Thursday, January 28, 2010

13 Facts About the Laws of Burgos, 1512-1513

1. Like many such proclamations and treaties the title…..Laws of Burgos…is based on a location. The document was formerly published in Burgos, Spain in 1512.

2. The laws were the first code of conduct governing how Native Americans should be treated in the Americas by Spanish foreigners in America.

3. At first the laws only included the island of Hispanola, but later Puerto Rico and Jamaica was included.

4. The laws addressed the mistreatment of natives and called for their conversion to Catholicism.

5. The laws were rarely enforced making the Laws of Burgos of little value.

6. The laws called for encomiendas…..a labor system where a Spanish citizen was granted a certain number of natives they became responsible for. Basically in exchange for religious instruction the receiver of the encomienda could exact tribute from the Natives including labor, gold or other products.

7. The laws were written due to the reports of Domingo de Mendoza, the cardinal archbishop of Seville regarding abuse of the American Indians.

8. The Laws of Burgos consists of 35 laws.

9. One of the laws regarding teaching the Native Americans about Christianity mandated they would be taught the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Articles of Faith, however, the 14th law stated the Natives had the right to perform their sacred dances.

10. The 2nd law is rather interesting…..”The Indians will leave their land voluntarily to come to the ecomiendas so that they shall not suffer from being removed by force.”

11. The 13th law involved gold….”Indians in an ecomienda must search for gold for five months a year and at the end of the five months are allowed to rest for 40 days.

12. The ecomienda system was not new to some of the Natives….the former Incan Empire had a similar system in their culture. Conquistadors and soldiers were not the only ones who maintained ecomiendas. Women and even some notable Native Americans maintained them including Montezuma’s daughters.

13. The sad thing is the Laws of Burgos did nothing to actually help Native Americans. It was just a first in a long series of empty gestures that took place over and over and over.

You can see the actual wording of the Laws of Burgos here.

Other bloggers participate in Thursday 13….you can find them here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Convoluted and Corrupt System

Ask students today to brainstorm a few adjectives to describe politicians and the words honest, trustworthy, and true will rarely come up. Descriptors that are provided over and over are crook, shady, and liar.

I have to wonder….is it the politician who is dishonest or does the dishonesty stem from such a convoluted and corrupt system that has been allowed to flourish?

In 1975, following President Nixon’s resignation from the White House, Americans were longing for a simpler time….a time when they felt they had a more honest relationship with the man inhabiting the White House.

Follow this link over to American Presidents for my post 1975: Nostalgic for Give ‘em Hell, Harry.

If I still haven’t gotten your attention then follow the link to discover what the band Chicago and Harry Truman have in common

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ring Around the History Topic: A Method of Review

What you see here is a little booklet a group of students created in my classroom once we completed our study of World War I. It’s very simple…just a ring binder and unlined index cards.

The activity begins by asking groups of students to review the notes in their notebook. Working with group members they should create a series of factual statements tracing the events of World War I. Statements should be fairly simple and straightforward.

The number of statements created should correspond to the number of students in the classroom. For this particular activity we needed 18 statements. Class size determines how many statements should be assigned. Now…..before you tell me how lucky I am that in this particular group I only had 18 students let me remind you that the actual class size was larger, but a few of my special needs students had been pulled out for the review and were working with the special needs teacher. Usually this activity would require 24 or 25 statements.

Once students work through their notes and determine which statements best illustrate the event we are studying they use chart paper to write their statements. Sometimes each group uses a different color to write their statements so that they can identify their work once the charts are hanging at various locations around the room.

Once all the charts are hanging up I ask students to grab a clipboard and walk the room. They should look for statements that are similar and statements that different. Do they see any statements that shouldn’t belong? Do they see any statements that don’t really get to the meat of the topic? I ask students to do this part of the activity on their own….no sharing.

Once students have had an opportunity to visit each chart I ask them to return to their original group. At that point they should share what they have discovered, and even it if means cutting out things from their own chart and adding statements from the other groups, they should arrive at a the best series of 18 statements they can.

Finally, I come into the picture. We tackle each statement number, and as a whole class we vote and decide which statement should number 1, number 2, number 3, etc. I write these on the board.

The next day I show students 18 index cards. Across the bottom of each card I have written one fact. On the back of each card I’ve recorded the number that corresponds to the fact. Each student is given one card at random. Their job at that point is to illustrate the fact as best they can.

