Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Great State of Franklin

As a form of review I often throw a couple dozen vocabulary words up on the board and ask students to write the words down in column one and in column two identify the word by the historical era it best belongs to. Students need to be able to explain to me, to the class, or to a partner why they wrote down the particular historical unit as their answer. Depending on the capabilities of the group or the needs of certain students I might also list all of the unit names we had discussed up to that point as a memory jogger.
For example, if I wrote the word Constitution on the board I would expect my students to correctly identify the historical unit as “Building a New Nation” while the vocabulary word potlatch would match up with “Native Americans.”

Let’s see how well you do…..the units are Native Americans, Exploration, Colonization, French and Indian War, American Revolution, and Forming a New Nation. The vocabulary words are circumnavigate, liberty, artisan, origin story, Ohio River Valley, and James Madison.

Commence to matching them up.

So, how did you match them up?

Here’s the best way….Native Americans/origin story, Exploration/circumnavigate, Colonization/artisan, French and Indian War/Ohio River Valley, American Revolution/liberty, James Madison/Forming a New Nation.

What about the word secession?

Which unit of history would it best go with?

The Civil War…right?

What if I changed the direction for the activity from which is the best unit to match the word up with to which historical period or unit is the earliest time period the word could fit?

If “that” was my direction then the Civil War would NOT be correct.

Nope….in fact the time period right after the American Revolution would be the correct historical time period.


Ever hear of the state of Franklin? Yep, it existed.

In April, 1784 the state of North Carolina gave the new United States government control of 29 million acres between the Mississippi River and the Allegheny Mountains (Appalachian) due to the extreme amount of debt the new nation found itself under.

This action, however, did not please many of the inhabitants of the area who did not want to suddenly find themselves as Spanish or French colonists should the Confederation government of the U.S. decide to sell the territory for debt relief. Apparently the legislature of North Carolina also became a bit wary as to what the national government would do with the land, so they took their offer off the table.

By August, 1784 the people living in this area had had it with the uncertainty of their fate. Were they citizens of North Carolina? Were they citizens of a new colony? The people declared they were free from North Carolina, and on May 16, 1785, a delegation asked the U.S. Congress for statehood. Their proposed name was Frankland.

Under the Articles of Confederation that governed this nation at the time a two-thirds majority of states had to vote in favor of statehood….they fell short with just seven states voting in favor.
Frankland’s leaders even opted to change the name to Franklin, after Benjamin Franklin, in hopes that members of the confederation congress would go for that, and the fact that the U.S. government did not officially declare them a state did not deter them.

A constitution was adopted, a government was seated at Greeneville, and John Sevier was elected governor. The “state”, however, could never support itself and since it was not officially recognized by the U.S. government, and because it ignored the fact that North Carolina controlled the territory, Franklin could not benefit from any military assistance.

North Carolina troops finally moved in when Franklin’s “government” refused to accept North Carolina’s offer to waive back taxes. One battle ensued at Colonel Tipton's farm in present day Johnson City, Tennessee.

After failing to garner a loan from Spain (which is ironic since so many citizens had not wanted to be beholden to the French or the Spanish), John Sevier finally turned himself into North Carolina authorities in February, 1788. His only punishment was to declare an oath of allegiance to North Carolina.

All differences between the state of North Carolina and the want-to-be state of Franklin were forgotten by the citizens of the territory when Native Americans began to heavily attack the white Franklin settlements in March, 1788. The citizens of Franklin were more than ready to declare they were in fact North Carolinians.

By 1790, the territory that had once claimed to be the state of Franklin was ceded by the government of North Carolina once more to the national government where it would become part of the Southwest Territory…..and would later become part of Tennessee where it remains today.

It’s not unusual for citizens to suddenly change the name of a proposed state or county to something that might be more favorable to those voting….see another article I wrote here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, 2008!

From my home to yours....Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bulge Begins....

Today is an important date in World War II history….The website maintained by the
World War II Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge states:

The Battle of the Bulge which lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 was the largest land battle of World War II in which the United States participated. More than a million men fought in this battle including some 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British. The German military force consisted of two Armies with ten corps (equal to 29 divisions). While the American military force consisted of a total of three armies with six corps (equal to 31 divisions). At the conclusion of the battle the casualties were as follows: 81,000 U.S. with 19,000 killed, 1400 British with 200 killed, and 100,000 Germans killed, wounded or captured.

You can find more of my World War II postings here.

Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday today….you can find them here.

A Christmas Fire at the White House

The White House has endured a few fires over the years, but one particular fire occurred during the Christmas season, and the Oval Office received some major damage.

See my most recent post…Up on the Rooftop...Hoover Watched over at American Presidents Blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

13 Things Concerning Isaias Hellman

I recently finished reading Towers of Gold: How One Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California by Frances Dinkelspiel, and I have to say I’m a bit jealous. Isaias Hellman is the great-great grandfather of Ms. Dinkelspiel. It’s not just anyone who can claim ancestory to a man who almost single-handedly birthed the state of California. While I’ll admit that it took many, many people to birth the great state of California….Isaias Hellman’s contributions cannot be denied.

The book is well written. It kept my interest with stagecoach robberies, an assassination attempt, bank runs, the 1906 earthquake, and is the final product of eight years of research during which Ms. Dinkelspiel poured over more than 50,000 archival documents.

Isaias Hellman isn’t just an American who should be taught about in a course including California history, but he should be included in courses that include early immigration, growth of the west, growth of early cities and towns, Jewish contributions to the making of America, and 19th century financial American History.

So, just who was Isaias Hellman? Well, you really need to read the book for a clear picture, but here are a few facts:

1. Isaias Hellman was a Jewish immigrant from Reckendorf, Bavaria. He immigrated to Los Angeles in 1859, a few years after California being admitted to the Union.

2. In fact, at the time Hellman reached California the U.S. territory was still heavily entrenched in Mexican culture…..Pueblo type buildings and the rules of Spanish society were the norm.

3. Today, Hellman is thought to be one of the greatest Pacific Coast financiers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Library Journal advises [Hellman] is attributed with stabilizing the financial panic of 1893 in Los Angeles by stacking $500,000 worth of gold coins on the counter of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in plain public view, hence the title of [Ms. Dinkelspiel’s] book.

4. He founded one of the territory’s first banks which later became the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank. Ms. Dinkelspiel advises at the height of his power in the early 20th century, he controlled more than $100 million in capital and served as president of 14 other banks.
5. Because of his financial backing Hellman was instrumental in developing at least seven other industries that shaped California: transportation, oil, electricity, land development, water, wine, and education.
6. He controlled the California wine industry for almost twenty years, and helped develop the famous Pacific Electric red cars that crisscrossed the Los Angeles region. Hellman was also involved in agriculture raising oranges, walnuts, and lemons at Rosemeade…the Hellman Ranch.

7. Hellman was the president of the first synogogue in Los Angeles.

8. He was very involved in the founding of the University of Southern California by donating land the college sits on today, and he served as Regent for many years for the University of California.

9. Following a move to San Francisco, Hellman opened Union Trust Company, the first trust company in California. He also was involved with the Nevada Bank which later became Wells Fargo Bank.

