Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Visit to Lincoln's Cottage

On Saturday, February 28, eight STAMPS participants met Ms. Jen, Ms. Bethany and Ms. Trenkle at the Lincoln Cottage for a tour of the recently opened house and the "Debating Emancipation" program. For the "Debating Emancipation" program, students traveled back in time to 1862 and took on the role of Lincoln's Cabinet (aka the Team of Rivals). Students were tasked with advising Lincoln about Emancipation.. Some of the cabinet members portrayed included: Montgomery Blair, Salmon Chase, Edwin Stanton, William Seward, and Edward Bates.

Once the program was over, students explored the museum gallery and then went outside for a group photo in front of the Lincoln statue. The statue of Lincoln is in his likeness--it is exactly the same height as the president himself was, even down to the measurements of his top hat! He is posed with his horse, Old Buck.

This experience was in preparation for our Lincoln spring break trip (leaving three weeks from today!).

Welcome back Francesca! We missed you!

Friday, February 27, 2009

STAMPS Presents at SHMS' Black History Program

On Thursday, February 26, STAMPS members presented at the school's annual Black History program. STAMPS students shared about National Park Service sites in the United States that commemorate 20th century African-American heroes and sheroes. NPS sites discussed included: MLK NHS in Atlanta, Mary McLeod Bethune NHS in DC, LBJ NHS in Texas, Carter G. Woodson's House in DC, President's Park, and more! Each participant read about their particular slide.

NHD DC Tshirt Design Underway

On Thursday, February 26, select 8th grade students met with DC History Day coordinator, Missy McNatt, to learn about their options and limitations for designing the DC NHD tshirt for 2009. This is an exciting opportunity for our 8th graders--the tshirt will be given away at the citywide competition in April. Students will have the tshirt designed by next week. Stay tuned to see what the final product will look like!

Monday, February 23, 2009

History Day Site Visits

So, this year, 8th grade students had to visit a History Day site related to their History Day topic. Their photo and bibliography annotations were due on Friday. And all I can say is "WOW!" I am so impressed with where they have gone and what they have found. I will post individual write ups and pictures as I get them, but I wanted to share some of their topics and where they prepared to be amazed!

(PS the theme this year is "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies.")

  • LauraJean's topic is Joseph Smith and she went to the Morman Temple Visitor Center in Kensington, MD. She writes, "My historical sight was the visitor center for Latter Day Saints. This sight is a historical site because this a result of the work of Joseph Smith. This site helped me because it clarified the story of Joseph Smith's life and what he did to make history. It gave me information on the horrible things that happened to him while he was preaching the gospel to others. This site helped me a lot. I also took a picture by the Temple but was not able to enter."
  • Malik H. went to Arlington Cemetery to visit Joe Louis' grave (his topic is Joe Louis).
  • Aaron went to the Women in the Arts to view a self-portrait of Friedah Kahlo who was holding a letter to Leon Trotsky. His topic is Leon Trotsky.
  • Liz met with a professor from George Washington University's American Studies Department to discuss Jim Jones.
  • Katie met with a professor from George Washington University's Political Science Department to discuss Machiavelli.
  • Kelsea went to the Newseum to learn about Nellie Bly, the female investigative reporter of the 1800s. (Nellie Bly is featured in their 4-D movie.)
  • Briana, Johvonna, and Tyquia have an appointment to meet with a curator at the National Air and Space Museum to discuss Dr. Mae Jamison.
  • Eric went to the LBJ Memorial on the GW Parkway to learn about his presidential topic.
  • Shanice and Carleshia visited the FDR Memorial and took a picture with Eleanor Roosevelt, their History Day topic.
  • Jason went to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to visit a site about the Temptations. He writes, "This is helpful because the Temptations performed there and will be performing in June 2009. My friend James and I travelled there one day after school to visit it."
  • James met with a professor from George Washington University's History Department to discuss Napolean.
  • Breana went to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium where there was a riot when Governor George Wallace came to speak. (Her topic is George Wallace.)
  • Linstrum went to the National Portrait Gallery and found his History Day topic's portrait: Jim Brown.
  • Devin J. went to the National Portait Gallery and found Paul L. Dunbar's portrait.
  • Mikayla went to the National Portrait Gallery and found Juliet Gordon Low's portrait.
  • Rachel went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum to view Andy Warhol's art.
  • Lawrence visited the World War II Memorial to learn more about his topic: Dorie Miller.
  • Sertira, Lynnette and Jereese went to Baltimore to see Edgar Allen Poe's gravesite and his home.
  • Shalynn went to the Blacks and Wax Museum in Baltimore to see her figure, Daisy Bates.
  • Gary and his parents went to Johnstown National Historical Park in Johnstown, PA to learn about the flood and the role Clara Barton played in that tragedy.
There are lots more! But isn't it great to see the kids around town, finding history in their own backyard! Great job guys!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

