Tag Archives: History

Sonia Nieto on iNation, A New Multimedia Project About Contemporary Immigration

iNation

Everyone has a story to tell, but unfortunately, not all stories see the light of day. This is true of current stories of immigration. Although in the United States we often wax poetic about our immigrant past, we routinely neglect our immigrant present. There are, of course, scores of contentious stories that make their way to the evening news. Most of these stories emphasize an “us vs. them” mentality, pitting citizens against undocumented residents. But the day-to-day lives of current immigrants, who share the same aspirations, struggles, hopes, and dreams as previous immigrants, are often missing. There is now a valuable educational resource to fill this void. It is called iNation.

A multimedia project that uses personal narratives to explore immigration in the making of the United States, iNation is the brainchild of Theo Rigby, Kate McLean, Rosell Ilano, and Christine Peng. Together, this creative team has designed an interactive storytelling project to find, capture, and share some of the many contemporary stories that explore current immigration and its relationship to our past. The project includes short documentary films about some of the fascinating characters who are the present-day history makers, from a caregiver from Fiji who lovingly takes care of a 95-year-old Japanese woman until her death, to a small-town Republican Georgia mayor who becomes an unlikely but fierce advocate of undocumented residents, including one of his neighbors, a teenage girl who is a top student in her school but unable to attend college because of the harsh anti-immigration laws in the state.

Rather than history writ large, this is history written from the standpoint of regular people.

iNation also includes an interactive online story hub where users can create their own immigration narratives, which then become available to other users. Rather than history writ large, this is history written from the standpoint of the regular people who make up our nation and have lessons about resilience, strength, and hope for all of us. In addition to the interactive story hub and short documentaries, there is an innovative educators’ guide, Immigrant Nation, for grades 9 through 12 that includes lessons, creative activities for students, pedagogical strategies for teachers, and resources to bring the story of immigration alive. Together, the iNation components provide unique perspectives and valuable resources for telling a more complete and up-to-date story of the richness that immigration brings to our society.

Visit the iNation web site.

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Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In her career, she has taught students from elementary school through doctoral studies and her research has focused on multicultural education, teacher education, and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She is the author of Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms.

History Matters, Part 3

To support cross-curricular strategy instruction and close reading for information, authors Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have expanded their Toolkit Texts series to include a library of short nonfiction for American history. These two resources—Colonial Times and The American Revolution and Constitution—are out now.

In the final "History Matters" blog post, Anne and Stephanie describe how one class investigated lesser-known people of the past.

Beyond the “Usual Suspects”: Investigating Unrecognized Revolutionaries

by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey

“Think as researchers, act as historians.” That’s what fifth graders experienced in Mariana McCormick’s history class at the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Not content to study the “usual suspects” of Revolutionary times, they created portraits, both visual and written, of individuals who played important but unrecognized roles in historical events.

Realizing that there are many people left out of typical history books, students delved into a scant and hard-to-find collection of primary and secondary sources on lesser well-known men, women, and children. Experiencing the same excitement and obstacles that practicing historians face, students researched and pieced together information from these unusual sources. Students then painted portraits and wrote lively biographies of their discoveries. Compiled into a class website, these serve as an original and engaging resource for a broader audience. (To view, go to http://unrecognizedrevolutionaries.blogspot.com.)

Over the course of the project, students reflected on their research process in an Inquiry Journal, keeping track of their learning and insights about “doing history”. This record illustrates that when kids are actively engaged in inquiry with a genuine purpose, their interest, motivation, and research skills soar!

Here are two of the biographies and portraits. Click the images to see full PDFs:

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We included several of these student projects in our latest resource, American Revolution and Constitution: Short Nonfiction for American History. These biographies serve as excellent examples of a student inquiry project in history, as well as valuable short historical texts of unrecognized revolutionaries for other students.

Read last week's History Matters, Part 2.

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Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have enjoyed a fifteen-year collaboration in education as authors and staff developers. They are coauthors of the Heinemann titles Comprehension Going Forward and Strategies That Work. They have also created a family of bestselling classroom materials under Heinemann’s firsthand imprint: The Comprehension ToolkitThe Primary Comprehension ToolkitToolkit TextsComprehension InterventionScaffolding for ELLs, and Connecting Comprehension and Technology. Their newest resource, Short Nonfiction for American History, is discussed in this blog post

History Matters, Part 2

To support cross-curricular strategy instruction and close reading for information, authors Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have expanded their Toolkit Texts series to include a library of short nonfiction for American history. The two resources—Colonial Times and The American Revolution and Constitution—are out now.

In several blog posts over the next few weeks, Anne and Stephanie share their perspectives and insights into historical literacy. Today's post focuses on annotation to encourage engagement.

History Matters

by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey

This week we continue sharing essential practices that encourage kids’ engagement and learning in history by using comprehension strategies to read closely and annotate the text.

Annotating: Thinking-Intensive Reading for Understanding

Close Reading is Strategic Reading

To comprehend texts in history, filled with complex ideas and unfamiliar information, readers need a quiver full of strategies to glean meaning. To us, close reading is thinking-intensive reading. Readers consider their background knowledge to make sense of new information and ask questions about what eludes them. They read closely to think inferentially about and analyze new content. They read for the gist, synthesizing the information in the text margins, either on paper or digitally. Readers annotate the text using these strategies as well as jotting down their reactions and responses. Comprehension and thinking strategies such as these are well-grounded in research conducted by P. David Pearson and many others. But one thing is clear: the more challenging the text and ideas, the more readers need to be strategic. That’s how they build their knowledge and understanding.

Annotating and analyzing across texts: Exploring different perspectives

History matters to all of us, but too often textbooks leave out many voices and perspectives. We encourage kids to consider the “untold stories”: the experiences, voices, and perspectives of people who are unrecognized as playing an important role in historical events. Learning about lesser-known individuals provides new insights into historical events and issues.

How can we help kids grasp what happened long ago and far away? Kids relish the opportunity to build historical understanding by reading a variety of texts from multiple sources and analyzing information from different perspectives.

In a fifth grade class studying colonial times, kids gathered around posters of historical fiction accounts and “journals” of children who lived in and around Jamestown. They read about young English colonists and servants, children who were enslaved, and Native American kids, including Pocahontas. Using the articles from Colonial Times: Short Nonfiction for American History, kids read closely, annotating and discussing their questions, inferences, responses, connections, and reactions.

Kids annotate with a specific focus, comparing different children’s perspectives by grappling with the varied experiences and the many challenges colonial and native children faced. Here are one child’s annotations about Thomas Savage, a young boy sent to live with the Powhatan. (Click image to magnify.)

Bring historical characters to life

To wrap up their conversations about different perspectives, kids can collaborate in small groups to create tableaux from a distinct and historically accurate point of view, speaking out as an English orphan sent to colonies or an enslaved child separated from his family or the Native American child Pocahontas. Kids love to be “in character” as they work together to dramatize these short snippets of historical experience.

[Read last week's post: History Matters]

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Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey have enjoyed a fifteen-year collaboration in education as authors and staff developers. They are coauthors of the Heinemann title Comprehension Going Forward and of Strategies That Work. They have also created a family of bestselling classroom materials under Heinemann’s firsthand imprint: The Comprehension ToolkitThe Primary Comprehension ToolkitToolkit TextsComprehension InterventionScaffolding for ELLs, and Connecting Comprehension and Technology. Their newest resource, Short Nonfiction for American History, is discussed in this blog post.