion was to Plymouth today.  We visited Plymouth Rock, The Mayflower II, The Plimoth Plantation and  Wampanog homesite.  I must say that Plymouth Rock is not what history has cracked it up to be.  It looks more like a landscape rock with an address on it rather than an “important” national treasure!Plymouth Rock  I was “warned” that the rock was really not much to see, but I guess I was expecting so much more.  One of the most important lessons of the day was that the Past is what really happened and History is the interpretation of the past.  This is definitely true for Plymouth Rock; the interpretation of the landing on the Rock has been fictionalized and  dramatized so much that it is hard to believe that in all actuality, the Pilgrims did not even take their first steps on the Rock!

Rock sign Off to Lexington and Concord tomorrow.  I can’t wait!