STAMPS: Volunteering on President's Day!

Congratulations to the eight 8th graders who came out to the White House Visitor Center on Monday, February 16--President's Day...and their day off! These devoted members of STAMPS helped to run "stations" about life in the White House. Some of their activities included making beeswax candles, reinventing the White House china (and learning about dinner parties and etiquette from Dolley Madison herself!), writing questions to Abraham Lincoln, playing a presidential version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and giving White House Visitor Center/President's Day tattoos to visitors.

At the end of their three hours, students stood in front of the camera and delivered a famous presidential speech.

They also heard from President Lincoln. James' question was even answered: "What do you value more, your beard or your hat?" Lincoln's answer? He said he supposed he values his hat more because you can give your horse a drink of water from your tall hat and without a watered horse you couldn't get anywhere!

Way to go volunteers!

Sertira, Kelsea and Katie pose with President's Lincoln and Ford.
Did you know that Gerald Ford was a National Park Ranger before he became president?

Our Partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

On Tuesday, February 17, 8th graders traveled to the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of our partnership with them. The purpose of the program is to integrate art into the History and English curricula. In the fall, Ms. Allen and Ms. Trenkle went to the American Art Museum to pick out art works that a) appealed to them, b) fit in with the upcoming curriculum or c) had been discussed in class.

Ms. Allen chose the following artworks:

The Dog Swap
The Fishmonger
The Dying Tecumseh
Interior with Portraits

Ms. Trenkle chose these artworks:

Westward Course the Empire Takes Its Way (pictured below with the Dying Tecumseh in the background)
A bust of Lincoln
The Adams Memorial
The Lord Is My Shepherd

In January, in preparation for the visit, students spent both their English and History class periods previewing the respective works of art and making inferences about them. Due to poor weather, our field trip in January was postponed until February....we were all ready to go!

Students rotated by homeroom to one of four activities:

1) A docent led tour of the 8 respective art pieces to learn what they are really about (and see if the inferences we made about them were correct!),
2) A scavenger hunt in the Luce Center (pictured below),

3) An observation and interpretation activity on the 3rd floor "modern art" gallery (pictured below),
4) Lunch.

Students took notes, asked questions, and explored, in preparation for their upcoming assignments.

Students have now been tasked with writing two creative writing pieces for submission to an anthology of writings about these poems. The finished books will be given to students (and their parents) at an evening reception in May at the museum. Stay tuned for a blog entry in May about this grade finale!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Visit to the Recently Opened National Museum of American History

Teresa stands next to a collection of hair clippings from each of the first 14 presidents. Her president's hair clipping is among those seen here.