What we finally end up with is a little booklet that tells the story in basic form regarding World War I. I’ve included our cards below. These little booklets really come in handy later in the year when we are reviewing even more content for that state test that looms in front of us every April.

Here are our little book pages....I've included the captions in case you can't make them. You can click on each page to make the picture larger.....

The causes of World War I were nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and a system of alliances.

Nationalism is having pride in your country. This can lead to “My country is better than your country.”
Imperialism….many countries like France and England made colonies out of other countries to have more power.
Militarism…to protect themselves and compete with each other many countries formed large armies.
Because so many countries were competing with armies and colonies they needed to develop friendships and alliances. “We will help each other if we are attacked.”

On June 28, 1914 events reached a boiling point when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Hungary was assassinated.

World War I was the first war where the tank and airplane was used.

Poison gas suffocated many soldiers.

Machine guns killed more soldiers than ever before.

Men lived, fought, and died in trenches. Each side was divided by no-mans land.

Germany knew they couldn’t defeat the British navy. They decided to form blockades and use u-boats to sink ships.

The U.S. was upset when Germany sank the ship, Lusitania. 128 Americans lost their lives.

President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on April 2, 1917. The U.S. was now in the fight.

In order to have enough soldiers President Wilson signed the Selective Service Act. Healthy unmarried men were drafted to fight.

With so many men fighting American women had to take over jobs that were normally held by men.
President Wilson created the Food Administration to encourage farmers to raise more food.

Americans planted victory gardens so more food could go to the soldiers.

Many Americans bought savings bonds to help pay for the cost of the war.

World War I finally came to an end on November 11, 1918 the day the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

I'd Like to Thank the Academy.....

Many thanks to the folks at Free.Edu for including History Is Elementary in their list of 100 Best Education Blogs.

It’s a fantastic list divided by educational topics. Also included in the category for history is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and Cardinal Woolsey’s Today in History.

Lots of other educational topics are included as well including education reform and technology.

Enjoy hunting for blogs you might not have found yet……

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Haiti Connection....A Poor Answer for the Slavery Issue

Haiti…it’s been a week and one day since the devastating earthquake and every day we hear more and more heartbreaking stories tempered with a triumph here and there.

As I write this post one major news outlet reports 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless….and now a second earthquake.


Haiti has had such a sad and terrible history considering certain accolades. Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America. The island-nation is the first black-led country in the world from post-colonial times, and Haiti has the distinction of being the only nation that gained independence as part of a successful slave rebellion.

Yet…..falling victim to such a horrific natural disaster isn’t the only time Haiti has fallen prey to hard times.

Times have always been hard for Haiti. The list is long, but to be brief I have to mention exploitation at the hands of the Spanish, the process of being racked with infectious diseases brought by the so-called civilized Europeans and the virtual rape of capital resources by Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier during recent times.

Economically, Haiti is the poorest country and least developed in the Americas. Most of Haiti’s citizens live on $2 or less per day making it is easy to see why the literacy rate is 50%. Sadly, the rampant poverty forces many of Haiti’s children to become unpaid house servants…virtual slaves.

…and Haiti even has a small foot-note in the history of the United States involving slavery, colonization, and Abraham Lincoln.

Liberia is the colony most often cited in American History textbooks, but what many don’t realize is a colony for freed slaves was proposed along the coast of Haiti….and by President Lincoln.

It was a scheme that the Lincoln approved of, but then had to back-track and totally repudiate.

See the whole story over at American Presidents here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK: A U2 Connection...Yes, U2....the Band

Isn’t this a great portrait of Dr King?

My friend, Tina Steele Lindsey created it to honor Dr. King for his birthday. You can view her artwork at her blog found here and website here.

I had been pondering all day yesterday regarding what I might post today for Dr. King’s birthday, and then I came across Tina’s portrait on Facebook as it rolled across my wall last night and some of the comments left there inspired me a bit.

The U2 song, (Pride) in the Name of Love was mentioned. Here are the lyrics:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

Notice the song discusses two men…..Dr. King is one of them.

Originally, the intention behind the song was to make a few points regarding President Ronald Reagan and his pride regarding the military might of the United States.

However, the lead singer for U2, Bono, changed the intended focus for the song after reading Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Stephen B. Oates as well as a biography of Malcom X.

Bono became fascinated by the opposite methods of fighting for civil rights…..the non-violent and violent….which is very clear from the lyrics.

