Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


King Hutch back in the Saddle Again!!!

June 15, 2014

Yes it’s been years since I’ve posted any of my trips. Since my 2010 NY trip I’ve been busy. I’ve traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast and even into Canada. Mid summer 2010 we went to Florida for teacher training and fun. Then late summer 2010 we drove to Scottsbluff to the Badlands to Fort Laraime. In 2011 & 2013 we went on two 5000 mile “roadtrip” up to the Pacific Northwest. In 2012 we flew to NYC and spent 4 days there then traveled to Philly…Gettysburg/ Hershey/ Harper’s Ferry/ Jamestown/ Baltimore/ & Washington DC. 2013 we traveled to Branson/ Springfield to Memphis and New Orleans. Both my wife and I are teachers and our goal is to visit and learn about every state in the Union within the next few years.

But tomorrow I have another “Trip of a Lifetime” to New York for 10 days. It will bring back memories as well as unleash new adventures with 30 history teachers. Watch out… The King is Back and RIDES AGAIN!!!


New York – New York: Reflections on my 4th Historical Trip of a Lifetime!

June 25, 2010

Wow, I can’t believe it’s over already. Two weeks in New York studying, living, experiencing, and learning about the great state of New York and its impact on the history of our country. So before I go any further I want to take a moment and again give a great big thanks to Scott Whited, Matt Harris, and Jonathan Rees who put this program together. Without your skill and dedication towards the teaching of history none of this would have been possible. This New York trip, just as the others to Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago was marvelous!

As in past years we are required to take some time and reflex on our trip and how it will make us better teachers of America history. I have spent the last few days in deep thought, almost in a trance like state (although my exhaustion from being on such a non stop and exciting trip had nothing to do with this daze) thinking about how I could best answer this question in a blog. Well it is now time to spill the beans and expose this New York trip for what it was! Are you ready, sitting on the edge of your seats with anticipation of what I have to say? If you are, then keep on reading. If not, then get a life and go explore New York for yourself. Since I am somewhat sure that almost everyone reading this blog already has a life I will continue with the expectation that you are continuing to read. So now, for all you “blog stocking history maniacs and what-to-be historians,” here it is straight from my heart, the official final reflexive blog of the 2010 Exploring New York History Trip. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed my time in New York!

What exactly can I say about this trip to New York? The Teaching American History Grant has been so phenomenal over these last four years allowing me, as well as 29 other teachers, to experience history in a way that I would never have been able to otherwise! As educators who teach about history, how can we not benefit from visiting and experiencing those things we instruct over? I spent an entire year looking forward to this trip to New York! What a great opportunity it turned out to be. This past year I had the pleasure of teaching 4 elective history classes covering immigration and 2 elective classes covering the Revolutionary War. What I received in New York was a chance to experience for myself so many of these places that I have taught about but had never visited for myself. This knowledge and understanding will make me a better teacher of American history as I am able to pass along this information as well as images to my students.

I talked with many of the teachers in our group and the overwhelming opinion was that the experience at Ellis Island was the best of the best! I have studied, read about, written about, and taught several classes focusing on Ellis Island. I was so excited the day we finally jumped on the ferry for Ellis Island. But I had no idea that stepping onto this island/ museum, dedicated to immigration and the millions of lives it touched, would impact me the way it did. It is a rare few indeed who have the opportunity that we got by walking the halls and buildings so long ago abandoned. It was a sometimes eerie feeling that overtook me as we looked at the hospital ward, especially the building where terminally ill people were sent to die peacefully as long as their money didn’t run out, or sent back to their native lands if they didn’t have the money.

Not only were we given a “behind the scenes tour” of the facility, but we were also exposed to several hands-on teacher activities as well as a stick drive full of primary and secondary sources and lesson plan ideas.  Then there was the Great Hall building which was amazing! I was really impressed by the baggage exhibit and the different methods (traditional, 3-deminional, interactive) that this museum presented the all the diverse timelines. The exhibits in the many rooms were filled with so many fantastic displays of immigration that it almost takes your breath away thinking about the many ways that immigrants have influenced our country! As I left the island it was easy to imagine all the diverse people from so many nations, of so many colors, speaking so many languages, bringing so many traditions to the “Land of Hope” dreaming of a new life in the “Land of the Free!”