On Thursday, February 12, 8th graders spent the day at the recently re-opened National Museum of American History. They had class in the museum, rotating between four different exhibits (one for each of their core classes). For History they visited "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden," to compliment and conclude their unit on the United States Presidents and Presidency. Their assignment was two fold: 1) Find an object from your President (assigned at the beginning of the unit) and 2) Using a worksheet provided, critique the exhibit as if you were writing for a DC tourism agency.

by Gary

My president is John F. Kennedy. The object I chose was a drum. I chose the drum because I like playing drums. Also it was the only thing that captivated my attention and related to my president. The reason this drum relates to my president JFK is because it was one of the original drums played at his funeral. This tells me that he was assassinated. Another interesting fact I learned is that JFK was a Roman Catholic.

by Terrisha

The president I was assigned was our 43rd president, George W. Bush. I had a hard time finding an object on my president at first. Then when I came to an interesting exhibit I found it. The object I found was a Jack-in-the-box. When you wind it up Bush's upper body behind a podium pops up. I believe he is giving a speech. It shows Bush as president. I found this in the movie gallery. There were objects, political cartoons, and a clip about actors portraying a president.

The exhibit was named "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden." A thing I found interesting was the first exhibit and the way it displays, identifies, and describes the hats of the president. The exhibit explained the presidency: the hardships, and the good things about the job. They explained this in objects, pictures, and small movie clips. One thinkg I learned in this exhibit was that James Buchanan's inaugural address was the first one photographed. Another fact I learned was that Millard Fillmore had the first kitchen installed in the White House.

by Breana

James Monroe was orh in 1758 and died July 4, 1831. He served one term as governor of VA and then was sent to France by Thomas Jefferson to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. In 1811 he was appointed Secretary of State under President James Madison and in 1816 Monroe won the presidential election. James was the 5th president of the United States for two terms. 1816-1825 and is mose well know for the Monroe Doctrine. If you don't know what the Monroe Doctrine did, it stated that European powers were no longer allowed to colonize in the Americas.

During the exhibit I saw some interesting objects about James Monroe and other presidents. James had a dessert place with an eagle on it. In my opinion he had bad taste in platters. It also told me that he liked sweets and was a normal guy by eating what the average American eats. I chose this plate because it stood out the most to me. Another object that stood out tome was the master key. I know I could have picked an object that wasn't in the average household but I felt like once the president got this key it was official that he lived in the White House. I felt this way because if you have the master key that means you have access to any room whenever you want.

by Aaron

My assigned president was Calvin Coolidge, who presided over the country from 1923 until 1929. The object from the American History Museum's presidential exhibit that I chose to take a picture with was the formal dress worn by Coolidge's wife, and First Lady, Grace. I think this dress represents luxurious life in the booming 1920s, when the nation's economy was thriving. That time, however, eventually led to the Great Depression. I think the most interesting part of the exhibit was the array of personal artifacts, such as Teddy Roosevelt's riding chaps adn travel desk.

Tiesha stands next to Harry S. Truman's vacation shirt.

Our Critiques of the Exhibit

by Liz

Welcome to DC! While you're here, I'm sure you'd like to take a visit to the Smithsonian museums! At the National Museum of American History Museum, there is an exhibit called The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, which is amazingly informative and interesting. It shows you the various "hats" that a president must wear: Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, National Leader, and many others. There are explanations and examples for each figurative "hat." A Glorious Burden shows you the personal life of the presidents, with artifacts of first kids such as dollhouses, ballet slippers, and baseballs. They also show you the professional side of life, with videos of famous speeches and campaign buttons. There are objects that related to every president in history--with the exception of our most recent one. The exhibit engages those who know everything about the presidents, and those who know none. It has a video where you can see yourself on the screen as though you're giving the Inaugural Address, and you have a teleprompter to guide you through famous speeches. The only downside is the small font size on some of the labels. Overall, the exhibit demonstrates very accurately the glorious burden of the presidency: the joy of election, the happiness of a country's love, but also the sadness of being protested, the physical danger, and the mental stress.