One little correction needs to made with the song lyrics, however. The line “Early morning, April 4” referring to Dr. King’s death is incorrect since he was assassinated in the evening. It would be interesting to allow students to review the accounts of Dr. King’s death and then have them peruse the song lyrics to discover the error. Bono often corrects the lyrics when he sings the song live.

Unfortunately, critics panned all of the lyrics. Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone said, “’Pride’ gets over on the strength of its resounding beat and big, droning bass line not on the nobility of its lyrics which are unremarkable.”

In fact, even Bono stated…..”It’s just a load of vowel sounds ganging up on a great man.”

Well, that’s their opinions. I think the song is worthy to include with any lesson or unit of study regarding Dr. King….especially when we remember his birthday.

Here is a great video I found online at YouTube which combines actually footage and images of Dr. King along with other Civil Rights Era images with the U2 song as the background music:

Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

And thanks again to my friend, Tina for her wonderful portrait.

Here are two past articles I’ve written concerning Dr. King you might be interested in:

Get Off the Beaten Path: MLK's India Connection

MLK: It Should Be About How He Lived

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Christmas Mystery at the White House

As my regular readers know I contribute articles to American Presidents Blog and for that reason I became interested in researching and writing about the yearly White House Christmas card that have been sent out by each president since the 1950s when it became an official practice of each administration.

So, last month I once again began my search for the first card of the Obama administration. It’s been difficult to say the least, and I’ve found a little art mystery as well that has really challenged my research abilities.

First off….even several days into December the only image I could find was the a picture of the inside of the card showing the sentiment and signatures. I’ve posted it below.

Of course, I’m a traditional kind of girl, so in keeping with tradition here at History Is Elementary you will have to follow me over to American Presidents to discover more about this past season’s card and the art mystery I discovered within the White House walls.

It truly astounds me that a painting has been so grossly misidentified.

Past articles of mine regarding the White House Christmas greetings can be found here, here, here, and I’m still looking for that original Wyeth painting that was used for the Nixon Christmas card from 1971. It’s also a mystery…..

Thursday, January 07, 2010

13: Gargoyles, Grotesques, and Chimeras.....Oh My!

1. While I was roaming around Biltmore over New Years I became enthralled with the ornamentation found everywhere along the 780-foot façade. I love to take close-up pictures of architectural details, and Biltmore provides me with all sorts of delights.

2. One of the things that Mr. Elementaryhistoryteacher and I focused on were the many gargoyles on the house. The word ‘gargoyles’ is derived from an old French word gargouille, meaning throat. The English words gargle, gurgle, and gargoyle are derived from gargouille.

3. Some believe that gargoyles – sometimes called grotesques – are inspired by the skeletal remains of prehistoric dinosaurs and other fossils. Originally a gargoyle was considered a waterspout, directing water away from a building.
Yes, I agree.....the figure below seems rather proud of his ummmm.....attributes.

4. Technically an architect calls a waterspout on a building a gargoyle. It a stone carving does not carry water and has a face that resembles a creature, it is technically called a grotesque.

5. Many people believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil in an imperfect world.

6. The creatures - gargoyles, grotesques, and chimeras - that decorate the façade of Biltmore House are fantastic, frightful, and fanciful. They lurk in virtually every nook and cranny from parapets, upper balconies and slither from the groins of the ornately arched windows.

7. Why are they there? Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of Biltmore, took cues from the French renaissance and Gothic styles….The influence is evident in the proliferation of curious creatures that embellish it; gargoyles have been fixtures on the cathedrals, public buildings and grand homes of Europe for centuries.

8. The masons of the Middle Ages expanded on this theme by introducing non-functional decorative elements depicting animals and humans in a grotesque (and often humorous) style, or letting their imaginations run wild with chimeras: mythical beasts that combined elements from various creatures. The gryphon, which has the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, is a well-known example.

9. The monsters that adorn Biltmore House were actually dreamed up by Mr. Hunt’s architectural team.

10. Plaster prototypes of each individual statue were provided to the project’s master stone carvers, who had been imported from major cities such as New York and Chicago.

11. Working in a tent city set up for the construction crew on the estate’s esplanade, the carvers defined the basic contours of the Indian limestone sculptures on the ground, and they finessed the detail in place on the façade.

12. The home’s minor grotesques give us a glimpse of the individual style of the anonymous makers.

13. Major works, such as the two fearsome sentinels that overlook the main entrance, were executed to the architect’s specifications…..

The text for this post was taken from this article and this article.