What a great idea it was to go to both Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty on the same day! This jam packed day would see my heart beat excitedly as we neared “Lady Liberty.” We walked around the entire statue as I took pictures from every possible angle. We saw and yelled “I love you Matt” at Matt Damon who was filming a movie while we were there. My main disappointment was not getting to go inside and up the statue. The Tenement Museum tied right into this immigration experience. It was incredible walking into these rooms that are set up exactly as immigrant families used them. I know that I will be better able to tell the true story of immigration and with a greater passion now that I have experienced these sites in New York City!

There were so many more highlights of our trip that I could go on for days! At first I thought that all the daylong tours we took were overkill. After all, New York is such a big city and there was so much we could see. I thought to myself that I could spend 4-5 weeks studying and touring New York and still not be satisfied. But the bus tour and the three walking tours around the boroughs of New York were great and filled with information about the growth of New York City. In fact, it was during the third day of the walking tours that I finally and fully understood just how important New York City was to the development of our country!

Experiencing a live Broadway play was something I will always remember but if I ever do it again I will watch a more “manly” play other than Mary Poppins! Going to a game in the new Yankee Stadium was a must even though the wrong team won! Times Square was incredible with so many people out at night and the city all aglow in light! How about Chinatown and Little Italy for a cultural experience? Eating different types of food that I normally wouldn’t brought me out of mt comfort zone. Seeing and walking around Times Square was a great experience with all its lights, bustle, and glitter that forever stay in your mind. All the walks through the boroughs and neighborhoods such as Five Points, Chinatown, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and lunch in Little Italy–how can you compare that to anything else?

These four trips (Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and now New York) that I’ve been on have been incredible! They have helped bring me much needed knowledge and understanding of places that I would never have been able to do on my own. It is sad to have this grant come to an end since it has feed me with so much love for travel and hands on learning about our history. I am writing this blog from Oregon where I am still experiencing first hand about America’s history. Our four trips have been exciting, informative, and full of action and adventure. But I think the best thing to come out of these trips have been all the lesson ideas that our presenters have given to us. American history teachers experiencing American history first hand with each of our five senses, it doesn’t get any better than that. All I can ask of myself now is to make sure that I take all the information and knowledge I’ve received and use it wisely in the classroom. If I do that right then hopefully I can help many students learn to love history!


New York-New York

June 15, 2010

New York, New York, what a wonderful experience! The Southern Colorado History Teacher’s whirlwind tour is winding down. We have Saratoga and Fort Ticonderoga today, the post office and airport tomorrow and then home!

Well were do we begin today’s history lesson? After along-long drive we arrived at Fort Ticonderoga around 11:00 am. We first we met our tour guide who explained the history behind the fort. The name “Ticonderoga” means “Land between the Waters.” This fort has history in the French and Indian War as well as the Revolutionary War. It was built by the French to defend and repel any attack or invasion by British forces from the sea.

Monument to the Brave French Forces who Defeated to Stronger British Force

In 1756 British General Amherst led 16,000 men against the defending French force of around 3,500.  It was here that the myth was formed of the “impenetrable and undefeatable” fort. The French met and defeated the overwhelming yet poorly led British. The French would abandon the fort to the British in 1759 after blowing up the powder magazine leaving the British to rebuild and occupy it.  

The British would control the fort until the Revolutionary War when Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold raided the fort and took it without losing a single man. The forts reputation of being impenetrable led to its downfall. The British left a single sentry on duty and the Americans charged though the open date. It was a spectacular early victory for the Americans in their quest for independence.

The Americans thought that Mount Defiance which stood to the fort’s south was too steep to scale and put cannons on it. But General Burgoyne ordered cannons put in place saying “Where a man can go a mule can go and where a mule can go cannons can go.” When the Americans saw that the British had succeeded in placing cannons in that strategic location they decided to abandon the fort without a shot. Both the American Generals in charge of the fort and the theater of war were relieved of command because of this event, in spite of this choice being the best military decision possible.

Next it was off on a two hour ride to Saratoga Battlefield. British General Burgoyne believed that the Hudson River Valley was the major strategic artery of the northeastern area in America. This was the centerpiece of the British plan in 1777. This plan called for his army to move south from Canada through this area to Albany, New York. A smaller force led by Colonel St. Leger was to march east from Lake Ontario and meet in Albany. This force would then join up with General Howe Headquartered in New York City and put down the rebellion.