10. During tough times it was Hellman that kept Californians moving ahead. Following the 1906 earthquake Hellman ran the Wells Fargo Bank out of home when the building that housed the bank was damaged.

11. Sugar Pine Point State Park at Lake Tahoe was originally a Hellman home before it was donated to the state.

12. San Francisco Magazine states visionary financier Isaias Hellman was the Warren Buffet and Alan Greenspan of early California rolled into one. He arrived in Los Angeles as a practically penniless, 16-year-old German Jew when there were only 300 other Europeans in town. Three decades later, he controlled much of the booming city’s capital, land, and public works….Hellman starred in so many aspects of the state’s phoenixlike rise between the Civil War and the Depression that he became our Zelig, only with a really thick portfolio.
13. The San Francisco Gate states the book is a carefully researched and superbly written memoir…Dinkelspiel’s biography not only brings to life the transformation of California into the state with the strongest economy in the nation, and the outside personalities that forged it, but rescues from the proverbial dustbin of history the remarkable life and achievements of a man whose energy, creativity, resourcefulness and love for his adopted country had been all but forgotten.
If you are looking for a great biography to read then I suggest you give Towers of Gold a try.

Other bloggers are posting their 13 lists today as well. You can locate them here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fleet Problem 13: Pearl Harbor Foreshadowed

You cannot research Pearl Harbor… cannot teach Pearl Harbor….you cannot “know” Pearl Harbor without having read Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War by George Morgenstern published in 1947. James J. Martin in the Journal of Historical Review calls Morgenstern’s book the best, despite a formidable volume of subsequent writing by many others on the subject…and is probably the most widely commented upon book every produced by the World War Two Revisionist impulse in this country…Mr. Martin further states everyone writing on the subject of Pearl Harbor has either consciously or unconciously followed the “scenario” first laid down by George Morgenstern.

So, if Mr. Martin doesn’t convince you to read this definitive work on Pearl Harbor perhaps I can. First of all by bringing up Morgenstern’s work you can introduce yourself or your students to the concept of revisionist history. Just by the very moniker itself it sounds as if someone is changing history….and I’m always suspect in that. Change it if the facts bear out, but otherwise leave out your propaganda and “what if” theories. By definition historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on motives or process surrounding an historical event. The assumption of the revisionist is that the interpretation of a historical event or period as it is accepted by the majority of scholars needs a significant change.

Another reason why I would use Morgenstern’s work to round out my coverage of Pearl Harbor in my classroom has something to do with this young man:

Isn't he fine? This very capable young man is my husband….yes, Mr.Elementaryhistoryteacher, as he appeared in 1978 at the age of 19. You can find out more about his service to our country here. By bringing up a personal connection I have to the event I’m teaching, I can draw some students into the content mix. Instantly there is a flurry of “me, toos!” as students want to tell me about family members who have served or are serving in the armed forces.

If you clicked through you saw the picture of the ship I have below….a picture of the Harry E. Yarnell. For six years the good old Harry E. Yarnell was my husband’s home away from home as he sailed the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. I can’t tell you how many times I addressed an envelope to “Mr. EHT” aboard CG-17…Harry E. Yarnell….I can still recite the entire address though many years have flown by. I wish I still had all those letters….sometimes I wrote one everyday during my high school years from 10th grade on….what a diary I would have if “Mr. EHT” had held on to those letters, but alas he did not. I have his though….a good number of them.

Ok….back to the subject matter at hand—Pearl Harbor—as the attack on Pearl Harbor was remembered this past Sunday. Mr. Morgenstern’s book tells of an important event that has a connection to my husband and the ship he sailed on. You see, the Harry E. Yarnell that my husband’s ship was named for had a Pearl Harbor connection. Admiral Harry E. Yarnell served in the U.S. Navy for fifty-one years, Commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet (1936-1939) and perhaps the inspiration for the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941 on Oahu.

Yes, you read that right…..the inspiration for a day that has lived in infamy….yet, I would bet most Americans have never heard of Admiral Harry E. Yarnell.

Martin says of Morgenstern’s book:

Pearl Harbor was not just a disaster, he [Morgenstern] declared; it was what got the U.S.A. into the Second World War. And it was not satisfactory or sufficient to explain it away as a result of Japanese perfidy," which has dominated all discussion of it since Dec. 7, 1941. It has permitted the Roosevelt administration to "manage national policy as if it were a private show," from that time on. As a war correspondent in a strategic spot [Morgenstern] knew that Wartime censors closed in even more tightly about the field of public policy," and FDR's Decisions" were announced to the people after the event" routinely from entry into the war ever after. And, Morgenstern pointed out, increasing secrecy led to the invention of a new category of hush-hush information which could only be described in the phrase Top Secret.'" "The conclusions stated in Pearl Harbor are those to which the author was led by the record."

Morgenstern insisted, going on to say:

"Those who object to historical skepticism may complain that my book is no contribution to the political canonization of its central figure. That is no concern of mine. As to the purpose my book is intended to serve, some observations from the minority report of the Joint Congressional Committee which investigated the Pearl Harbor attack are pertinent: 'In the future the people and their Congress must know how close American diplomacy is moving to war so that they may check in advance if imprudent and support its position if sound ... How to avoid war and how to turn war -- if it finally comes -- to serve the cause of human progress is the challenge to diplomacy today as yesterday.'"

Let’s go back in time a bit before Pearl Harbor to February, 1932.

From this source...

Rear Admiral Harry E. Yarnell pioneered carrier tactics in an exercise that later came to be discussed as Fleet Problem 13. [Yarnell] commanded the carriers Lexington and Saratoga in an effort to demonstrate that Hawaii was vulnerable to naval air power.

At a time when air warfare waged from ships was radical thought Admiral Yarnell fully supported the idea.

The expectation was that Yarnell would attack with battleships, but instead he left his battleships behind and proceeded only with his carriers to the north of Hawaii where it was less likely he would be detected. With a storm as cover, at dawn on a Sunday, February 7, Yarnell’s 152 (some sources state 153) planes attacked the harbor from the northeast, just as the Japanese would ten years later. The army airfields were first put out of comission after which battleship row was attacked—with multiple hits on Navy ships. No defending aircraft were able to launch. The Navy’s war-game umpires declared the attack a total success, prompting Yarnell to strenuously warn of the Japanese threat.

The Navy exercise became known as Fleet Problem 13 and the results were largely ignored by Navy brass while the Japanese….the revisionists declared... paid close attention.

Following Pearl Harbor [Yarnell was] repelled and gravely angered by the Administration’s tactic …of scapegoating the military and especially the naval commander for it all, [and] denounced this action as “a blot on our national history.” Writing of Morgenstern’s book in Far Eastern Survey, he forthrightly declared, “Mr. Morgenstern is to be congratulated on marshaling the available facts of this tragedy in such manner as to make it clear to every reader where lies the responsibility.”

…and this brings me to third reason to explore Morgenstern’s book and Fleet Problem 13 for students. The event would make a great mystery type activity for students where they are given a designed framework to research and discover on their own. Their results could then be debated with the class with some students using Fleet Problem 13 as the inspiration for the attack on Pearl Harbor and others using more popular causes for the event.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

White House Christmas Card, 2008

This year’s White House Christmas card has been sent. This is an image of the inside of the card which includes Scripture from Matthew 5:16….Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify you father which is in heaven.

