HSP has just launched a whole new lesson plan section and a virtual lecture series on its website, by-products of the 2015 Cultures of Independence teacher workshop. Funded primarily by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the workshop’s foundational philosophy was that study of local landmarks provides entrée into national historical and cultural movements.
We hope these new materials will inspire you to try your hand at using landmarks as a way of structuring lessons in your classroom. (In fact, we now have a new tool on all of our lesson plans where you can tell us how it worked in your classroom and offer suggestions for other teachers on how to improve their effectiveness. Look in the bottom right corner of the page.)
The teachers who participated in the workshop were required to create new lessons for their curriculum focused around landmarks in their region. These lessons needed to include primary source study, consideration of change over time, and relationship to national historical movements, especially national founding principles.
Thirty-six of these Landmark Lessons are now available in the Educational Resources section of our website. You can search by topic, state, subject, grade level, keyword, or type of landmark (e.g. building, landscape, monument, etc.). Even if you don’t live near a specified landmark, the lesson may lead you to think of ways to approach landmarks in your region.
To provide you with some of the background the workshop participants received as they used Independence Hall as a model of teaching with a landmark, we also have put up eight videos of lectures from the workshop. Here’s your chance to learn from Dr. Charlene Mires about the history of the Hall, hear Dr. Gary Nash discuss the history of the Liberty Bell, or to consider how civil rights protests played out in the North among other topics.