But Howe moved his force to the Patriot capital at Philadelphia. Therefore those troops which should have been available to support Burgoyne were unavailable. Burgoyne’s force consisted of 4,200 British regulars, 4,000 German soldiers fighting for the British, and about 1,000 loyalists, Indians, and Canadians. The 1st major objective was Fort Ticonderoga which fell on July 6. Then moving south the British were slowed by rough terrain and American delaying tactics led by General Philip Schuyler.

Colonel St. Leger then stopped his advance in order to lay siege to the American position at Fort Stanwix. When he learned that General Benedict Arnold was leading a rescue force for the Americans he dropped his siege and retreated towards Canada. Another British force of 900 men was almost wiped out.

Ignoring these British setbacks, Burgoyne decided to push on towards Albany. On September 13th the British crossed the Hudson River and found an American force of roughly 9000 men entrenched at Bemis Heights 4 miles north of Stillwater village. The road to Albany squeezed through an opening between the hills and the river and the Americans artillery commanded any approach.The British had two choices; they could either run the gauntlet or attempt to drive the Americans out of their defensive positions. They chose to fight.

The Battle of Saratoga was actually two battles fought about three weeks (18 days) apart on September 19 and October 7, 1777. Together these battles are regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought on the same ground just nine miles south of Saratoga New York. The first battle called The Battle of Freeman’s Farm swayed back and forth for over 3 hours. The British lines began to falter before the arrival of German forces turned the tide and forced an American withdraw. This was a small tactical victory for the British but it came at a cost of very high causalities. Shaken by the tough victory Burgoyne ordered his men to entrench and wait for reinforcements which would not come.

After nearly 3 weeks the situation was dire for the British due to dwindling supplies and the arrival of new America troops to the area. Faced with the decision of advance or retreat Burgoyne chose to advance. On October 7th the British sent out a reconnaissance in force to test the American left flank. The Americans attacked in 3 columns at around 3 pm. Both British flanks were driven back and before they could rally General Benedict Arnold rode onto the field and led one American Brigade commanded by General Learned against the Germans in the center of the British line forcing a general withdraw from the Freeman farm.

The Americans, seeing success attacked in force after several savage attacks against the Balcarres Redoubt on the Freeman farm, the Germans collapsed. Only darkness ended the fighting and saved the British from immediate disaster. The British left their campfires burning to mask their withdraw as they began their retreat northward. They had suffered 1000 causalities against the Americans 500. After a tough march in rain and mud the British camped at the fortified position on the heights near Saratoga. It was here that an American Army of over 17,000 men surrounded the exhausted British and forced them to surrender on October 17, 1777.  

Saratoga became one of the most decisive victories in American and world history! News of Burgoyne’s surrender was instrumental in formally bringing France into the war as an American ally. French formal participation changed the war to a global conflict. This battle also resulted in Spain contributing to the war on the American side.

Today was one of the golden days for me n this trip. It has been circled on my calendar along with the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty and Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame days. And in this respect it did not disappoint! I am a Revolutionary War buff which seems strange for someone from Colorado. We do not cover this war or this era in the manner that we should in Colorado. I can understand the reasoning since we are a western state and Colorado was still occupied by Native Americans along with a few Spanish at this time in history. But it is an extremely important part of our history as a nation.

I grew up moving and living in different parts of the country (and world for that matter) since my dad was in the Air Force. I believe that this is the reason that I appreciate all areas and time periods of our history. I actually lived in upper state New York for 4 months when I was in the 4th grade. We covered this period of American history and I loved it. We went to a Colonial town/fort (I don’t remember it’s name) where they dressed in character and ran it as if they were living in that time much like Sturbridge Village or the Farmer’s Museum.

It is extremely important for our students make connections with the past. We watched several groups of students at Fort Ticonderoga as they reacted and interacted together. I was amazed at how excited they were, running around with there newly purchased muskets, long rifles, pistols. They held impromptu mock battles and showed a real enthusiasm for being there. Isn’t that what history should be about, excited to learn about our past, learning about all the people who have sacrificed so that we can be free, discovering that history can and should be fun?

I know Pueblo does have lots of places such as the El Pueblo Museum, the Aircraft Museum, the railroad Museum, and the Steel Mill museum just to name a few where kids can learn about the past and also have fun. But what a blast it would be to bring a group of kids out east so they can discover for themselves about this area and it’s historic past. We are planning on bringing a group of 20 – 30 students to New York and Washington D. C. next summer. After visiting these two historic battlefields today I will do everything I can to add them to our trip’s itinerary!