The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden
by Kelsea

Located in The National Museum of American History is “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” exhibit. This exhibit focuses on the tasks and lives of the United States’ Presidents. Whoever planned this part of the museum did a wonderful job of ensuring that the exhibition matched the title. One label read, “There have been 11 attempts to kill a president”. A death threat is certainly a burden. The glorious parts of a president’s life are illustrated through pictures of various presidents with their kids and family and through quotes some presidents said.

Presidents have many roles or “hats.” This gallery did an excellent job of discussing them. The wall of the gallery’s middle room was lined with glass cases, each titled with one of the hats, i.e. “National Leader, Chief executive.” Each respective case explained and gave examples of the roles/hats. One of them said, “This is an engraving of President Lincoln’s cabinet.” There was also a movie thoroughly explaining each role of a president.

If you enter one of the rooms in this exhibition, you’ll see “Bill Clinton’s saxophone”, or a “Wooden bowling pin used during Harry Truman’s term”, or “Chelsea Clinton’s point shoes”. You can’t dive much deeper into our presidents’ personal lives than showing actual items from their personal lives. That’s yet another good quality this exhibition possesses.

Every presidency has a story. And, stories are always better when there are primary sources involved. With that said, this gallery does a great job of telling the story of the presidency. Many old objects from campaign trials are on display. There’s even an old telegraph machine and toys the first children used. (The telegraph machine was Chester Alan Arthur’s.)

Is this exhibit engaging? As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!” A perfect example is the “You be The President Interactive Speech”. Here, visitors can read clips of presidential speeches from a teleprompter while watching themselves on camera. This is a creative and fun way to allow visitors to interact.

Organization is key to any museum exhibit, gallery, and/or display. The National Museum of American History has seemed to grasp that concept. The “hats” are in one section, campaign souvenirs in another. There is a room dedicated to personal life and a gallery dedicatd to Lincoln. NMAH has organization and accessibility down to a science.

Despite all the positive aspects of “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”, I would suggest you not come here if you aren’t familiar with the presidency. Personally, I feel that unless you have a good understanding of the American presidency and the history of American presidents, it would be hard for you to enjoy this exhibit. Most of the objects are primary sources such as a folder for “blank telegraph forms” and old political cartoons and exerts from speeches. But, this gallery fails to give you a background on these items/things. For example, for “You Be The President” there is no explanation as to why these presidents gave these speeches. There’s no background on what was happening in the country at that time. This is probably my only compliant about the exhibit.

Overall, I recommend a trip to this museum and specifically this gallery, “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.” You’ll enjoy yourself and be glad you came.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Unit on the Presidents and Presidency

by Chantell

I learned that there are different types of hats, for example, National Leader, Chief Executive, and others. I learned Franklin Delano Roosevelt always hid his illnesses, so he was made a special wheelchair. He was the only president elected four times. He created the United Nations for countries to discuss their problems. I also learned that John Tyler was the vice-president of William Harrison and when he died, Tyler became president.

by Tyquia

I learned that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president. He was commander-in-chief during the Civil War. During his presidency, many acts were being proposed involving slavery. My president left a legacy, although he was assassinated during his last term, while he was at Ford's Theater. He will always be known for his large top hat.

by Taylour

What I have learned about my president (Thomas Jefferson) is he believe in equal rights. He bough the largest real estate deal at that time, doubling the size of the United States. He sent out famous explorers, Lewis and Clark, to explore the west and kept George Washington's two term tradition going.

by Dyani

Over the last couple of weeks I have learned some things about Zachary Taylor. I learned that he was even a president and that he fouhgt in wars. Before he was assigned to be "my" president, I didn't even know who he was. He died one year into his presidency. He didn't even want to be president, he wanted to fight in wars. He was the 12th president.

by Tatiana

In the presidency, there are many different "hats" of a president. National Leader is a hat that calms our country down when attacked or at risk. Another is Party Leader, in which they stand up for their political party. When in a war, presidents take control of the armies and become Command-in-Chief. Every president, when inaugurated become Ceremonial Leaders. This hat is "worn" at any celebration the president goes to.