If you want to see the beautiful cover image on the card you’ll have to check out my post over at American Presidents Blog….found here. I have some other links there to my past postings regarding the White House Christmas card.

Many thanks go to Michael Swartz of Monoblogue for alerting me that the greeting for this year had been sent. The image seen here is used with Michael’s permission.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other participating bloggers here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beach Red

I’m a huge fan of old movies….the sort Channel 17 (WTBS) out of my hometown of Atlanta used to show all day on Saturdays back when Ted Turner used to own the station. Those movies sparked my love of history by connecting events for me and providing information about manners of dress and social and cultural mores of various historical eras.

I’ve used various movies in my own classroom to spark motivation, to provide visual images in context, and mainly because movie treasures simply aren’t shown on television like they used to be without really hunting for them…..

Beach Red is the title of a film that was nominated for an Oscar in 1967 for best film editing. Cornel Wilde directed and starred in the World War II film along with Rip Torn. The film depicts American soldiers landing on a unamed beach held by the Japanese in the Pacific. The movie tells the story written by Peter Bowman who actually served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. Many have claimed the opening sequences of Beach Red can be compared to the more modern Saving Private Ryan.

During the making of Beach Red Cornel Wilde had little assistance from the U.S. Marines as they were a little preoccupied with a place called Vietnam. The Marines did provide some old footage, but the film was so damaged Mr. Wilde spent most of the film’s budget refurbishing the film clips……a nice little present the U.S. government and historians appreciate today.

While the opening sequence could be any of the Pacific islands that saw fighting during World War II, I find the title particularly interesting…..Beach Red. Of course the significance is right there in front of you. The fighting, of course, made the pristene white beaches red…red with the blood of American and Japanese combatants.

Flip the words and you arrive at the name of an actual location….Red Beach…Red Beach on Tarawa Island…better known to some as “Bloody Tarawa” where after three days of savagery more than a thousand Americans died and more than two thousand were wounded. The Tarawa battle was the first major amphibious assault in the Central Pacific on a Japanese stronghold during the Pacific War.

Leon Cooper’s job, as a Naval landing craft officer, was to land Marines of the 2nd Division on Red Beach. He made several landings, each time watching scores of his countrymen being cut to pieces by Japanese gunfire. His sad duty later was to transport the wounded back to his ship for medical treatment. Unlike later invasions, there was no Navy hospital ship in attendance to render expert medical care. The image below shows Mr. Cooper standing next to a landing craft similar to the one he was assigned to during the war.

Far more disturbing than the garbage on Red Beach; hundreds of Americans still lie where they fell during the battle sixty-five years ago, including Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Marine Lt. Alexander Bonnyman. Backed by veterans groups, History Flight (Marathon, Florida) and WFI Research Group (Fall River, Massachusetts) have now completed an exhaustive survey of battle sites in Tarawa using radar and surveyor-quality Trimble GPS system, and have located the remains of 139 Marines. An article regarding the discovery of the remains can be found here.

The last organized effort by the Government to identify and repatriate the remains of Americans killed in Tarawa, and located in various sites on the island, was a six-month study completed on May 20, 1946. A report by the Army Quartermaster Section, Memorial Branch, dated July 3, 1946, states that, “About fifty percent of the bodies previously reported buried on Tarawa were found, and of that number, only 58 percent were identified.” There has been no effort by the Government to follow up on the 1946 investigation.

According to the Department of Defense, 72,766 American Armed Forces personnel of World War II are still listed as MIA. At least fifty percent lie where they fell in various Pacific Islands, including Tarawa.

December 7th….that day that does live on in infamy….will be the day that Leon Cooper (I wonder if he’s related to my husband’s family?) will arrive in Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress to discuss his efforts for the last three years to have the US government remove the garbage that litters Red Beach in Tarawa [and to discuss the American remains on the island].

Time Magazine for December 6, 1943 stated, “Last week some two to three thousand U.S. Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn, and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa.”

Cooper says, “It is a sad commentary about our nation that private organizations have assumed the responsibility of locating the remains of American dead in Tarawa. They are doing this because our nation has failed to do so. These private organizations feel that those who died in defense of our country deserve to be repatriated and to be remembered with dignity and respect. Their relatives are entitled to closure. It is our nation’s shame that we have allowed these honored dead to lie in unmarked graves in that far off land all these years.”
Cooper made a trip to Tarawa this past February, returning with still painful memories of his battle experiences, taking a camera crew with him to film the garbage on Red Beach and to find out more about the American dead on the island.

The record of his visit is captured in a documentary, "Return to Tarawa--The Leon Cooper Story." (Please click the link for a documentary trailer) Narration is by movie great, Ed Harris. It will soon be released. Mark Noah, of History Flight, made significant contributions in the making of the film. Major television channels have expressed interest. A major national magazine wants to review the film.

Mr. Cooper’s books, “90 Day Wonder—Darkness Remembered,” and “The War in the Pacific—A Retrospective” are available with websites located here and here, and his blog
90 Day Wonder can be found online.

All too often we teach in our classrooms that the war continued in the Pacific after VE-Day, but by that point we are itchy to get on with other things. Oh sure, we hit the highpoints….the easy stuff like McArthur’s surrender in the Philippines, Midway, Iwo Jima and then we race headlong into into those horrendous events of August 6th and 9th—the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

What about all of the various island-hopping battles that got us to the surrender agreement signed on the USS Missouri in September, 1945?

What about the aftermath? How did the battles change the lives of the people who lived on many of those islands?

What responsibility do combatants have to the battlefield once the battle is over?
What responsibility do governments have to their fallen soldiers in foreign lands?

All of this asks interesting questions that could spark deep thought and interesting debate.

The portion of this post that you see in italics were sent to me in an email alerting me to Mr. Cooper’s efforts.

Here is another Tarawa remembrance story.

More information regarding the litter of war found on Tarawa.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Diversions

Thanksgiving is on the brain the week….who is going where, the assignments for who brings what dish, the grocery list, catching up on housework and keeping in mind those Christmas decorations need to be ready to go up the day after the feast. Then there is the cooking….cooking….cooking.

If you need a break from the preparations or if you merely need a diversion from all the family love during this time of thanksgiving check out the Plimouth Plantation website. One interesting feature of the website is the list of ongoing blogs that you can link to.

You can follow As the Wetu Turns which is a daily chronicle of daily life in the Wampanoag Indigenous program, or follow My So-Called Pilgrim Life….a chronicle of daily life in the 1627 English village at Plimouth Plantation from both a modern and historical perspective.

Even though it’s not been updated since June, 2008 Mayflower II-Captain's Blog is still a great read. Captain Peter Arenstam chronicles the events surrounding the Mayflower II 50th anniversary celebrations. You can find out what it takes to keep a 17th-century ship afloat.

Finally, The Embroiderer's Story is detailing the story of the Colonial Wardrobe and Textiles Department in their quest to recreate a 17th-century embroidered jacket.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Historical Tales and Literature Tales...They Go Hand In Hand

One of the regular patterns I tend to follow in my teaching is introducing content to students followed by textbook skills. I also like to allow students time to work with each section of content on their own or in small groups where they can discover more information on their own. This also provides an opportunity for students to confirm content I’ve introduced to them.