Matt’s Get Up and Go-Go Day

June 14, 2010
You are Bearly far from my heart! 🙂

One look at this title will explain a lot of the day. We were up and running before the break of dawn. It was so early that the rooster was still asleep. I mean, “Holy bus tour Batman,” who’s idea was this 7:00 am departure anyway? Don’t you realize that 7 am is 5:00 am Mountain Standard Time and after all, isn’t that what really matters! So to get up and ready for a 7 am (I mean 5 am) I had to wake by 5:30 am which after all is really 3:30 am. Now the way I see it that’s just way too early for anyone in their right mind! So coming to the conclusion that nobody on this “Magical History Bus Tour” is really in a proper state of mind,  I got up and got on my way!  

King Hutch supporting Women's rights 🙂

Our 1st stop was at Seneca Falls where Elizabeth Cady Stanton challenged Americans in 1848 to social revolution with a list of demands that touched just about every aspect of life. This convention was intended to bring clarity and purpose to the lack of rights that women held during this time. They wrote a document called “The Declaration of Sentiments” in which they took the Declaration of Independence, selectively changed the wording, and attempted to show that women were unjustly injured and held down by the males held the traditional role of dominance in the world.

I was somewhat disappointed by this site. Part of the problem was that the church where the convention actually happened is undergoing repairs and was not open for us. So close and yet so far. Just that one thing, not being able to walk into and see and touch for myself this important part of American Civil Right’s history was sad.  Next we were off to the Elizabeth Cody Stanton house. Again I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of historical impact this place made with me. It was just a house with very little in it.  Next we traveled to the M’Clintock House and another round of disappointment. Maybe I was just expecting too much. But the morning just seemed like not much was learned and there was such little impact for such an important part of American history!  

Inside the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House



After a box lunch on the bus we arrived at the William H. Seward. House which was loaded with historical stuff! There were pictures covering every wall almost top to bottom. Seward was the Secretary of State for both Presidents Lincoln and Johnson. He was the man responsible for buying Alaska from Russia. He believed in peaceful, negotiated settlements. There were historical artifacts such as a bloody cloth from Steward’s near assassination. And there were seemingly meaningless (unless you are an historian) stuff like hundreds of ½ smoked cigars. The problem was we were not allowed to take any pictures in the house. This picture taking nonsense has been an issue for much of the trip and I want to thank the trusting institutions who have allowed us to photograph within their walls. It is the photographs that help teachers to connect the events with our students! But the guide who took us through this house was extremely knowledgeable and I would have loved to spend more time here.       

William H. Seward House









After leaving the Seward House we traveled to the Harriet Tubman Home. She was a black woman born into slavery around the year 1822. In 1849 she escaped north to Philadelphia. From there she made her way to New York and into Canada. But she was very concerned with her brethren still enslaved. She decided that something had to be done to help. So she made many trips into the south to help rescue them. Mostly done under the cover of darkness at night, she had no protection other than her awareness and wits. She was so hated by many southern slave-owners who offered rewards for her. All her rescue trips were done through the “Underground Railroad” and method of helping free slaves by using continuously changing hiding places. She even served as a union spy, cook, scout, and nurse during the civil war. What a terrific American hero! Again we had issues with no pictures inside the home even though I think I noticed a few people sneeking pictures anyway!

Harriet Tubman Home


And so finally we made our way to the Erie Canal. This is a waterway that stretches 363 miles from Albany New York to Buffalo New York at Lake Erie. The canal completes a navigable water route that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It took over 8 years to complete due largely to the fact that most of the work was backbreaking hard labor. The canal opened in 1825 and allowed transportation costs to drop by 95%. It also led to a population boom in western New York as well as migration into formerly wilderness parts of what is now the Midwest. It was incredible to see these locks of the canal at work. They open and the boat enters. Next the lock is flooded. It takes about 5-6 minutes to complete this process and then the gates open and the boat is on it’s way! Ow great it was to experience this and I wish my students could have been here with me. There is a great web site that Dr. Harris recommended we look at before the trip. I had my students work on the site for two days. It is very user friendly and the kids really liked the primary source documents and the inquiry questions that went with them. The only drawback was that there is no place to save your work so you better finish and print the papers in one setting or you lose it all!    

