Sharing Ideas about Colonial American History

On Friday, May 16, 2014, Fort Ticonderoga hosts its Sixth Annual Colonial America Conference for Educators. This day-long conference takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. While intended for educators, the conference is open to anyone with an interest in helping connect students with history.

Our conference focuses on the period 1609-1783 and features presentations by classroom teachers, museum educators, and archivists. It has been gratifying to watch this conference evolve and grow since its inception in 2009. The number of classroom teachers presenting has grown each year. It’s exciting to have enthusiastic teachers share their classroom successes with fellow educators.

This year’s presentations include:

  • Historians in the Classroom: Creating Authentic Learning Experiences with Document Sets. This session will demonstrate how to create authentic learning experiences for students by grouping multiple primary sources into document sets. The document set format consists of an essential question, historical documents related to the essential question, and an assessment of student learning. This workshop will walk participants through a series of document sets that explore the causes, effects, and significant events of the American Revolution. Participants will be given the opportunity to create their own document sets, essential questions and assessments. Copies of document sets will be given to all attendees. Julie Daniels is the coordinator of educational programs at the NYS Archives; Jessica Maul is an education consultant at the NYS Archives Partnership Trust.
  • Colonial Tea Party. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to go back in time to ask King George III how he felt when the colonists refused to pay his taxes, or ask John Burgoyne how he could have made his famous plan work? Your students will have the chance to do just that in the Colonial Tea Party. In this workshop, two team teachers (one English and one Social Studies) will walk attendees through the process of preparing students to conduct research on colonial figures, historical events that took place between 1763 and 1783, and the time period in general. Students will be engaged in reading leveled historical novels from the revolutionary war period to examine the factors leading up to the war itself from numerous perspectives. Then, students will select a historical figure that they will portray in the tea party. Leading up to the tea party, students will conduct research and complete several activities, including a character sketch, a colonial figure poster and poem, several historical journal entries, and a culminating letter of reflection after the tea party. So get ready to go back in time and help your students understand the dynamics of this tumultuous time period. Seth Harris teaches 7th grade social studies and Erin Mailloux teaches 7th grade English at Shaker Junior High School in Colonie, New York.
  • Early Colonial New York through Documents and Physical Resources: New France, New Amsterdam, and the Iroquois Confederacy. This session focuses on the early colonial relationship between the French, Dutch, and Iroquois as witnessed through primary sources. Special attention will be given to the use of documents and physical resources that are relevant to classroom instruction. Tom Henry is a retired teacher from the Liverpool School District. He is a former president of the Central New York Council for the Social Studies and New York State Social Studies Teacher of the Year. He currently teaches history in the Syracuse chapter of the Oasis program. Bill Perks is currently a social studies teacher in the Marathon School District. He is formerly the Director of Historical Interpretation at the St. Marie Among the Iroquois Living History Museum.
  • The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania. This presentation will give an overview of the major military events that occurred within Pennsylvania primarily from 1754 to 1758. The start of the war, Braddock’s Campaign, and the Forbes Campaign will be the major focal points. David P. Miller has been employed with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission since 1998 and served as the Director of Education at Bushy Run Battlefield for 11 years.
  • The American Revolution through British Eyes. This session is about the often ignored lives of British soldiers in North America and their stories. Using Don Hagist’s non-fiction book, British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, participants will analyze up to nine biographies with primary source case studies to learn what life was like as a British soldier. Attendees will receive traditional and common core lesson plan strategies and formats to adapt to their classroom. Tim Potts has taught middle level Social Studies for 24 years at the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School in Monticello, New York. He is the immediate Past President of the New York State Council for Social Studies and was elected in 2012 to the steering committee of the National Council for Social Studies. Tim has presented at numerous local, state, and national conferences on innovative ways to teach Social Studies.
  • “Large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny”: A Review of German “Hessians” who Served in the American War for Independence. This program will address the generalities of German “Hessian mercenaries” who served during the American War for Independence. Focus will be made on their nation states of origin, organization, reasons for being involved in the war, and their feelings concerning it. Centuries-old stereotyping will be addressed. Primary focus will be on those Germans who served in the Northern Campaign of 1777. Eric Schnitzer has been the park ranger/historian at Saratoga National Historical Park for 18 years; among his areas of study are the people—officers, men, and followers—who served in the Northern Campaign of 1777.

The Sixth Annual Colonial America Conference for Educators takes place on the Friday of War College weekend. The registration fee for participants is $40. For those also taking part in the War College of the Seven Years’ War (May 16-18, 2014), the cost of attending the conference is $35. You can download a flyer and registration form from our website.

Please share this information with educators you know—and even if you are not an educator, you are welcome to join us for this day of sharing ideas and digging deeper into our colonial history.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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