Western History Association Conference (October 2012)

The Western History Association’s annual conference was held this year in Denver, CO, on October 4-7. Because of this, the WHA and TPS  @ Metro State partnered up for a unique and novel series of panel discussions. We also used this opportunity to meet with our grant recipients from across the Western Region on Friday, October 5. Later that night, we held a wonderful dinner and the recipients shared their experiences and accomplishments.

This year, we set up a booth in the conference hall, where we provided a large number of printed primary sources, technology examples, and promotional materials that the conference attendees perused through. There we met fascinating people who stopped by and shared stories of their struggles and successes in the field of history, education, and teaching.  They showed us that what we do at TPS @ Metro State is continuously appreciated and effective for educators.

One of the most successful aspects of the conference for us was our coordination of  four conference panels between historians and TPS @ Metro State staff. TPS always strives to create a unique and stimulating presentation, and the WHA conference was no exception. Instead of relying on the standard model format of conference presentations, where speakers present their topic by reading their papers or giving a Powerpoint presentation, we decided that it would be more effective to not only have the historians present their topics, but to partner with a TPS @ Metro State staff member to create an in-class example of their material.

The first session Friday morning featured presentations from historians Matt Makley, from Metropolitan State University of Denver,  and Craig Kinnear, from the University of Notre Dame. Matt’s presentation, titled “Place as Primary Source,”  focused on the unique power of taking students to physical locations, which themselves are primary sources. Matt shared his experiences with taking students to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and how he was able to demonstrate for his students the vast history of the place, going all the way back to prehistoric times.

Todd Wolfe from TPS @ Metro State then followed Matt’s presentation with a quick example of how to incorporate some of the ideas Matt spoke about into a lesson plan. Luckily, being on the same campus, they were able to work directly with each other on both aspects of the presentation.

Together, they came up with the idea of using “rephotography.” Rephotography is simply printing out a picture of a unique physical space or monument from a past time period and then visiting that exact same spot, holding up the printed picture to line up with the actual location and taking a picture of it. Here’s a link to a few examples. This, of course, applies directly to Matt’s presentation: “Place as Primary Source.” This activity allows students to research places in their hometown, someplace they can easily visit, find primary source pictures, and tie the two together into the present day. It’s a nice and simple exercise that has a lot of potential. Attendees at the panel discussion loved it!

The second presentation was Craig Kinnear, who told the story of the creation of the American folk hero, Paul Bunyon for the Red River lumber company and how he morphed into a popular culture icon. Todd then presented on the idea of incorporating narratives and technology such as Google Sites into a class project. Click here to view the example. In this example, Todd took a primary source of a young Jewish girl found at the Library of Congress, and turned it into a narrative of her life’s story. In the primary source she and her friend are protesting child labor at the 1909 of Labor Day Parade in New York City. Todd then created journal entries, narrating certain events in her life, as well as a calendar she “kept.” You’ll notice when you click on the calendar link, the calender opens up to 1909. This is historically accurate to the day! This could allow for some great teaching moments! If you’d like to know how this was accomplished, email Todd at twolfe8@msudenver.edu .

We also felt it apropos to focus on Common Core Standards. So each in-class example we presented on had a specific standard attached to it. In the case of Matt Makley’s presentation it was:

WHST 11-12.8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each
source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on
any one source and following a standard format for citation.

For Craig Kinnear’s it was:

W 11-12.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured
event sequences.

The people who attended the panel discussions found these to be helpful and informative as Common Core Standards are gaining in popularity and importance throughout the country. TPS is working to incorporate these standards, and they are becoming more and more ingrained in our work. Be sure to checkout the announcement from the Library of Congress regarding the implementation of Common Core Standards.

Please be sure to checkout our Google Site with all the information from all the panels TPS was a part of, with links to presentation materials, as well as technology examples.

It really was a unique opportunity for everyone at TPS @ Metro State and the individuals we partnered with. We ended the conference rejuvenated in spirit and replenished with ideas for the future. So please keep checking back with us — we have some fun and informative things to share coming up very shortly!


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