Here is the link to the Erie Canal web site that Dr. Harris recommended:


The Baseball Hall of Fame: A Cultural History of America

June 13, 2010

Baby Bear Loving Cooperstown & You! 🙂

This morning we were up at the crack of dawn for a trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. This has been almost a year of lobbying for this day. Too often I have hear that this has nothing to do with history. Many people think that baseball is not history. But I have always said that history is all around us. A basic definition of history could be that it is a record or narrative description of past events. These events can be major like war, politics, or migration. They can also be lesser but just as important events such as technology, art, and economics. In fact, history is everything that happens around us. By tracing the history of baseball we can reveal and hopefully better understand the culture of America and influences that helped create that culture!

Babe Ruth

The question of who invented baseball and where it began has been the subject of debate and controversy for more than a century. Almost certainly, baseball was developed from old folk games. The roots of baseball are thought to be English. Americans played a version of the English game called rounders in the early 1800s which they called “Town Ball.” In fact, early forms of baseball had a number of names, including “Goal Ball,” “Round Ball,” “Fletch-catch,” and “Base.” In one version of the game, the teams pitched to themselves and runners went the opposite direction around the bases. Some versions even had rules that allowed players to be called out by being hit with the ball. Few details of how the modern games developed from earlier folk games are known.

Abner Doubleday

The myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839 was once widely promoted and believed. But there is no evidence for this claim, except for the testimony of one man Named Abner Graves decades later. This idea of Doubleday’s invention was actually spurred on by baseball itself which, in order to settle this question appointed the Mills Commission in 1905. The Mills Commission concluded that baseball had been invented by Doubleday at Cooperstown, New York in 1839 and that Doubleday invented the name baseball, designed the diamond, indicated fielder positions, written down the rules and decided the field regulations. However, no written records from 1839 or the 1840s have ever been found to corroborate these claims. The Baseball Hall of Fame is on record as saying that “Baseball wasn’t really born anywhere,” meaning that the evolution of the game was long and continuous and has no clear, identifiable single origin.

Just as our nation has faced many issues, understanding the factors, conditions, and the background of these issues is important. There are many ways to understand what was happening in our country from the late 1800’s up to the present. One way is to look at the evolution of baseball and look for patterns. One huge and noticeable pattern was racial segregation of minorities, especially blacks up through the Civil Rights Movement. Baseball was like most other businesses and much of the country in this aspect. Jackie Robinson was the first African American Major League baseball player of the modern era. He broke the baseball “Color Line” in 1947 when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers. This overcoming the “Color Line” barrier was mirrored throughout the nation as America went through the Civil Rights Movement and demand foe equality for all.     

But Blacks had been playing baseball for years. Since they could not play in the Major Leagues they had their own league. Many players who were excellent players never got the chance because of the culture and society of America that treated these men as second class citizens. Thank God there were those who cared enough to fight for their rights. Women were also treated in a manner as second class citizens. They were not allowed to play baseball just as most women were expected to stay at home and raise a family. But things all changed with World War II. Just as Rosie the Riveter when to work so that millions of men could join the Armed Forces and save freedom throughout the world, so did many women join the “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943 to 1954. Pioneering women decided that they deserved a chance to play in the “all boys” game and fought for equal rights. This movement would mirror an feminist idealism taking place throughout America and eventually leveling the playing field to a more manageable degree. 

Today the fight for equality and justice continues in baseball and America. Players from other countries strive to make something out of themselves. Just as immigrants throughout our nation’s history have come over to America for opportunities, these players from Latin America, Cuba, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Central America, and South America have come looking to America as the land where hopes and dreams can be found!

History can be found everywhere. For those who don’t think that baseball is really history, open your eyes. Study the trends and events surrounding baseball and you will find a cultural mirror of the history of our nation we all love!

Teacher PD Time

Probably the best part of this time at the Baseball Hall of Fame was in the morning when we learned about all the lesson plans that the museum has dealing with everyday issues in American life! These lessons are easy to assess and they even have a distance learning program if the schols/districts pay for the equipemnt and fees. 

We did do more than just “Cooperstown.” After lunch we went to the Fenimore Art Museum where our guide for the day “No-Showed” us. So we were off to explore the vast holdings of the museum on our own. Never do that to teachers! Many of our group got “yelled” at, well maybe explained to that certain areas were off limits to pictures. Oh well, the guide should have been there!