Other bloggers participate in Thursday Thirteen as well… can locate them here

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bespoken Blacksmiths

Vocabulary is key when teaching any subject from Math (integer….diameter….cotangent ) to Science (antimatter…circuit…velocity) from Language Arts (compound sentence…simile…alliteration) to Social Studies ( amendment…capital resources…inalienable). If students are unable to master and manipulate the subject’s vernacular they will encounter difficulty reading various texts, understanding their notes, and once April rolls around the student might not be able to understand the questions on the all important state mandated test.

Vocabulary acts as the foundation for each instructional unit. In fact, Marzano contends in his book Building Academic Vocabulary (2005), “…students in the 50th percentile in terms of ability to comprehend the subject matter taught in school, with no direct vocabulary instruction, scores in the 50th percentile ranking. The same student after specific content-area terms have been taught in a specific way, raises his/her comprehension ability to the 83rd percentile.”

Yes, specific content-area vocabulary instruction IS very important.

Once students begin to study the English colonies the vocabulary list takes on a who’s who of colonial founders and governors along with words like indigo, indentured, and apprentice, but tucked away within the list is a great word……the word artisan.

An artisan is someone who works with his or her hands to create a product. Prior to the Industrial Revolution artisans produced goods using creative thinking and took great pride in the products they produced. If they didn’t…well, their customer base would suffer, and they wouldn’t be very successful. Knowing the customer’s needs and keeping them happy with quality work was very important.

In fact, the work of the blacksmith was bespoken meaning he only worked at the request of others.

One type of colonial artisan I like to spotlight for students is the blacksmith, and the why behind my choice is very simple. Of all the craftsmen that came to the New World the blacksmith was the most important. In fact, other types of craftsmen couldn’t have done the things they did without the help of a blacksmith.

A blacksmith forges and shapes iron with an anvil and hammer.

This article explains how the blacksmith makes the anvil sing an ancient hammer language. ”It’s a 50-part language that’s tapped out on the anvil….It’s the first thing an apprentice learns, because it’s the language that the master uses to converse with the strikers (helpers). The anvil makes a different sound depending upon where the hammer strikes. The apprentice knows where to hit the metal on the anvil based upon the “song” the master plays.”

Not only is there a special language within the singing of the blacksmith’s hammer the color of the heated metal also has a language of its own. Since early blacksmiths had no thermometer to gauge the temperature of the heated metal they learned how to judge the color. The color provides the information they need to determine when the metal is ready to twist and turn. This is the main reason most blacksmith shops are dimly lit so that the blacksmith can see the fired metal.

Hmmmm….it would seem that the blacksmith has his own content-area vocabulary….language that involves two of his five senses including observation and hearing.

Over the New Year’s holiday I got the chance to see a true blacksmith in action at the Horseshoe Bend area of the Biltmore Estate. Doc W. Cudd, Jr. (seen in my pictures with this article) gave an excellent demonstration in his smithy shop, found in the property’s 1902 horse barn, that enthralled a crowd of young and old alike. He explained that over the last 450 years there has always been at least one blacksmith in his family.

From this article I discovered that Doc Cudd received his first anvil at age 9, and began apprenticing under his dad and great uncle at age 10. After progressing to journeyman, he passed an intense test—just one portion took 18 hours—and became a blacksmith in 1995.

The article continues…."When people come see me at the barn, I always want them to feel like they're sitting on my front porch," he says. His rapport with guests is evident—he has a collection of 150 pictures that guests have sent him commemorating their River Bend Barn visit."

As I entered the smithy shop it was a tight fit as folks had stopped in and decided to stay awhile to listen to the demonstration. It is clear to this teacher that Mr. Cudd loves his profession and not only is he a master blacksmith, but he’s a master teacher as well. Passion is the true ingredient for any teacher …..and it is so very evident with Mr. Cudd.
Mr. Cudd puts the capital "A" in the word Artisan.

I witnessed Mr. Cudd creating one of his signature key rings….a key ring that is sold in the barn’s gift shop… the end of his demonstration he presented it and held it aloft so we could all see it.

and yes, Mr. Elementaryhistoryteacher just had to have one.
We might just have to "throw-down" over who gets to carry it.

The poem, The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow can be found here

A video created in 1893 titled “Blacksmith Scene” can be found here. It was first kinetoscope shown in public exhibition and was created through the Thomas Edison Laboratory. The Library of Congress selected this video clip for preservation by the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

A great little sample chapter regarding content-area vocabulary instruction can be found here, and a slide-show featuring Marzano’s findings regarding vocabulary instruction can be seen here