I smile and am quietly amused when one of my young charges trudges up to show me a historical fact we have discussed the day before. “Gee, sweetie,” I ask, “did you thing Elementaryhistoryteacher was telling tales?”

Of course, telling an interesting tale is what makes a dynamic subject to study. Sometimes you even need to add some other tales of the non-fiction kind to spice things up and motivate students to manipulate the content.

Take the inevitable unit on the framework of the U.S. government that follows the American Revolution—three branches of government each with specific duties all of them criss-crossing across the triangle of checks and balances can make even the most eager of students glaze over into dumbfounded silence watching the cloth tick away until lunch, recess, or even—thank goodness—until math class begins.

I’m real excited to discover Lane Smith’s book titled Madam President to add to my collection of government literature tales I can share with students.

There are many reasons why I would utilize this book with my government unit. Here are 13 ways I would ask student to independently interact with the book after experiencing my lesson regarding the three branches and after they have read Madam President:

1. The book contains some very interesting artwork—the little girl in each illustration captures your attention as she goes about her combined day as a little girl and as Madam President. I would ask students to compare the artwork in Lane Smith’s book to another book in my government "tale" box and write up an analysis. How are they alike? How are they different?

2. The text is limited per page (actually a good thing), but fully details the various details of the executive branch from “photo ops” to “a president must lead by example, even if it means cleaning her own room.” I would ask students to come up with a list of things the President of the United States would find it difficult to do once he or she became president.

3. Madam President is a great read aloud for children as young as four, but my small groups of nine, ten, and eleven year olds (of all reading levels) would be comfortable working with the book. I might strategically place children together depending on reading level and due to social interaction concerns.

4. Lane Smith has included many duties of the president. One activity I would ask students to complete it to use a two-columned chart titled Non-Fiction Duties (Real Duties) and Fiction Duties. For example, from the pages regarding the President’s Cabinet a student might list the Secretary of the Treasury under non-fiction but would list Secretary of Dance under fiction.

Another way the chart could be used is for students to explain the non-fiction and fiction aspects of each presidential act. In the section where Lane Smith relates the president must attend state funerals the illustration shows Madam President attending a pet’s funeral. This would go under the heading of fiction. I would then expect the student to give me an example of a real….non-fiction state funeral.

5. I would ask students to access at least three sources online regarding the duties of the executive branch. Students would compare the sources to Lane Smith’s book. Wre there any duties Mr. Smith left out?

6. Presidential veto power is in the book as a special privilege for the president. I would ask students to research the entire process regarding what Congress can do if a bill is vetoed and how a veto can be overridden….and what in the heck is a pocket veto anyway?

7. The book advises a president must keep the peace. I would extend the example illustrated in the book (two students fighting until Madam President breaks it up) by asking students to provide other ways and situations where the president keeps the peace.

8. The song “Hail to the Chief “ is mentioned in the book along with an image of actual sheet music. I would ask students to review the lyrics and based on the duties outline in the book Madam Presidents they should come up with new singable lyrics.

9. Several different ways are given to indicate Madam President is important from the title Head of State to the more fun and more contemporary Big Cheese. I would ask students to come up with other ways we could refer to the president.

10. Lane Smith tells his readers, “A president must be protected at all times.” What a great invitation to research the Secret Service!

11. One of the more fun duties of the president given in the book is “approving lunches.” The illustration shows Madam President leaving for school with her sack lunch. Students would provide me with a formal menu of their approved luncheon with an illustration.

12. Another activitiy I would include in the choices I post for students would be for students to write a campaign speech detail all of the reasons why they would make a great president and which duties they would promise to fulfill.

13. So, whether you teach in a classroom, homeschool, or teach informally during those teachable moments with your kids or grandkids Lane Smith’s Madam President is an excellent and fun resource to use when discussing the executive branch.

Go get your copy here before the inauguration!

Lane Smith’s webpage can be found here and a separate biography here.

Today is Thursday. You can find others participating in Thursday Thirteen here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Balloon View of Washington D.C.

It’s always so interesting to see what you can see from a balloon. This is a balloon view of Washington D.C. taken from the July 27, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly. You can click on the image if you want to see an enlarged version.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other bloggers participating by clicking here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

13: The Discovery of HMS Ontario

When we think of the American Revolution we tend to focus on land battles like Lexington, Trenton, and Yorktown….rarely do we discuss ships and how they played a role in the War for Independence.

Recently a 22-gun British warship was located at the bottom of Lake Ontario near the southern shore. Many shipwreck enthusiasts have named the HMS Ontario the “Holy Grail” of shipwrecks because it was considered a lost cause as far as locating it.

1. During a gale on October 31, 1780, 130 people lost their lives as the HMS Ontario plummeted to the lakebed. There was a garrison of 60 British soldiers, a crew of approximately 40 men, and possibly about 30 American war prisoners aboard.

2. The ship was finally found in water up to 500 feet deep using side-scanning sonar and an unmanned submersible making it the oldest and only fully intact British warship ever found in the Great Lakes

3. Luckily the finders of the wreck understand the ship is a war grave and have no plans to raise it or remove any of its artifacts.

4. In an interview the finders also indicated the ship is still considered to be property of the British Admiralty.

5. The finders located the ship resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 70 feet above the lake bottom.

6. One of the finders was quoted as saying, “Usually when ships go down in big storms, they get beat up quite a bit. They don’t sink nice and square. This went down in a huge storm, and it still managed to stay intact. There are even two windows that aren’t broken. Just going down, the pressure difference, can break the windows. It’s a beautiful ship.”

7. The fact that the waters of Lake Ontario are very cold and deep are positives that helped the HMS Ontario remain pristene. There was little light and no oxygen to hasten decomposition, and little marine life to feed on the wood.

8. The HMS Ontario only saw five months of water travel. It was used to ferry troops and supplies along the frontier of upstate New York. Ship enthusiasts state she was the largest British ship on the Great Lakes at the time.

9. Once the British knew HMS Ontario had been lost they searched for her while keeping her disappearance a secret from the Continentals, but a day after the sinking hatchway gratings, the binnacle, compasses, and several hats and blankets drifted ashore. Later the ship’s sails were found drifting on the lake.

10. Six bodies thought to be from the HMS Ontario were found near Wilson, New York.

11. Two centuries later the ship was finally found. One of the finders had been searching for the HMS Ontario for over 35 years. For the last three years over 200 square miles were searched before the ship was found earlier this month

12. The finders state there should be no disputes regarding their identification of the find since the HMS Ontario had a rare feature…..two crow’s nests on each mast. Another was a decoratively carved bow stem. Two cannons were found, two anchors, and the ship’s bell.

13. Finally, what really clinched the ship’s identification was the quarter galleries on either side of the stern --- a kind of balcony with windows typically placed on the sides of the stern-castle, a high, tower-like structure at the back of a ship that housed the officers’ quarters.

Currently a documentary is being planned to detail the find.

You can see a video of the submerged ship at this YouTube link.

