Education Blog Posts

A Day in the Life Trailer

Education Blog Posts

Presenting the Past


History educators face many obstacles when presenting the past in the digital world. The two main issues that historical educators encounter today are the validity of sources and the number of sources available on the internet. Both issues affect the other. It can be difficult to find credible and reliable sources due to the number of sources available online.  Many history educators have difficulty finding reliable sources or receiving assignments from students that included unreliable sources. Teachers are now given the task of educating students on what makes a source reliable. According to Sam Wineburg, this includes researching and questioning the author, the context/ nature of the source, and the evidence provided within the source.[1] The internet has a vast collection of both primary and secondary sources. This can be incredibly dangerous for teachers attempting to present history through the digital world. Evaluating a source’s credibility can lead to the spread of false information. Today, we are polarized to the extreme. It is very easy for people to accept false information as the truth. People still believe that if something is on the internet that it must be true. I learned from these readings to also be wary of printed/published sources. It is more important now than ever that we are taking the time to evaluate the sources we see on the internet. “Reliable information is to civic intelligence what clean air and clean water are to public health.”[2] I can only imagine the amount of stress history educators endure while trying to teach history through the digital world.

As we learned in our last module, search engines can have their own personal agendas when suggesting information. This is also seen in some other information providers such as Wikipedia. Growing up, I was told to stay away from Wikipedia, never cite it, and to never trust any information that was posted. However, once I got to college, I was told that I was able to use it as a jumping off point and nothing else. Sites such as Wikipedia have grown to be controversial. Not only in the information provided on the website but also the authors who post research to the site. According to Sadie Bergin, “A Wikipedia user survey reports that the average “Wikipedian” on the English-language version of the site is male, formally educated, and from a majority Christian, developed country in the Northern Hemisphere.”[3] Not only are their publishers often located in one category, but their topics are also as well. It has also been discovered that Wikipedia has little history concerning Black history, Women’s history, Latino history, and African American history.[4] This lack of inclusion of other histories limits the full perspective of certain events and other historical figures. This ties in with another issue historians have with Wikipedia. Wikipedia and historians do not share the same definition of historical significance. Michelle Moravec said, “Wikipedia does a poor job of matching ‘historical significance’ and what historians think is significant.”[5] This is an issue because Wikipedia and historians have different standards and criteria to determine the significance of a topic, person, etc.  These different standards can lead to the spread of misinformation.

[1] Wineburg, Sam. “Why Historical Thinking is Not About History.” History News 71, no. 2. 2016, pg. 4

[2] Ibid

[3] Bergen, Sadie. “Linking In: How Historians are Fighting Wikipedia’s Biases.” Perspectives on History (blog). September 3, 2016.

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

Education Blog Posts

Fifth Piece of the Puzzle

My final project is about halfway done. I have all my research completed in terms of Lincoln and his life at the cottage. Once again, my final project topic is President Lincoln’s daily life at his summer cottage. Withing this topic, my focus is on helping students learn and understand how to write historical narratives. Students or museum visitors will use my educational tool to create their own historical narrative about their day at the cottage through the eyes of Lincoln. My intended audience for this project is 6th-12th graders. I believe that this is the age where students tend to drift away from history or become less interested in history. Therefore, I wanted to create an educational tool where students will become engaged in history and learn about historical figures that are relatable. Students tend to ignore the fact that all people discussed in history are actual human beings who endure the same emotions we do. So, with my project, I wanted to help students come to that realization and learn how to tell their stories.

I currently have a half skeleton of a project. I have created a majority of my Google Site, including sections and pages. I am almost completed with uploading my Day in the Life activity. I have been exploring the website recommended to me by Dr. Shrum which is called This website has been helpful in terms of figuring out which interactive formats and elements would work best within my project. My next steps are creating the instructions for how to write a historical narrative. I am struggling a little with the organization of this area on my website. I am unsure if I should write out clear instructions for this section of my project or if would be better to include another interactive element. Users are already completing an activity to understand historical narratives. I might consider writing steps for users to follow in relation to their selected activities and then have another page for general instructions and information about writing historical narratives. I have begun taking steps to figure out the best way to construct this aspect of my project but have not made significant progress to resolve this issue. I am hopeful that this week I will be productive within this aspect of my project.