by Kelsea

I learned that my president was a great National leader. My president was Ronald Reagan. When air traffic controllers went on strike, he was quick to fire them and replace them. After being shot outside of a hotel, Reagan refused to act weak and afraid. He joked around with the hospital staff. Also, when the "Challenger" exploded, President Reagan comforted the country. However, he also told us to keep moving. This shows that Mr. Ronald Reagan, our 40th president, wore the hat of National leader well. Other facts I learned about Reagan:
1. was an actor
2. was governor of California
3. served 2 presidential terms
4. owned a ranch in California

by Niiya

I learned a lot about the presidents. For exmaple, when George Washington was president, there wasn't a certain number of years where he could be president. He resigned from being president, he gave a speech called the "Farewell Address." In his speech he said that the nation shoudl remain to itself and not make friends with other countries or get involved in other countries' problems. When FDR was president, he served four terms of the presidency until he died in office of polio. After he died, there was a rule that said you can only serve two terms as president. Franklin Pierce didn't take the presidential oath on the Bible for religious reasons.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lessons from the Tuskegee Airmen

by Shanice

The lesson that we can learn from Lt. William Broadwater and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen is how to become an inspirational citizen. To have self-discipline. To be kind and thoughtful towards others. Have self-respect and respect to everyone else. Another lesson we can learn is how to never accept "no" as an answer. Whatever you put your mind to stick to it, we can learn how to make it in life becoming successful from what you are passionate about. No matter where you have been or where you've come from you can make others proud of you. You can make a change, break any barrier you feel is unfair and have others look up to you.

(Here is Shanice with Lt. Broadwater's Congressional Gold Medal!)

by Shalynn

The lessons I learned from the tuskegee Airmen is that they had a hard time in being the pioneers that they are. That taught me to try harder in the things that I desire to be. Another lesson I learned from Lt. Broadwater is that if you desire to be something no matter what obstacles you may run into you have to overcome it just as they did. I learned that the Tuskegee Airmen work as a team and helped each other along the way.

by Jeffrey

I believe that you can learn a lot of lesson from the Tuskegee Airmen--for instance, lessons in courage. The Tuskegee Airmen were very brave--they had dreams to become pilots and to achieve these dreams they had to overcome a lot adversities. The Tuskegee Airmen have done so many things they could teach us how it feels to go through so much for trying to save their country. I can learn how to be a better person. We, as the next generation, can learn how it feels to be outcast because of the color of your skin. They can teach us to be strong, to fight through adversity to acheive what you believe in.

by Raina

A lesson I've learned is that no matter what time period, nor racial background you come from, anything is possible if you stick to it and give it your all. I think the Tuskegee Airmen were very heroic. They've lost a lot of friends in the making, but they held their heads higha nd stuck it out to the end. These men showed great precedence towards becoming America's first African-American military-based airmen. Now, many men/women aircraft fliers ahve idols to look up to.

I've also learned that your needs come before your wants. Mr. Jones did not want to attend McKinley Technology High School but his guardian felt it was the best idea.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Campaign Buttons

As part of our lesson on the Presidency we explored different Presidential Campaign slogans over time. We first thought about what they might mean, then we learned about what was going on in that time period and revised our thoughts. Finally, we had a class discussion about what the slogan was really trying to say. Some of our campaign slogans that we looked at were:

"Keep Cool with Coolidge" (Calvin Coolidge, 1924)
"A Chicken In Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage" (Herbert Hoover, 1928)
"All the Way with LBJ" (Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964)
"Not Just Peanuts" (Jimmy Carter, 1976)
"America Needs a Change" (Walter Mondale, 1984)
"Yes, We Can!" (Barack Obama, 2008)

After we discussed what makes an effective campaign slogan, students were charged with creating their own campaign slogan as if they were running for president in 2009. Once they came up with a slogan, they designed their own campaign button. Students volunteered to stay after school to make buttons from the completed student homework.