Farmers Museum

 Next we went to the Farmers Museum across the street. This was much nicer with lots of buildings set in an early 1800’s setting. It reminded me of a Sturbridge Village “Want – to – be!” I enjoyed learning about how medicine was made and the leaches he pulled out were nasty. But the coolest thing was the 30+ teachers who all (except Howard) climbed up on the antique Carousal and role the colorful animals around in circles!  


On Our Way to an UPPER STATE (NY) Of MIND!

June 13, 2010

I will "Bear" it out a few more days! 🙂

Well today we left the “Big Apple” or “Big Oyster” or “Big Tune” or whatever New York City nickname you use and headed upstate. Many in our group are disappointed that we are leaving the big city but I am ready. This has just been an incredible experience and I learning so much that wil help be become a better teacher. But it is time to move on! vThere is history in more places than just New York Cityu and I want to experience those too!

I titled this shot: "Mirror Image" Even though one is younger, cuter, balder, and smarter!

The first stop of the day was at Sagamore Hill, the 23 room Victorian mansion that Theodore Roosevelt built on Cove Neck in Oyster Bay. Before construction of the house could begin TR’s wife died of Bright’s disease (kidney disease) just two days after giving birth to their first child. His mother died that same day which must have devastated him emotionally. TR’s sister moved into the newly completed home in 1885 with the baby while TR divided his time between the house and North Dakota.

TR remarried to a childhood friend Edith Kermit Carow in 1886 and they moved into the mansion where they spent their lives except for absences due to his public career. Sagamore was the center of much of the daily presidential affairs from 1902 – 1909. Three of his children were born at Sagamore. In 1919, TR died during his sleep from complications associated with a blood clot. He was only 60 years old. His wife Edith lived at Sagamore until her death in 1948 at age 87.

The Ice House

Sagamore Hill is a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service. There are over 6000 books in the house which reflect his love for reading. He wrote over 30 separate volumes of history, biographies, memoirs and the sort. He felt that reading was very important to leading a good life, so much so that his children were expected to read a book a day once they reached a certain age. If they failed to do so or were not ready to discuss their readings, they would not be allowed to eat with the family and would wait and eat with the servants.

This Estate representing the life of Theodore Roosevelt’s life was great. I just wish we were allowed to act like responsible adults and take pictures without the flash. There was so much to see inside the house that can never be described accurately without pictures. My favorites were the Gun Room, the library which also served as TR’s office, the drawing room which was Mrs. Roosevelt’s area, and the spacious dinning room. Many in the group, myself included felt like this site was much better and informative to history teachers than the Franklin Roosevelt site at Hyde Park.

TR's Grave

After leaving Sagamore Hill went visited the gravesite of Theodore Roosevelt (turns out he did not like being called Teddy) then ate a nice lunch and on the road again, headed upstate! As we drove I had visions, more like flashbacks of the 4 months I lived in upper state New York (Newburg) in the 4eth grade. The ride was so lush, so green, so full of life. There were many small ponds and I saw several birds swoop in, fishing I suppose? There were green fields and farms intermingled among the patches of trees. There are many meandering creeks and brooks cutting through the fields alongside the road. The green reminded me of the lower mountains and foothills of Colorado with the thick, green forests. But something is different and his is where the Geography in me kicked it.

The difference seems to be location and variety. Here in upper state New York it is very green and full of thick forests. I remember playing in a semi forest just off our back yard. We walked through a path in this forest to school and crossed over a creek along the way. But as we traveled by bus I noticed that we were basically traveling a flat path. In Colorado you would be up and down throughout the mountains to get a view as spectacular as this. There were rolling hills around us on each side, just no climbing as we drove through the land. The trees were different too. In the Colorado Mountains we basically have evergreens (pine trees) and aspens. Out here in upper state New York they have a wide variety of multitude trees. I remember the fall time in New York. There were so many different colors of leaves, reds and purples, and oranges, and yellows, and greens! Yes, this emotion did flood back through me as I thought about the beautiful land of you youth.

Then my Geographic background kicked in. I have taught geography for many years and I also taught Earth Science before too. I did notice several rock formations at where sedimentary in nature. I began to wonder how the land was formed. Had this once been an ocean? Did the sea recede or did geographic forces lift the land. I began to study the landscape and noticed evidence of glaciers with round U shaped valleys and rounded off hills indicating an older area of land with much erosion. How fun it would be to bring kids from Colorado here to explore, learn about, and discover a new world of history, geography, and culture of the diverse and exciting area.   

