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New York Wrap Up

As I reflect back on the last two weeks it becomes a blur, while telling my family about all that I had seen there are some experiences that are more memorable then others. This being my first time in New York I had no idea that it would be an assault to all my senses. The first sense that was invaded was my sight. The Brooklyn Bridge was beautiful, it looked so graceful connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. The next sense that was assaulted was my sense of smell, I thought it would smell terrible but it smelled pleasant most of the time, especially the bakeries making fresh bread. I will never forget that smell. My sense of sound was affected by the sound of the subway roaring by and the traffic. The press of people on the subway or the way the humidity affected everything was something unforgettable. But the most wonderful sense affected by New York, that unfortunately will leave its mark on my waistline, was the taste of all the food. It was wonderful and hard to resist. The three items that I will most remember and take back to my classroom with me, were Ellis Island, the New York Historical Society, and both the Roosevelt homes.

            The day spent at Ellis Island was so informative. It was wonderful to go to the hospital, I love walking where tourists are not normally taken to. As I signed in to research my family history, it was surprising how much information was available to the public. It showed ship manifests, as well as the ship itself. This will be incredibly useful for my students. This can be a useful component in our Ellis Island recreation. The students can research actual people, possibly relatives and find out when they came, where from and how they got here. I also loved that she gave us all those primary resources. This will come in handy when I plan my lessons for this unit.

            Spending the day at the New York Historical Society, inspired my lesson plan. This is an area that is fuzzy for my students. I especially liked how the presenter had us look at the primary sources and how she used her method of questioning to get her students to be the investigator. This information from this time period will greatly enhance my units that cover this period of history. I teach predominantly US History I and this day gave me new ideas to use and again primary source that are useable for my freshmen. It is stressful when trying to get my students to analyze documents and they have such low reading skills they cannot read the material. I think these documents are very student friendly.

            The last area that we visited that will be useful in my classroom, was visiting both the Roosevelt homes. It would be interesting to have my students compare the two presidents, not only what they did during their presidency, but their family life and their homes. Having the students analyze how this may have affected them as leaders, could help students use higher level thinking skills. I was surprised by how isolated these homes were and how they presented a retreat for both of these leaders. The pictures I took at both these homes will be nice to share with my students.

            The trip to New York was an unforgettable experience. As difficult as it is to be away from our family for two weeks, the learning that I experience will be a wonderful asset to my classroom. All of the sights were wonderful; there was not a destination that did not enrich my knowledge, even our day spent at the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and know it will help me make history come alive for my students.

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On this whirlwind of a day it is hard to select what was a favorite. The list begins with the church where the women’s rights convention was held. The Declaration of Sentiments was the original document that shared the women’s thoughts on what needed to change in their society. It was interesting as we entered the museum the gentlemen in our group seemed nervous. It shows that in today’s world this issue is still not completely solved. There were some displays that discussed sexual harassment in the work place today. As we watched the examples given we discussed is that really sexual harassment, it is difficult to identify for some and that is what makes this so relevant in society. Our next stop was some of the original members of the womens  movement residences. It was interesting that some were more ornate then others. I was surprised at how simple Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home was. It seems that with so little to occupy them, they had plenty of time to work passionately for women’s rights. Our next stop was William Seward’s’ home it was a beautiful mansion. I was shocked at how ornate it was, in comparison to both of the Roosevelt homes. As the day continued we toured the Harriet Tubman home and the later the tour of the Erie Canal.

            As the day wore on I had several ideas of how I would use this in my classroom. In each of these sites the Underground Railroad was often mentioned. This seemed to be an unintentional theme at each of these sites. As these people sought to change our world they seem to each feel compassion for the plight of slaves. I believe that is the idea I will most likely use in my classroom. At the Seward house they had a distance learning opportunity that focused on the Underground Railroad. This would be a neat way to bring history into the classroom. When I teach this unit, mind you I teach this to freshmen, one of them always as if this was an actual railroad. Having seen where these runaway slaves were housed on their journey to freedom, it will be much easier to teach to my students. It may be interesting to see if we could research a group’s journey and map it out attempting to show where these groups stopped on their journey.

            Even though this day was a little reminiscent of the Griswold’s attempt to see it all on their journeys across America and Europe in the Vacation movies, it was well worth it. Getting to see how some of these people lived, in often times simple homes, it was remarkable to see that they forever changed our world. As I listen to Maries slap happy giggle in the back of the bus, (what were you guys doing back there?), I believe that we would all agree that we got to visit some monumental figures in history.

