Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute and More

Wow! What a great month of July we’ve had at Fort Ticonderoga, especially when it comes to the Fort’s efforts in teacher education.

Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute participants pose atop Mount Defiance at the beginning of their week at Fort Ticonderoga.

 Fourteen teachers from as far away as California and Florida participated in our first Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute July 7-12. These teachers brought energy and enthusiasm as they spent a week with visiting scholar James Kirby Martin learning about the career of Benedict Arnold. “I never thought I’d see the day when an institution would devote a whole week to Benedict Arnold” commented Martin at the end of the week. The teachers left Ticonderoga at the end of the week with a new appreciation for history and the fact that history is not black and white—there’s a lot of gray.

We spent a week discussing Arnold’s career, utilizing the vast array of manuscripts, artifacts, and artworks in the Fort’s collection to examine elements of Arnold’s career at Ticonderoga and elsewhere. Teachers used an actual muster roll from 1775 and a Benedict Arnold letter from the same time period to practice analyzing documents and learning about engaging ways to connect their students with the real stuff of history.

Teacher Institute participants rowing the Fort’s bateau.

Three immersive experiences with the Fort’s interpretation staff provided teachers with unique opportunity to learn, and experience, aspects of life at Ticonderoga during the American Revolution. Whether pulling on an oar in the Fort’s bateau, erecting a brush shelter common in the Continental camps at Ticonderoga, or preparing a modest meal at the field kitchen, teachers gained an understanding about life in the Continental Army that can’t be duplicated in a book.

In addition to James Kirby Martin, author James L. Nelson focused on the Battle of Valcour and Arnold’s role in creating and maintaining American naval superiority on Lake Champlain through 1775 and much of 1776. During a field trip to Saratoga National Historical Park, Park

 Ranger and Historian Eric Schnitzer gave a presentation on 18th-century portraits of Benedict Arnold and then spent an afternoon out on the Saratoga Battlefield with the teachers focused on this turning point in the American Revolution.

Thanks to a new collaboration with the College of St. Joseph in Vermont, five of the teachers earned graduate credit through their participation in the Institute.

This is the type of well-rounded educational programming for teachers that marks Fort Ticonderoga’s approach to teaching teachers. And there’s more to come!

We’ve just learned that our application to the National Endowment for the Humanities to host two week-long Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers in July 2014 has been successful. Eighty teachers will be able to spend a week at Fort Ticonderoga learning about “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga.” Visiting scholars for these workshops include:

• Carol Berkin, City University of New York
• Tom Chambers, Niagara University
• Douglas Egerton, LeMoyne College
• William Fowler, Northeastern University
• James Kirby Martin, University of Houston
• Holly Mayer, Duquesne University
• John Parmenter, Cornell University
• Judith Van Buskirk, State University of New York at Cortland

Teacher Institute participants posing at the Arnold Monument at Saratoga National Historical Park.

Participants will attend workshop sessions with these visiting scholars, discussing a number of topics that include: the French & Indian War as a precursor to the Revolution; the roles of African-Americans, Native Americans, Loyalists, and women in the Revolution; Benedict Arnold and the Battle of Valcour; the Saratoga Campaign; and the lasting legacies of the Revolutionary War on the Northern Frontier.

July 2014 promises to be a very busy month. We will be offering two sessions of the NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers in addition to a week-long Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute:

• NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers—“The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga” July 6-11, 2014 (Session One) and July 27-August 1, 2014 (Session Two)

• Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute: “1776 on the Northern Frontier” July 13-18, 2014

Both programs are open by application only. There are 40 slots for teachers in each of the NEH Landmarks workshops and 16 slots for teachers in the Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute. Application information will be posted on our website later in the fall. I look forward to your help in spreading the word about these unique opportunities for teachers coming in July 2014!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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