You can find more bloggers participating in Thursday Thirteen here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless: Anarchy!

This is an image of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. They were both convicted of conspiracy against the law and sentenced to two years in the penitentary. They both were fined $10,000 each as well on July 9, 1917.

Based on the year of the conviction you should be able to tell me what war was involved.

After her release from prison she was arrested again and deported to Russia where she was first supportive of the Russian Revolution, but eventually spoke out against the violence and supression of independent voices.

The Emma Goldman Papers is a good site to start with if you want to find out more about her.

A great source for historical images can be found at Teaching Politics

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other bloggers participating by clicking here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

11---11---at 11 o’clock. Does that signify anything to you? If you are a World War I veteran it would. That is the exact day and time of the armistice….the time when all fighting was to stop. From that point until the years following World War II each November 11th was remembered as Amistice Day.

Due the scale of World War II and the number of soldiers and sailors who took part, who were injured, or were killed Amistice Day was broadened to include all veterans of the armed forces for all time.

As you have noticed I’ve been absent a bit over the last few days. I’ve been busy. The historical committee at my church changed up our normal method of recognizing our veterans to include a photo display and video recognizing the men and women of our church who have served their country.

I encourage you to go visit the site using this link which takes you to all of the postings on the blog regarding veterans including a video presentation, pictures of our framed display (61 veterans, so far), and postings for each war era including the pictures of the veterans, their names, and a bit about their service to our country.

The postings involving each war era would be a good place to have students complete research on particular veterans or particular wars or conflicts. In many cases I have linked to the history of our veteran’s battles and ships where I could.

It was an honor and blessing for me to work with these photos and information about each veteran. I hope you click over and enjoy viewing the postings.
This site is still loading slowly....I'm sorry. I may just have to go to my own domain within the next few weeks to solve the problem. At any rate let this site load and follow the link to view some great veterans of our country!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's That Time Again!

From my home to yours.....Have a great Trick-or-Trick evening!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Colonial America: Placing Logs Carefully

Read my title again. Yes, logs were important as many colonial homes were built with logs, but in the classroom when discussing colonial America logs can take on a whole new meaning.

Personal communication with students can provide useful information to assess student thinking and learning. Learning log journals are just one type of personal communication, but are a type that has provided benefits for me and more importantly for my students. These types of journals provide students with an opportunity to write across the curriculum and are ongoing efforts to build metacognition. In fact, according to Anita Woolfolk’s book Educational Psychology (2001) the more students elaborate new ideas, the more they make them their own, the deeper their understanding and the better their memory for the knowledge.

Journaling matches various achievement targets because as each question is posed to students they must reflect upon what they have learned. R.J. Stiggins relates in Student-Involved Assessment for Learning (2005) the goal of learning logs is to have students reflect on, analyze, describe, and evaluate their learning experiences, successes, and challenges, writing about the conclusions they draw.

Learning log questions to pose to students can be integrated into existing units in seamless fashion. For example, five questions that could be and have been implemented in my classroom are:

1. Using the top half of your paper draw a KWL chart. As we begin our new unit on the British colonies what are some things you already know about them? Place these things under the “know” column. What are some things you are hoping to discover? List at least four questions you hope to have answered by the end of the unit under the “want to know” column.

This particular question helps me gauge what students already know. KWL charts also provide opportunities for students to set some of their own learning goals by providing them with an opportunity to list questions they may have. Finally, KWL charts provide a reflection experience for the student. After a unit is completed students examine the first two columns and analyze their responses. Did they really know what they thought they did? Were misconceptions cleared up? Were all of their questions answered? Did these questions lead to more questions? By utilizing KWL in the learning log process students are given a framework for reflection in the context of a graphic organizer.

2. Use a three-columned chart on your paper labeled New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern to list information concerning the climate and physical features of each colonial region. Underneath your chart reflect on this information and explain which regions would be best for farming and which regions would be best for other industries such as fishing.

While this particular question involves basic content knowledge I can gain better knowledge regarding how students internalized information during a lesson on the colony types through their written responses. Does the student understand the characteristics of fishing and farming regions? This type of question provides an opportunity for students to put the content in their own words, and provides extra emphasis on a particular aspect of the curriculum—climate and physical features determine how a group of people use a region economically.

3. Yesterday you were asked to complete a writing assignment where you became someone who lived somewhere in the colonies during the early 1700s. You were able to choose your role—farmer, merchant, artisan, woman, indentured servant, slave, or Native American. Reflect on the assignment. Did you find it particularly helpful to your learning? Why or why not?

This type of reflection would provide insight into what a student is thinking about a particular assignment. Because of the nature of the assignment students would explain what was easy or difficult for them to do.

4. Following our mid-unit quiz regarding the colonies do you feel sucessful so far with the content? Which items of key knowledge have you found useful? Which items have been difficult for you to understand?

The actual quiz would provide data regarding students’ performance with a pen and paper test. The learning log question would provide additional data that should assist in determining why the quiz grades were high or low. If students were not successful with the quiz their reflection would provide useful information into weak areas I might have in my instruction, provide me the reasons to make lesson changes, and would provide me with important information regarding potential bias I had not already detected or planned for. On the other hand, student reflections would also provide me with data regarding students who did well on the quiz. A high number of perfect or near perfect scores can help me make the determination that the material I have presented is not challenging enough.

5. Reflect back on your KWL assignment for question one. Were your ideas correct you listed under the “know” column? Were all of your questions under the “want to know” column answered? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Once you have your journal entry complete go back to your KWL chart and fill in the different things you have learned.

These questions provide students as well as me an opportunity to reflect back to where students were and how far they have come. A determination can also be made concerning lack of knowledge and lack of certain skills.

Potential sources of bias must be eliminated from this particular assessment for the results to be meaningful for myself and for students per Stiggins. By having a clear achievement target questions can be focused and varied enough to cover the domain and eliminate a sampling bias. Learning log journals can help eliminate my own bias if I provide enough time for students to think through their responses as well as write them.

Giving prompts that include additional clarification statements or questions will help students who need extra language support interpret the questions properly. Providing feedback and additional comments to student responses as well as allowing students to respond to my comments will help to elimnate interpretation errors. While using a writing type assessment can indicate problems involving a student’s low writing ability it does provide students with an opportunity to communicate freely and have the undivided attention of the instructor. Any feelings of peer pressure or feelings of shyness are eliminated. Environmental biases, such as classroom distractions, can be held to minimum if tried and true classroom management strategies are enforced. Students who have a high stress level and tension due to their perception they are a poor writer can be encouraged through one-on-one meetings where specific problems can be addressed and strategies can be offered.

Learning log journals meet many different requirements for today’s classroom and appeal to me as a teacher. I feel with careful planning, strategic teaching strategies that provide clear information for students as to what they are to do, and constant feedback with students learning log journals can be a very successful tool to communicate with students.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

13 Things Regarding Margaret Fuller

1. Margaret Fuller was a member of a prominent group of New England writers and philosophers who developed transcendentalism.

2. Transcendentalism states people should transcend or overcome the limits of their mind and let their soul reach out to embrace the beauty of universe.

3. Ms. Fuller, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, founded The Dial which published poetry and essays regargarding the transcendentalist movement.

