Stars, Stripes, and History

Posted on June 27, 2016

By Candy Jones-Guerin

Our Nation’s largest birthday celebration is just around the corner and we’re excited to get the party started!

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, we don our red, white, and blue to pay homage and celebrate with food, friends, and fireworks.

There are also a lot of lesser known facts about this important day. Take note of these and surprise whomever you celebrate with.

Did you know…

  • Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a “laptop,” which was a writing desk that could fit on one’s lap.
  • Including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, a total of three US presidents have died on July 4th. James Monroe is the third president to share this fate.
  • According to author Kenneth C. Davis, July 2nd is the real day of Independence, but it’s celebrated on the fourth because that’s when congress accepted Jefferson’s declaration.
  • Due to concerns about cracking the iconic instrument, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846. Instead, every year, to mark the Fourth of July, the 2,000-pound bell is tapped 13 times to signal for bells across the country to start ringing.

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What My Seventh Grader Taught Me About Google Classroom

Posted on June 15, 2016

By Traci Cothran

“Kids these days don’t know how good they have it.”  It’s an old adage, but I swear these days it really is true.  Long gone are the days of Wite-Out, word processors, having to visit the library to see if a book for class is available, and walking five miles through snow (barefoot!) to get to school.

The Google Classroom integration with Gale products only provides more fodder for this truism – as it makes life much more manageable for students.  Middle-grade students on up use Google Classroom to seamlessly to connect from home – or any other location via cellphone or tablet – to view classroom assignments, post their homework documents (in Word, Prezi or other software), and much more.  Kids can also access e-learning texts this way, along with reference databases from their library’s collection, and our Gale databases can easily be highlighted, cut and pasted, and cited, then uploaded to the student’s Google Drive account.  Easy-peasy!  Sure, my daughter still has print text books, but they are no longer the primary guide to classroom activities – teachers can (and do) easily use multiple sources for lessons.  It’s a Brave New World out there in education.

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New Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History: Lively, First Person, and Real

Posted on May 26, 2016

Primary sources have been called snippets of history – small windows that show a picture of one moment in time. A letter, a memoir, a personal account – each provides a unique, often personal perspective. And when they are put together in a meaningful way, they create a full and rich picture of historical events, people, and developments while supporting national learning standards.

By directly engaging with artifacts and individual records, students can explore, analyze, and delve more deeply into a topic.  In addition, primary sources help students:

  • Develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose, point of view, and more.
  • Pursue independent learning as they construct knowledge by interacting with sources that represent different accounts of the same event/topic.
  • Understand how viewpoints and biases affect interpretation of history.

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