Dinner before Blogging! 🙂 😦 8)


More Lesson Ideas and Museums Galore!

June 13, 2010

Hello Baby from Bear & Me! 🙂


Today was a day to focus on teaching. More specifically, today was a day of lesson ideas. We started our day by catching the subway to the New-York Historical Society and a morning section on New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War. We were taken into several floors of the museum and asked to look at different pieces with an open, yet inquisitive eye. The whole theme at these different museums seems to be teaching us the process of looking at art (as well as furniture, guns, bottles, cloths, documents, etc.) and learning to answer basic questions in a purposeful manner. A question like “What do you see?” often get answers that include our background knowledge. It is good to include this background knowledge, but done at the proper time and in the proper order. So when we do step one, we should really answer the question “What do we see?” and only use our eyes to tell exactly what they see.    


This picture is a good example. We tend to add to the picture with our background which can lead to misinterpretations. So the first step is to look with your eyes and tell what they see. Next you would add any background knowledge that you might have of the object or even the time frame around the item (object) and determine if more can be added to what we see. These types of questions ask for the viewer to use inquiry skills. Types of these questions could include “How do you know?” or “Why was it created?” or “What do you think is happening?” This step lets you begin to peel the layers back nand better understand the item.     

The next step would be to try to understand the object. You know what you see; next you used inquiry skills to understand what the object is or why it was created. So finally historians as well as others need to think about whom would use the item or want it created. What reasons could there be behind the item?  This basic 3 step process is the basics behind inquiry based learning. That understanding should be based around a person’s questions. Our job as teachers of history should be to help students along the process of discovering knowledge themselves. In this form of instruction teachers should be facilitators of learning rather than vessels of knowledge.   

Commodore Hutch helping the learning process along!

This form of teaching history is active learning which engages student attention and helps give them substance to remember. Students love hands on instruction and helps them begin to develop experimental and analytical skills rather than memorize meaningless and boring facts. It is the basis behind DBQ’s and the direction that history instruction is headed. I plan to find more hands on activities that I can use in my instruction throughout the year.

We went to lunch at the Shake Shack which I found to be over priced for average fast food! Next we were turned loose at the American Museum of Natural History. Before we even went into the building I had an idea about a lesson. I saw all the mosaics for this museum on the subway walls and thought we could have the students make colorful, varnished clay titled works of art that represent what they have learned about a subject. Just an idea that I’m running through my brain right now!


The American Muesum of Natural History was incredible! I didn’t think it was possible to pack that much stuff in any one building! This is the building and exhibits where  Night at the Museum was based on.

I don’t have time to go over everything we saw here so I will just hit the highlights! As we walked in the doors you are amazed by two large dinosaurs. The Ocean Life exhibit and American Mammal exhibit were tops on floor one. On floor two I was very impressed by the ancient people’s exhibits, especially those of South American and Mexico since I taught that area for so many years. I loved the Indian exhibits on the third floor but was driven off early by huge groups of loud and obnoxious teens. And we finally made the 4th floor and the Dinosaur collection! Wow, so much that it might still be impossible to take it all thoroughly in, even with multiple days of devotion here.    

And finally, the big game, $77 tickets to go see those hated Yankees! There is no other baseball team I hate as much as the Yankees! But this is Yankee Stadium! We rode the subway and for the first time it was freaky. There were so many people packed on the train and my car that I was hurting. It felt as if my chest were tightening up. I’m from Colorado and I do need my space! When we finally arrived I headed for the game with the intent of getting my buddy “Coach” a sweatshirt. Best I could do was find a 2x tee shirt. But never fear, it was Mario Rivera night & I got a Rivera figure that I will give him too. The game was fun even if the hated Yankees won! I ate another Nathans hotdog. I wanted a Hebrew Nation Dog but they didn’t have the kraut to go with it yet and I never made it back. And after the 5th inning they were announcing birthdays and such on the big screen when someone popped the big question of marriage. Turns out that they were 2 seats straight in front of me. They kissed and she took the ring so I guess the answer was yes!

But did he go to Jarred?

Bear & Me at Yankee Stadium! 🙂

All in all, a pretty good day of lesson ideas, museums, and baseball!