            Although I thought that today at the Baseball Hall of Fame would not be relevant to anything that I would be teaching I was pleasantly surprised. The museum is set in the most picturesque town with baseball paraphernalia on every corner. As we traveled there I wondered how people in this area provided their living. There are beautiful farms but not a great deal of other industry to employ people. But as we pulled into town I was no longer wondering how people made their living. Clearly that is taken care of by the Hall of Fame. Walking through the halls I got a sense of what baseball meant to America. As people strolled through the exhibits with silent reverence, it was clear how respected this past time truly is. Our presenter was very enthusiasm about her job and that is always a pleasure. The variety of exhibits gave a bit so history on a multitude of genres. Its beginnings was interested, I had never know that the beginning of history was so contentious. I now know how it was invented, I think. I liked the Viva la Baseball exhibit; I knew that a great deal of baseball players moved here from Latin American countries, I was interested in how influential it was in Latin America. One of my most favorite exhibits was the Women in baseball. Not only were they players at different times in history, but they also wrote about, managed and owned teams. Their sphere of influence was more then just a pretty face.

            The most useful part of the museum was the distance learning component. This is the piece I will bring back and use in my classroom, hopefully. In years past as I have taught geography, I have used basketball teams to help my students that were sport fanatics learn states. This always was a big hit. The students felt successful because they could relate to the material that was being taught. And this connection helps cement those ideas in their heads. Hopefully this year we will use the America History and Multicultural piece. Both of these, I am sure the students will be excited to do unfortunately it may have to be taught to a large classroom, but the expense piece is a reality.

            I was pleasantly surprised to see that I enjoyed the day so much. The Hall of Fame was only one piece of history we saw today. The Fennimore Museum of Art, and the Farmers Museum was very interesting, I really liked all the items they had to offer. I was surprised to see such quality museums in such a small town. Surprisingly the one I will be most likely to use is the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am pleased I had the opportunity to visit it.

Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt has always seemed like this rough and tough individual, that was difficult to relate to as a person. I was always shocked that people had referred to him as Teddy. Such a familiar name seemed odd for this rugged individual. As we toured his summer house I got a much better picture of this interesting man. As we were guided though his life it was easy to understand where he got that name. Looking at his childhood wrought with illness, loved by a tender hearted father and a tough mother it was easy to see how he developed his determination. As a mom with a child that suffers from asthma, I can see how hard this would be, especially if your child is a rough and tumble always running and playing sports boy. Later in his life after he marries his first wife and suffers the loss of her and his mother just days after the birth of his daughter, one can imagine how that might built an unbreakable wall of despair, but that is not what he allowed to happen to his life. He remained a devoted and loving, if somewhat distant father. After hearing stories of his second wife and their family one can easily see how compassion, and caring he was. Especially reading some of the letters left behind, filled with loving words and well thought out advice. Teddy takes shape, this man that did so much to shape our country, in both foreign and domestic matters. His “Big Stick” policy surely is a result of his strong will that developed over his lifetime of diversity.

            One of the most insightful tidbits of information that I will bring back to my students is his commitment to progressive reforms. After seeing his personality take shape it is easier to see how this compassionate man could be swayed to be committed to reshaping the world around his. In the museum there were several different progressive era books on display such as, The Jungle, and How the Other Half Lives. This prolific reader was influenced by topics found in these books. I would suspect that they had a great deal of influence on his attempts at social reform. I would discuss the books with my students focusing on the main ideas presented in these books. Some will have read them in their literature class. Then I would have them research what reforms can be directly related to these books. It might also be interesting to look at the platforms of the Bull Moose, Republican and Democratic Parties during the 1912 election.

            Visiting Theodore Roosevelt’s home was so interesting. It helped to understand what influenced his political moves. I always liked that he was such a vital part of social reform. I had heard that he was motivated to reform the meat packing industry after reading The Jungle but had little ideas that he was such an avid reader. Another educational stop on our tour of History, this is such a wonderful opportunity.

 

Another fun filled day in New York. As I started out this morning I thought wistfully that today was the last day in New York City. As I look back on the week I think of all the wonderful experiences and new items of knowledge gained from this trip. As I looked at what I could most use, I thought colonial. I mostly teach from early history (Bering Land Bridge) through Reconstruction. As we went through the various days of early nineteenth century history, although I can use that information in some classes, I was very pleased to see the colonial side. I have not had as much experience in this area of history and am always pleased to have new information to bring to my students. Today was wonderful; it helped clear up how slavery affected New York. I now understood how the New York economy was so intimately tied to the south. I understood the trade but today it was interesting to tie in the political and social aspects of the affects of King Cotton South.

            I was so pleased that once again we received a large amount of primary sources that we can use in class. So much of the time when using primary sources, there is a great deal of searching involved. The sources we were given today were very relevant to the curriculum of US History I. This idea of looking at the primary sources and using the simplified set of questions that we used to complete the assignment is easily transferred to my classroom. I have usually used the analysis document on the National Archives site, but these questions are much more useful for the lower level of students in my classroom. They can complete higher level thinking skills and analyze but it is not as deep as the National Archives sheet of questions.