4. She organized meetings for women in Boston to promote education and intellectual development.

5. Her book, Women in the Nineteenth Century, argued women should have equal political rights.

6. In 1844, Horace Greeley hired her as a literary critic with the New York Tribune.

7. In 1846, Mr. Greeley sent her to Europe to cover reform efforts across the continent.

8. While in Italy, Margaret Fuller met and married Giovanni Angelo Ossoli—he was a revolutionary fighting to unite Italy into one country.

9. Fuller sent home eyewitness accounts of the Italian Revolution of 1848 making her the first American woman foreign war correspondent.

10. In 1850, Ms. Fuller along with her husband and child returned to the United States. The Italian Revolution had fallen apart.

11. The Fuller-Ossolis sailed aboard the Elizabeth, an American merchant freighter carrying cargo that included marble from Carrara and a statue of John C. Calhoun sculpted by Hiram Powers.

12. While at sea for five weeks the ship’s captain, Seth Hasty, died of smallpox. Margaret’s child, Angelino, also contracted the disease but recovered.

13. As the ship approached Fire Island, New York it hit a sandbar (perhaps due to the inexperienced first mate being in control) it hit a sandbar. Many passengers urged Margaret Fuller and her husband to jump overboard to save themselves, but they didn’t. Ossoli was thrown overboard by a wave and following that witnesses stated (the ship was only 50 yards from the shore) Fuller could not be seen.

Margaret Fuller, her husband, and her child all drowned.

The image with this post is the only daguerreotype of Ms. Fuller known to exist.

Click my keyword “Thursday Thirteen” to view more of my 13 lists. Other bloggers participate as well. You can find them

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jamestown Had a Sister?!?!?

When I teach the English colonies I tend to follow the same format teachers do all across the United States. Before discussing the original 13 colonies we hit on major firsts for all the heavy-hitting players—Spain’s first settlements, the first settlements for France, and then we begin discussing Roanoke and Jamestown.

What I don’t normally share with students is information regarding Jamestown’s little sister….Popham.

In 1607, thirteen years prior to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, Englishmen on behalf of the Virginia Company formed a colony on the shores of New England at the mouth of the Kennebec River. At that time, the mouth of the Kennebec River, near Phippsburg, was not in the state of Maine as it is today but in territory the English identified as Northern Virginia. The colony was short-lived….a little over a year passed before it was abandoned in the fall of 1608.

So why don’t we remember the Popham Colony today?

When studets learn that the Pilgrims founded the FIRST New England colony in 1620, are we merely foisting a lie onto our students?


The reason why the Popham Colony faded in our historical memory has to do with the success, or in this case the lack of success of the colony.

Several important lessons regarding the process of colonization can be learned from the Popham experience, however. The colony did not fail because of massive starvation, sickness, or even Native American troubles though there were those problems to some degree. The Popham Colony failed mainly due to family changes within the ranks of the colony’s leadership.

On May 31, 1607, 100 to 120 colonists left Plymouth in two ships. Their mission was to trade items—precious metals, spices, and furs—and to show that they could build English ships from the natural resources in the area. The expedition leader, George Popham sailed on the ship Gift of God. Good old George received the honor of being the leader of the colony because his uncle was a Virginia Company financial backer, Sir John Popham, who just happened to be Lord Chief Justice of England. George Popham’s second in command, Gilbert Raleigh, was the half nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh. The remaining colonists were mainly soldiers, artisans, farmers, and traders.

Much of what we know about the Popham Colony today resides in a primary document—a diary authored by Robert Davis—the captain of the second ship, the Mary and John, to make the voyage.

Immediately upon landing the colonists built a settlement they named Fort Saint George. We know how the fort was designed because one of the colonists, John Hunt, drew a map. It showed a star-shaped fort with ditches and ramparts. The grounds included a storehouse and chapel plus fifteen additional structures. The fort also had nine guns. The map has a notable history in and of itself as it ended up in the Spanish archives where it was located in 1888. Espionage was hot and heavy during the race to see who could colonize North America first. The map had been passed to King Philip III of Spain in 1608 by the Spanish ambassador, Pedro de Zuniga.

By now you are probably wondering what caused the Popham Colony to fail…..Well, it’s true—the Maine winters were a little too much for them. Any support system the colonists had developed with Native Americans eventually deteriorated which led to the realization that any profitable trade the colonists and financial backers hoped for never materialized.

Half of the colonists returned to England in December, 1607.

George Popham died in 1608 leaving Raleigh Gilbert in command. Apparently Gilbert didn’t have what it took to lead a fledgling colony plus he soon learned he had inherited his family’s estate, so he returned to England. The remaining colonists would not stay without Gilbert and made plans to leave with him.

…and what about the dream to construct ships from the Maine forests? In this the Popham Colony was somewhat successful. Led by their shipwright, Digby, they constructed a 30-ton pinnace they christened Virginia---the first English ship built in Maine and probably in all of North America.

Some of the colonists returned to England along with Raleigh Gilbert on the Mary and John while others sailed aboard the pinnace, Virginia.

So, the Pilgrims weren’t the first New Englanders….they were merely the first New Englanders who stayed.

.....and anyway...Popham Beach doesn’t have the same ring to it as Plymouth Rock, does it?

This website explains how people today are attempting to recreate the Virginia.

The exact site of the Popham Colony was lost until its rediscovery in 1994. Much of this historical location is now part of Maine's Popham Beach State Park.

Here are some interesting links regarding Popham Colony: This site discusses the archeology at the Popham site, the Archaeology Channel shares some information, and there is an informative article here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

13 Quotations Regarding History

Here are 13 quotations regarding history, but remember… lifted line doesn’t necessarily identify the person’s entire philosophy regarding the love of or the importance of history.

1. Don’t forget your history nor your destiny.
Attributed to Bob Marley

2. History makes people wise.
Attributed to Sir Francis Bacon

3. History is written by the victors.
Attributed to Winston Churchill

4. The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery, and tenacity.
Attributed to Mahatma Ganhi

5. Ideas shape the course of history.
Attributed to John Maynard Keyes

6. I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson

7. There is a history in all men’s lives.
Attributed to William Shakespeare

8. History is fables agreed upon.
Atributed to Voltaire

9. A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.
Attributed to Robert Heinlein

10. If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?
Attributed to George Bernard Shaw

11. The causes of events are ever more interesting than the events themselves.
Attributed to Marcus Tulius Cicero

12. History is but a confused heap of facts.
Attributed to Miguel de Cervantes

13. History is more or less bunk
Attibuted to Henry Ford.

Other bloggers participate in Thursday Thirteen. You can locate them here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Eating Up the Bread of Our Children

Most dictionaries define pork as a government project or appropriation that yields jobs or benefits to a specific locale and patronage opportunities to its political representative.

A great article over at Harper's Magazine advises “pork-barreling as a legislative epithet is a pre—Civil War coinage that referred to the custom of handing out salt pork to slaves, who would crowd around the barrels that held it, and indeed, members of Congress have raided the federal treasury for home-district boondoggles ever since the earliest days of the republic.” John Ferejohn’s book, Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968 confirms this explanation.

