A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Open Source...the sequel!

Bloggers note: Okay, I just posted this and then read a friend's post from last month. He is a brilliant educator and I aspire to be as passionate, skilled and caring as Chad. READ his post...we have some similar ideas; I took mine inward-he took his outward to talk about a broken system. Brilliant work, Chad.

This picture has no real purpose other than to show I have two books on Lincoln. That makes me an expert, right?

In my last post, I talked about making my teaching more open sourced. two thoughts--one something which surprised me and one another example.

Point one:
It's funny, several people emailed or messaged me on social media that they thought I was being too hard on myself. They were very encouraging; saying that the way I taught was a nice blend of sage on the stage and guide on the side. A couple are people whose opinion I really, really value. I think I didn't do a good job explaining my pondering. I wasn't bashing myself; I was just wonder if I could do better and making the classroom more of a student-directed laboratory. The answer is yes. I am proud of my work as an educator, but I am always looking for ways to be better for my young charges.

Not only have I read two books on Lincoln, I have shopped at places which sell books on Lincoln. This is The Strand in NYC..

Point two:
For Lincoln's Birthday, Ford's Theater has been live tweeting a Q and A session between anyone on social media and themselves. Different staff members take the mic (so to speak) and spend an hour or two answering the questions that come in. As my students were researching their Civil War topics, several had questions they wanted to ask. It was completely organic and completely optional and completely awesome. Some of the questions, you ask?

  1. Who would be better at basketball--President Lincoln or President Obama? (Ford's said Lincoln but several of my students respectfully disagreed.)

  2. Was the stovepipe hat to cover a bump or scar on his head? (Ford's talked about the hat being one of his signature items--maybe a political gimmick. They even shared an article on the hat and its significance.)

  3. What was Lincoln's favorite color? (The staff person suggested blue but admitted it was their favorite color so maybe that 'colored' their evidence.) BTW-this kinda silly question led to an informal discussion of how a researcher's bias might affect the outcome.

  4. What was Lincoln's biggest fear? (Historians suggest that AL had a life-long battle with depression so fear and anxiety were no stranger to Mr. Lincoln.) It sets us up for a future discussion about the teeming masses expectations of a Kevlar President and the reality that they are all too flawed.

  5. What was L's take on God? This came from an 8th grader! (The response that followed was nuansed--Lincoln seems to evolve from New Salem and his debating society to the White House. Another article was suggested.) 

My favorite question of the day was one I poo poo-ed when it was suggested:

  1. Did AL have a pet turkey named Tom? (The answer is that it wasn't a pet but a gift for Thanksgiving Dinner and that his son's pled for its life--creating the annual turkey pardoning at which Sasha and Malia Obama were unfairly spanked by some Republican's this year. BTW-There is a great article about the incident from the Washington Post here. Enjoy.)
So, while researching something else...we covered turkeys, adolescence, basketball, fashion and mental illness. Not bad for a morning and social media.

This is Flat Stanley at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The painting is Thomas Hart Benton's Aeschylus and Hercules. We were talking about wrestling with the Civil War and Lincoln and I thought of this painting. After the first two, you gotta be excited that this one has even a scintilla of a reason to be on the page, right?

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