Education Blog Posts

Final Project Update

For my final project, I have decided to focus my project on Mr. Abraham Lincoln. As an employee of Lincoln’s Summer Cottage, I wanted to create an online educational experience that projects the values of the cottage. The end goal for this project is to allow visitors to use this activity in-person or online at home. I wanted to make sure that those who are unable to visit the cottage in person have an opportunity to have an in-person-like experience. One of the main ideas presented at the cottage is Lincoln’s humanity. This is the central idea for my project, which is titled “A Day in the Life”. The primary activity on my google site will provide users the opportunity to select how they would like to spend their day at the cottage as President Lincoln would have. They will choose from a variety of these activities and construct their narrative of their day. These activities will include a wide range, from where would you like to have breakfast to will you travel back to the white house guarded or unguarded? At the end of the activity, users will have the opportunity to write what their day consisted of. This would provide practice for constructing narratives.  So far, I have selected and categorized all the activities that will be used for constructing the narratives. I have begun organizing my website and figuring out the best placement for all my information. Right now, I am working on the next two steps of my project. The first step is creating the quiz/activity selection. This includes placing the activities in the quiz format. For this, I have been using the site fyrefox. The second step is figuring out a way to provide feedback for the submitted narratives. I am trying to find a way where immediate feedback could be provided. An idea I had would be selecting a “narrative of the week” segment on the website. Each week a submitted narrative will be chosen to be displayed as the “narrative of the week”.

Something I learned from the interviews with former students was the importance of collaboration. Whether it’s for your project or listening to other people’s project ideas. This is incredibly useful when developing new projects. The more feedback/comments you receive and the more questions you ask, the easier it will be to narrow down your big idea. It is also very interesting to listen to other people’s project ideas. Sometimes listening to or discussing something completely different from your project can provide insight as to how your project might work better.

Education Blog Posts

Fourth Piece of the Puzzle

Education Blog Posts

Media – Consuming and Creating

Films are just one of the many ways that we can consume history. Although historical films can be a very dangerous endeavor depending on the director’s true intentions, they can be very useful in our understanding of history. I am currently working as a Museum Program Associate at President Lincoln’s Summer Cottage. We have two films included in our exhibits. These two films discuss Lincoln’s personal life and views. The purpose of the cottage is to think about why it was important to the Lincolns and the refuge it provided them. The movie Lincoln (which is discussed under Lincoln Film Review) would be a good film to play at the cottage. Although Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation at the cottage and not the 13th amendment, the film still accurately portrays the period Lincoln would have been going to the cottage. The film also illustrated briefly the grief endured by Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln after the death of their son Willie. The cottage was used as a place of sanctuary for them to mourn in private and escape the chaos of the White House. This film would provide an insight as to what the Lincolns were dealing with externally and why the cottage was needed as a place of respite.  I believe this film would be a great addition to the cottage’s education center.

Digital storytelling has the potential to be very useful in the classroom. I think that digital storytelling can be useful when discussing complex histories. I think it provides students with an opportunity to construct their own narrative and perception of history with the information given. One of the main goals that is at the heart of teaching history is historical thinking. By placing events in the context in which they occurred and understanding the societal norms, we can analyze how or why a person acted the way they did. Through digital storytelling, students will be able to learn research skills and develop historical empathy.

Education Blog Posts Reviews

Lincoln Film Review

Film Metadata

Title: Lincoln

Year: 2012

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Tony Kushner (screenplay), Doris Kearns Goodwin

Producer: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

How I accessed the film: Prime Video

Film sources: The main source used to create Kushner’s idea of Lincoln was Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. However, Kushner used a variety of primary and secondary sources. The main primary source used by Kushner was Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1859-1865. Some of his secondary sources included Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Schenk, and Amendment by Michael Vorenberg. A full list of all sources used by Kushner can be found here.