To qualify specifically as pork legislation must meet seven criteria per the Citizens Against Government Waste and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition. They are:

*the legislation must be requested by only one chamber of Congress;
*cannot be specifically authorized;
*cannot be competitively awarded;
*has not been requested by the President
*greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
*serves only a local or special interest.

The earliest form of pork barrel spending would be the Bonus Bill of 1817. It was introduced by John C. Calhoun and it involved highway construction linking the East and South with the western frontier. Part of the controversy was the source of the funds….an earnings bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. The proposed bill was eventually vetoed by President James Madison.

Calhoun actually justified his pork-barrel spending as many Congressmen do today. He used the Constitution to bolster his argument citing Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 which Calhoun argued actually gives Congress the power to spend by stating, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but by consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

Years later President Grover Cleveland would also use the Constitution to support his nickname as the “king of the veto” because he rejected hundreds of congressional spending bills during his two terms. He continually stated he could find no support in the Constitution for the appropriations.

Over at the site for Citizens Against Government Waste they have a well-documented discussion regarding the history of pork-barrel spending. I’ve included some of it here:

Washington insiders have espoused this “power of the purse” to validate Congress’s mushrooming appetite for pork. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) have argued eliminating earmarks would equate to an unconstitutional delegation of spending discretion to the executive branch. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that earmarking has been going on “since we were a country.” A spokeswoman for lobbying from Cassidy and Associates said, “Earmarking has been going on since the time of George Washington.”

The First Congress rejected a bill to loan money to a glass manufacturer after several members challenged the constitutionality of the proposal. In a debate during the Second Congress over a bill to pay a bounty to New England cod fishermen, Rep. Hugh Williamson of South Carolina argued that it was unconstitutional to gratify one part of the Union by oppressing the other…destroy this barrier,-and it is not a few fishermen that will enter, but all manner of persons; people of every trade and occupation may enter in at the breach, until they have eaten up the bread of our children.

Thomas Jefferson made a similar prediction in a letter to James Madison dated March 6, 1796, challenging Madison’s proposition for improvements to roads used in a system of national mail delivery. Jefferson wrote:

Have you considered all the consequences of your proposition respecting post roads? I view it as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress and their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.”

Madison, the Father of the Constitution, actually vetoed the public works bill stating the clause “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” did not grant Congress additional powers not enumerated in Article 1, Section 8.

It would be hard to imagine a more convoluted, inaccurate, and self-serving interpretation of the Constitution and U.S. history. The Founding Fathers deemed that Congress could only spend money in pursuant to those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment leaves all other responsibilities to the states.

…and like many things dealing with the U.S. Constitution the debate regarding what constitutes appropriate appropriations will continue.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Bailout Bill: 13 Examples of Pork

A three-page bill becomes 450…..ten dollar words, more compound sentences, extra commas, a list of definitions…..What caused the bill to grow, and grow, and grow?????


With enough thrust pigs have no problem flying.

I’ve been hanging on to that statement for awhile now….just looking for the right place for it, I guess.

Well, with the thrust of of a few million here and a few million there the bailout bill has become the largest pig I’ve ever seen, and it has been thrust upon the backs of John and Jane Q. Taxpayer.

Here are 13 examples of pork Congress has thrust down our throats:

1. Let’s start with section 305 of the bill titled “Modifications of Energy Efficient Appliance Credit.” This is the part of the bailout where manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances will qualify up to $250 in federal tax credits for each machine they produce over the next three years. You and I will be paying over $322 million for this serving of pork over the next 10 years.

2. Are you a rum drinker? Thanks to the bailout bill Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will receive an extension on tax rebates they already receive on rum duties (taxes).

3. Hollywood has nothing to fear….the bill includes two separate tax breaks for film companies that produce movies in the United States…..$500 million in tax breaks.

4. U.S. Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) voted against the bailout at first. I wonder...what could have changed his mind? Could it be the fact that the bill now signed into law contains six pages of earmarks to benefit Alaskan fishermen who were victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster for a whopping total of $239 million?

5. Check around the exterior of your workplace tomorrow. Look for all of those bike racks that surely must be there. Our esteemed legislators approved a $10 million credit to help employers defray the cost of storing the bicycles of their employees who commute to work.

6. NASCAR fans have nothing to dread. The bailout bill creates a seven-year cost recovery period for construction of a motorsports racetrack. The IRS wanted to increase the depreciation period from seven to fifteen years cutting the trackowner’s depreciation in half. You and I will pay $100 million to help out the trackowners.

7. Texas, Nevada, Florida, Washington, and Wyoming apparently are very concerned about citizens in their states who do not pay state income taxes. Now they will be able to deduct the amount of sales tax they pay over a year from their federal income tax for two additional years.

Let me get this straight….the citizens aren’t paying state income tax AND they get to deduct sales tax they have paid on their Federal return?

8. This one makes me feel all warm and fuzzy…..$148 million for the extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products, wool research fund and wool duty refunds. Ok, change warm and fuzzy to itchy.

9. American Samoa will benefit from provisions costing you and I $33 million that are meant to help economic development.

10. Around pages 262 and 263 of the bill you can locate the following language….”certain wooden arrows designed for use by children”. Basically the bill exempts arrows from an excise tax of 39 cents. Huh? Are large amounts of American children using arrows?!?!

11. $3.5 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) has been set aside to force health insurance companies to cover mental illness.

12. Section 324 of the bailout bill extends an existing program through December, 2009 regarding the contribution of books to public schools and the tax credit that goes along with it.

13. Finally, Section 201 involves cellulosic biofuel and the tax deduction that goes along with owning a facility that produces it.

Would you like a little sauce with your pork?

You can locate other blogs participating in Thursday 13 here

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wordless: A Wienie Wednesday

I’ve been taking a tour around the fantastic site Coney Island History. This week’s image comes from the site and focuses on Nathan Handwerker’s famous hotdog stand.

Nathan’s started out hawking the five cent hog dog, but people weren’t so sure about paying such a cheap price for a hot dog and were willing to visit other Coney Island food establishments and pay higher prices.

At one point Mr. Handwerker resorted to hiring derelicts to sit at his counter and eat free hot dogs thinking the crowd would draw more people. It didn’t. Finally, he dressed ten of the homeless men as doctors and advertised, “If doctors eat our hot dogs, you know they’re good!” The general public finally started visiting his stand.

By 1955, Nathan Handwerker had sold his one hundred millionth hot dog.

Check out a great article regarding Coney Island’s food vendors here.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other bloggers participating by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An Apple a Day....

For some time I’ve been a member over at The Apple, a place where teachers meet and learn. Forum discussions, lesson plans, videos, job leads……you’ll find it all over at The Apple.

You’ll also find education articles over there including some written by folks you might recognize including me. I’ve been a featured writer over at The Apple for the last few months publishing some of the same postings you see here except over there I also use my “other” name, Lisa Cooper.

You can see all the featured writers at The Apple listed here along with their bios. Scroll all the way down to find out more about me.