            As we continued our day we went to the Natural History Museum. And thanks to the finesse of my roommate Sheila we were able to visit the Silk Road Exhibit, for free. This was also very useful as I teach World History as well. They did a wonderful job displaying the economic impact of the trade route and all the unique items available because of this trade. We were discussing the book Salt and I believe that may be a book I want to read.

            Today was an awesome wrap to our whirlwind tour of New York. As I a first time visitor, I feel that I have truly seen the city. I absolutely love the subway and wish that we had this type of mass transit to use in Colorado. This bus just does not cut it. This was truly a once in a lifetime trip.

Today was such an awesome experience to see Ellis Island. As we met our educators for the day, Jessica and Dana, the enormity of the history hit me. They get to work at a historic site that almost everyone in America and for that matter the world can relate to. As we rode over on the boat it was easy to speak to the immigrant experience. One can imagine the fear and anticipation that the new arrivals would be feeling. For those that were coming to work, would they find a job? If they were alone they may think of their homeland and family. For those that were being reunited with loved ones what excitement to finally see them again. The photographs that were displayed throughout the exhibit really gave a glimpse at immigrant culture. The costumes and languages that an average worker must hear a day would be a unique glimpse into the world. To think what some of them had left behind again the uncertainty would be enormous.

There were several interesting stops in the museum; the first I ran into was the kissing post. This was where families would be reunited. The plaque tells of the interesting ways that families would greet one another. For the Italians, there would be several kisses for the children but little affection displayed for the wife. The Jewish custom was an enormous amount of kisses for the family, as if they could not get enough. The back ground tour of the hospital was really a unique experience for history teachers; this reminded me of when Jonathan took us on a tour of the records kept at the Steel Mill for Colorado History. It really gives one a different perspective to see a building left by its former occupants. And lets be honest it’s cool to see a part of the site that few get to experience.

            This is an easy one to incorporate into the classroom, as our social studies team already does a mini Ellis Island simulation. It will be incredible to add all the documents that we got today. I especially like that we have some primary source readings. For students to read peoples accounts of what life was like here and what they experienced at Ellis Island will most certainly enrich the students learning. The photos of the ships will be an interesting addition as well. It is sometimes difficult for students to imagine the difficulty of the journey itself and how the immigrants dealt with it. If students can relate to this experience even in a small way, it will cement this in their learning.

            Today will be one of the most memorable here in New York. This tour was one of my favorites. In teaching when we talk about places it can become dry, but to have seen what it was really like will forever change how I discuss this with my students. I have not really looked at the jump drive that we were given, but that was really a useful tool for us as educators, having access to that type of item will make it more accessible in the classroom. I do not have to do any searching it is already done for me.

      

      On the third day of our walking adventure with Ed O’Donnell we saw yet another side of New York. When thinking about the various neighborhoods that were seen today, it was interesting to think what life was like. When we first went into some of the neighborhoods and discussed what were they originally, even back into colonial times the term ethnic layering was used by our guide as he described some of these early neighborhoods. During the early eighteen hundreds the neighborhoods dividing the Lower East Side were mostly made up of Irish and German immigrants. As we continued to walk the streets it was difficult searching out the remnants of these early groups with the exception of some street names little evidence could be found. As they later became Jewish and Italian immigrant neighborhoods there were more references to their former occupants in those neighborhoods. But in looking at all of the Lower East Side today one would be hard pressed to find a enclave of anything other then Asian immigrants. As our guide explained by this time it had become Little China so naturally that culture would leave their mark on the neighborhoods.

            In a classroom setting when explaining the change over in neighborhoods from one ethnic group to another it would be interesting to look at the statistics involved. If possible looking at past census reports and trying to evaluate what the average income was and how that related to the standard of living. It would then be interesting to look at those neighborhoods now and see what the statistics tell us about living conditions, cost of living and standard of living. This could tell a student a great deal about quality of life for the average immigrant. It would also tell the student where they were coming from. If they were interesting they could research why these groups of people came out here in the first place. When looking at this type of activity it would be interesting to see how neighborhoods in Pueblo were formed and what groups of immigrants lived in them and under what conditions. Would it have been better to move out west where it was less crowded or to stay in the east where there were more opportunities?

            Although these walking tours were exhausting they were so worth it, it was wonderful to walk along the same streets that the immigrants did. Even though the names of the businesses have changed and the people living there are from a different immigrant group, the crowded streets with all the sights and sounds were surely somewhat similar, with the exception of the smell of horse thrown in. This was definitely the way to really see New York.