There are two main themes in the movie Lincoln. The first is the 13th amendment. The entire plot of the movie is centered around Lincoln in the final year of the Civil War. During this time, there is a large push for the passing of the 13th amendment. Not only is Lincoln trying to end the war, but he is also attempting to change society for the better. For the amendment to pass, Lincoln must gauge the public’s opinion on the matter. There is a scene in Lincoln that depicts this exact interaction. During Lincoln’s days in office, it was socially acceptable to take your issues directly to the president himself. Within the scene of the movie (14:00-19:04), Lincoln and Secretary Seward are greeted by a man and wife from Missouri with concerns about a toll booth. According to the man, the toll booth belonged to his grandfather, however, it is now being “illegally held” by General Schofield of the Union army. Secretary Seward then asks Mr. and Mrs. Jolly if they had heard about the proposed 13th amendment. The couple proceeds to explain that they are in favor of the amendment because it will end the war. However, if there was another way to end the war without abolishing slavery, they would prefer that instead. This scene emphasized the complexities around the creation of the 13th amendment. It accurately portrayed the mindset of those who wished the war would end.

The second theme of the film is the compromising of politicians for the greater good—the film dealt largely with politicians from completely opposite ends of the aisle working in congress together. The main divide within the house is those pro-slavery and that pro-abolition. Lincoln is attempting to get two very stubborn groups to work together to save the union. Lincoln was dealing with many complex issues at a single time. The main reason for the war beginning, according to Lincoln, was the issue of slavery. There is a scene within the film (1:39:00-1:46:48) where Lincoln finally loses his temper on his cabinet. After arguments pass back and forth over the table, Lincoln passionately declares that the amendment must pass to save the union. I have found a shorter clip of the scene from YouTube and have included it here.Lincoln Movie Scene

Most of this film is historically accurate, however, there are some inaccuracies. The most historically accurate depiction in the film is Lincoln himself. The prioritization of Lincoln’s accuracy left some other characters’ accuracy to fall to the waist side. According to Joshua Zeitz from The Atlantic wrote “the depiction of the president and his political challenges to be “masterful” but finds extensive fault with the one-dimensional portraits of nearly all the president’s men.”[1] Some other historical inaccuracies include the simplified role of African Americans in the abolition of slavery.[2] Another inaccuracy was pointed out by Princeton graduate Benjamin Schmidt. When discussing the language used in the film, Schmidt said, “There were many problems of that nature, from important but modern phrases such as ‘racial equality” to gritty non-period-styling cursing”[3] The movie does accurately portray Lincoln’s persona and the nature of wartime. It also did a good job of displaying the complexities of politics.

If I was given the choice, I would include this movie in a lesson plan concerning the Civil War and the 13th amendment. I believe an interesting way to use this film would be to create a portrayal of the debate that occurred over the 13th amendment. Before beginning the lesson, I will address the historical inaccuracies displayed in the film. Clarifying these inaccuracies will better prepare them for the lesson and their understanding of this event. Each student will be assigned a character (Lincoln, Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, etc.) and given copies of primary documents that are from their assigned character. Students will research their given character and prepare for a debate “on the floor house”. During their research, students will consider the questions:

  1. Why do I believe what I believe?
  2. What are my morals?
  3. How does my status in society affect my life?
  4. What do I have to lose or gain from this?
  5. What will my constituents think of me?

The goal of this lesson is to place students inside the minds of those who took part in the actual event. After the debate, students will then vote on whether to pass the 13th amendment. Students will then write a comparison essay of their debate, with that depicted in the film.

[1] Matthew Pinsker,  David Broadhurst on July 5. “Historians React to the ‘Lincoln’ Movie.” Emancipation Digital Classroom, 7 Feb. 2013, lincoln-movie/.

[2] ibid

[3] ibid