Head here to explore all The Apple has to offer.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Snippets

The Education Carnival is up for your reading pleasure over at Matthew Needleman’s site….Creating Lifelong Learners while the History Carnival made its appearance over at American Presidents. I’m a bit late with these links….Take pity on a recooping woman. :)

Last week my good blog friend Polski3 alerted me that this site may be loading s-l-o-w-l-y when you try to access it. I’ve noticed the site being a bit slow for me as well.

I’m sorry. It’s not my intention.

I visited and allowed their system to analyze my site. I found my images and exterior scripts might be slowing things down, so I’m planning on spending this week trying some changes. I’d love to convert to the layout style for Blogger….this template is written for Classic Blogger. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t. If you stop by and things look a little strange...well, now you will know why.

Finally, the particular lesson referenced below is one I wish I had thought of first……

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom. When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks. Looking around, confused, they asked, “Ms. Cothren, where’re our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me what you have done to earn the right to sit at a desk.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

Maybe it’s our behavior.

She told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren’s classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all of the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom. Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in the classroom. Now I’m going to tell you.”

Want to know the reason…..head here to learn more about a gutsy move by a gutsy teacher to help her students understand what the right to an education is all about.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wordless: Ship to Shore Connections

Question: How does this ship have a connection to Watergate?

Remember the name, Bob Woodward? Yep, he’s the guy along with Carl Bernstein that helped bring down the Nixon White House with their Washington Post stories involving the Watergate burglary.

But did you know…..

At one point young Bob Woodward served in the US Navy and the ship in the image above was his first of many posts…The USS Wright.

In the book Silent Coup by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin it is revealed that Lieutenant Woodward eventually ended up as a briefing officer for Admiral Moorer in 1969. Woodward was often doing Top Secret work as Admiral Moorer was then the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One of his assignments was to act as a briefer for Alexander Haig….Not sure who he was?

Alexander Haig was the Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs. Basically what this government-speak means is he was Henry Kissinger’s assistant in 1969. Later during the height of the Watergate mess Haig was Nixon’s Chief of Staff.

Kind of makes you wonder what sorts of things came up during those briefings between Woodward and Haig in the White House basement….In 1969, Woodward was basically a lackey in the Nixon Whitehouse, and by 1973 he was bringing the walls down around their ears.

Funny how things work out, huh? This also explains why many often mentioned Alexander Haig as a possible source for the infamous Deep Throat.

You can find other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

100,000 Visits! It's Happy Dance Time...

I reached a very important milestone here at History Is Elementary a little while ago….at 9:31 p.m. a reader from Beverly, Massachusetts visited this site first logging onto this post titled What’s In a Name? The subject involves the naming of America and how Amerigo Vespucci’s name is the textbook answer, yet there are other theories. Me being the me that I am I provide a possibility for you to ponder.

Then my new best friend from Beverly decided to click on the left-sidebar and peruse my answer to the question Is History Important?

Thank you to everyone who reaches me through email subscriptions, google searches, and all the other possible ways to read my meager offerings here.

100,000! Wow! That’s quite a large number.

The end of the school year always warrants a happy dance, but reaching a personal blog goal…..I think it’s worthy too.

Happy Dance! Happy Dance! Happy Dance! Happy Dance! Happy Dance!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Culture of No Fail Failure

This bailout thing has me pissed off…royally. How has the greatest nation on earth….the nation that can do anything….the nation that was forged when a group of so called rabble-rousers stood up to the King of England…the nation that mobilized one of the greatest fighting forces in history and defeated Hitler….the nation that walked on the Moon….the nation with grit, determination, and know how….how have we sunk to the point where we no longer allow failure?

Little Johnny has missed 90 days of school, but since “the test” will catch him next year he moves on ahead to fifth grade unprepared. I mean we wouldn’t want his little psyche hurt, would we?

Little Susie gets a trophy for cheering because…..well, she showed up to one of the three practices each week and well….all the kids should get a trophy so everything is fair.

The end of the school year finds me scrambling for award titles I can give certain students…..the students who don’t deserve one…..the students who have to receive an award because the administrator sends out a directive that “all students must receive an award” mainly so said administrator doesn’t have to deal with the student’s mom or dad (more than likely the reason behind why the kid doesn’t deserve one in the first place). These are the students who scream at me, the students who threaten me, the students who never complete an assignment, the student who I find on a daily basis hanging by one arm from the boy’s restroom ceiling, the student who bullies other students…..yeah, them. They get awards too, because….well, we need to be fair, remember?

What we are doing with this type of mentality is creating a culture where no one takes responsibility, the work ethic is basically left for dead along the highway, and then we all have the audacity to stand around, wring our hands and wonder why in the hell education in the United States isn’t improving.

In our (yes, I participate, but only because I’d lose my job if I didn’t) culture of never failing we are actually doing the opposite….we are failing, and we are doing a magnificent job of it.

So much so it has infiltrated the halls of higher education where students are ill-prepared, but walk about with an air of entitlement. Our no failure culture has crept into the business world because that’s were those entitled college and non-college students eventually end up.

….and now, our no fail culture has reached the hallowed halls of the US Capital. The banking firms that are being bailed out have known for months…several months things were going south. I mean, come on, you’re making money providing mortgages to folks with no….absolutely no qualifications. Why? Well, the non-working, non-asset holding public deserves a nice home in the suburbs. It’s a nice thing to do.

No job or a job barely making $25,000, barely a car, no savings, and bingo! You’ve hit the jackpot. You’re sitting pretty in a nice suburban home with three bedrooms, a front lawn, and a real driveway. Soon your neighbors get upset with you because your grass needs cutting, and they aren’t too happy about the cars lined up along the street because the driveway is for the grill and the parties, right? And suddenly those mortgage payments become due and as the months go by the payments begin to increase because you didn’t read the whole document. The cry goes out, “There ought to be a law….how dare those mean mortgage companies make people sign mortage deals they can’t handle?!?”

Then as the foreclosure signs go up and home after home on your street is abandoned and left derelect there comes the cry, “These people can’t help it. Something should be done to help them keep their home.” They have no responsibility for taking on a debt they couldn’t handle. Why? Well, why should they? I mean what’s government for….it’s there to help people, isn’t it? The government should make sure those people keep their homes.

….and now….

The banks can’t get rid of their foreclosed properties fast enough, the money that was supposed to come in from all of those fantastic sub-prime deals didn’t materialize (why would they think it would?), they’ve borrowed money from other financial institutions to stay afloat creating a house of cards that flew to the floor last week. Once again the cry rings out, “Oh my gosh….we can’t let them fail! Something must be done…..they must not have any responsibility in this. Why? Well, why should they?”

John Q. Public is ready and waiting to foot the bill. We pay taxes and don’t even realize we’re doing it since the government makes it easy on us by taking it from us before we actually get our paycheck and don't forget all of those little embedded taxes.

Funny though….if you really take a minute to notice…..the politicians are busy pointing to the folks on the other side as the culprits in the mess, but the only people taking the responsibility is the tax payer.

Until we understand as a nation that government is not there to wipe our rear ends, hand us a bottle, and burp us….until we understand as a nation that each of us holds the responsibility for our own version of the American dream….until we understand that as parents we, not the state, are responsible for our children’s education….until we understand that owning a home is not a right... it’s something we do when we can afford it… then this mess will continue.

Responsibility…..silly, silly word!