Teaching Practicum: Teaching and Learning U.S. Social History with HERB

AHA Session 169
Saturday, January 7, 2012: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Chicago Ballroom IX (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Ellen Noonan, American Social History Project, City University of New York, Graduate Center
The Future Is Here: Digital Methods in Research and Teaching in History

This practicum session will demonstrate HERB (http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu), a new free website of primary sources and teaching activities, and model teaching strategies using these materials. The materials focus on the experiences of working people and “ordinary” Americans.

Leah Yale Potter, American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning

Session Abstract

Historians and educators from the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning will demonstrate the new free website of primary sources and teaching activities, HERB, and model teaching strategies using materials from HERB. HERB includes over 1,000 primary and secondary documents, teaching strategies, focus questions, and other resources developed over our 20 years of professional development workshops for U.S. history, language arts, and art history teachers and scholars. The materials in HERB focus on the experiences of working people and “ordinary” Americans who have shaped and been shaped by political and economic transformations in U.S. history. They have been selected and designed for diverse learners, including K-12, community and four-year colleges, special education and English Language Learners (ESL/ELL). 

In the first part of the session, educators will introduce participants to the various features of HERB, including how to find materials and teaching activities. In the second part of the session, leaders will model teaching strategies from HERB. Participants will receive copies of all of the materials. In the model teaching session, we will project and hand out copies of the primary sources that we are analyzing, along with focus questions and worksheets designed to help low-level readers comprehend the documents. Our teaching strategies are scaffolded to move learners from understanding individual documents to applying their learning in order to answer larger historical questions. During the session, participants will collaborate with each other to analyze documents and to suggest ways to use them in their own teaching. We will close the session with a discussion of pedagogy and differentiation for different types and levels of learners. 

HERB represents the intersection of historical research and classroom practice that ASHP has worked towards since its founding by Herbert Gutman and Steven Brier in 1981. Many of the documents in HERB are featured in other ASHP media, including our textbooks Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s History and our award-winning 10-part documentary film series. Over time ASHP has developed a community of educators and historians who have attended our professional development seminars and use our materials and strategies in their own practice; now, through the power of the web, HERB allows us to expand our network beyond our geographical base in New York City.

If possible, we would like to present in a practicum/teaching session to allow us to have small group discussion and collaboration among educators who are the target audience for HERB. However, depending on the format of the technology fair described in the Call for Proposals, we would also like to be able to demonstrate HERB more informally to fair attendees who have a general interest in digital history and technology. In that case, we would present during the practicum/teaching session and include a poster and other materials listing where and when participants and their colleagues can visit us in the technology fair. 

NOTE: HERB is scheduled to go live at the beginning of March 2011, after the proposal deadline; URL may not work until then http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu.

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