Educators Blog

Author: Beth A Twiss Houting

The next installment of the Emmy Award winning Philadelphia: The Great Experiment series will air on WPVI/6abc at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 4th. In Penn's Shadow tells the story of the early years of William Penn's Holy Experiment. A blend of reenactments, primary sources, and commentary by leading historians conveys this oft-taught topic in a fresh and compelling manner.

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In 1971, Congress resolved that each August 26 would be Women's Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment.  While not all schools are back in session yet, this day is the perfect time to think about whether your American history curriculum includes women and their contributions. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has several unit plans about women’s history you may use.

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Author: Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania offers helpful resources for National History Day (NHD), and of course, boasts many archival collections to support student research. However, for students and teachers particularly interested in local history, or who live far from HSP and want to find primary-source documents close to home, a small repository may be a good place to do research.

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Immigrants quite literally helped to build America. With Labor Day and the school year approaching, HSP unit plans present ways to learn about immigrate contributions as well as to consider their living conditions. 

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There are several documents that are integral to and synonymous with US history: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Emancipation Proclamation.  They can be found in every textbook, and students are often forced to memorize parts of them, but how often are students encouraged to think critically about these documents?

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When students learn history solely from a textbook, they tend to get an over-generalized picture of the period. My high school and middle-school textbooks gave me the impression that everyone in the North was anti-slavery during the Civil War, all male citizens were gung-ho to join the military during the WWII, and all African-Americans agreed with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights period.

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Immigration is often an interesting and personal topic for students, sparking conversations of “where did my family come from?” Many students are immigrants themselves. It is a topic that is both historical and modern, with immigration being a controversial and political issue today a well as having a rich and fascinating history in our country. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania education website has several unit plans about immigration.

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On March 1, 2014, the new Pennsylvania Core Standards for Reading and Writing in History and Social Studies took effect as a supplement to the existing PA Standards for history. Recently, each unit on HSP’s website has been updated to show to show the PA Core Standards the lesson fulfills.

Topics: Education
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Learning about the Underground Railroad can engage and fascinate students in a way few other topics can. Textbooks tend to focus mostly on Harriet Tubman and neglect to mention the countless other organizations and individuals that made the escape route possible. One of these other organizations was the Vigilant Committee, whose purpose was to support runaway slaves while they stayed in or passed through Philadelphia. This committee, an auxiliary of the larger Vigilant Association, operated from 1837 to 1852, at which time it dissolved and the new Vigilance Committee was formed.

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Author: Alicia Parks

If you are an elementary school teacher looking for new and interesting ways to teach math and language arts, consider using primary source documents relevant to your curriculum. The use of primary source documents will expand student’s critical thinking skills and foster a greater understanding of our nation’s history at a young age.

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