Technorati Tags: critical thinking, history a fable agreed upon, history class critical thinking, slave trade, slavery, social studies critical thinking, until the lion has a historian the hunter will always be a hero, us history, world history
We're thrilled to announce a new collaboration with LineTime, a German group that develops mobile apps.
LineTime 1.o was introduced through the Apple App Store in January 2011. It received rave reviews, including a "Pick of the Week" nod from Apple Germany, and the top award at Appbackrthon Berlin, an iOS Hackathon.
LineTime 1.0 offered users the ability to view the course of modern history on a timeline, and to drill down into each century, decade or year. It was populated with history content from Wikipedia, and was intended as a demonstration of the app's potential when populated with additional content, or used in conjunction with other apps.
We immediately saw the tremendous potential for this app in education. It literally changes the way students look at history, enabling them to view historical events in full context, in a way that textbooks never could. Most history courses are narrow in scope, and review a limited set of events that fit the theme of the course. Thus, students of United States History often study the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, and then World War II, while barely taking note of the troubles of the Weimar Republic and rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the rise of fascism in Italy, the Spanish Civil War, or the start of the second Sino-Japanese War. With the right content, the LineTime App has the potential to enable students to see what was happening all over the world in a particular decade, year, month or day.
The app's search function also enables students to trace history through a single word. Search on "earthquakes," "assassination" or "treaty" and you'll find a list of every entry in the app that contains those words. Students can then tab through these entries and see history through yet another lens.
We promptly began collaborating with LineTime on a partnership to add findingDulcinea's On This Day content to the app. Our On This Day content is comprised of more than 400 well-researched articles about important historic events, providing full context about the event and links to the best online resources about it. It's the basis of our Historic Headlines collaboration with The New York Times, and we're thrilled to introduce this additional way for students and history buffs to interact with our content.
LineTime 1.5 is now available in the App Store for the introductory price of $2.99 (with bulk discounts for schools). We plan to move quickly to offer updated versions with substantially more content. While these future versions will surely be priced higher than this introductory price, anyone purchasing LineTime 1.5 will receive all future updates at no charge. Watch this video to see LineTime 1.5 in action!
We're also contemplating additional apps that will complement LineTime 1.5, for a modest additional charge. Some may focus intently on a particular time period or event; for instance, we may offer a separate app with hundreds or even thousands of entries about the U.S. Civil Rights movement, or another with minute-by-minute details of the assassination of JFK. We are also contemplating another app that would enable users to customize LineTime with their own custom entries, whether about their ancestors, their country or their local area.
As always, we highly value the feedback of educators, who have essentially written our product roadmap the past three years. Please write me at Mark[dot]Moran[at]DulcineaMedia[dotcom] with suggestions for how we can make the LineTime App an even better learning tool.
Founder & CEO
Technorati Tags: findingdulcinea, history app, history context, iPad App history, iPad app social studies, iPhone App history, iPhone app social studies, LineTime App, on this day in history, sweetsearch, timeline app
This week, I scoured the Web for lesson plans and activities for Women's History Month. Few, if any, asked students to do Web research, demonstrate media literacy, synthesize multiple resources, communicate their findings in a manner that engages modern audiences, or share their project outside the walls of their school.
Below I suggest a few activities that will help students learn about inspiring women and seminal events in women's history, and also offer a learning experience that is relevant to the world in which they live and will one day seek to work. At the end of the post, we list our free resources to assist students in their work, and discuss an opportunity for students to publish their work.
Create a Timeline on Life.com
Life.com offers an extensive collection of photos from Life Magazine's legendary archives, as well as from Getty Images. It enables users to create and share a timeline of photos they select, and to write a caption for each photo. Here are four sample timelines about women in history. Caution: some of the photos on Life.com have adult themes, or may depict gore or violence.
Research Women's Firsts in 2010
History is not only what happened long ago; it is made every day. Two years ago, we partnered with The Women on the Web on "2008 Firsts for Women," a collection of women from all over the world who became the first of their gender to achieve something significant in 2008. One example was Brittany Cantazaro, who at the age of 19, had become New York Waterway’s first female ferry captain. Only a week after we published her profile, Brittany piloted the first ferry to rescue passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 after Captain Sullenberger landed it in the Hudson River. She exhibited wisdom beyond her years by cutting the engines of the ferry to avoid creating a wake that could have sent the plane's passengers plunging into the chilly water.
Have a team of students research and create "2010 Firsts for Women." In learning about women who are breaking barriers today, students will ponder why this is so, and gain a greater appreciation for those woman who broke barriers so many years ago.
A research tip: databases, which allow for more precise date targeting than any search engine, will be indispensible for identifying 2010's firsts for women.
Write a Series of Articles with a Common Theme, or Add to One of Ours
We've created a number of series of articles about women around a common theme:
A class of students could develop a series of articles around their own theme, or write articles to add to one of our series.
On This Day Challenge
A student (or group of students) chooses a significant event from women's history and uses the Web to research and gather information on the chosen event. Using critical thinking and analysis skills, the student then writes an article on the event, citing the Web sources. We provide specific instruction on how to write an On This Day article, and offer a dozen examples of events from women's history on this page.
Create Videos or Slideshows Instead of Articles
To create a video portrait of a woman or series of women, students could use a screen capture software product, such as Camtasia, to capture text, images and excerpts of videos of the women profiled, or a product such as Animoto to create a narrated video slideshow. Both products' websites offer extensive tutorials. In each case, students must conduct Web research, and then assemble the images, write a script, and create the end-product. The students' work could be displayed on a school website or their own blogs, or Teacher Tube or YouTube, and thus reach audiences across the globe.
To support students, we offer these resources:
Opportunity for Students to Get Published
In the 21st century, everyone is a publisher. Students must learn to create work that is seen outside the walls of their school building. We'll happily publish on findingDulcinea any student work that you submit to us that links to excellent online resources and is well-written for the student's grade level. Alternatively, we'll publish a series of blog posts throughout the month that highlight and link to student projects on school or student Websites. Note also that the On This Day Challenge, discussed above, offers a more formal opportunity for students to get published and win prizes.
Founder & CEO
In conjunction with findingEducation, we've launched the On This Day Challenge. We're asking students to write articles about historic events by conducting online research, with chances to win gift cards and cash and have their work published on findingDulcinea.
Click here to read everything teachers need to know about getting involved in the project. You'll find a section on motivating students to participate, advice for writing and researching an On This Day article, tips for evaluating Web sites, an FAQ and more.
SweetSearch is the product of 100,000+ hours of research that went into creating findingDulcinea's 700+ Web Guides and thousands of articles. This content links to tens of thousands of Web sites that have been evaluated as credible by our research experts and librarian and teacher consultants.
SweetSearch searches a "whitelist" comprised only of these 35,000 links, as well as sites we uncover by sifting through recommendations of librarians and teachers on their blogs and social bookmarking sites. You know those great lists you've been bookmarking for years? Well, SweetSearch is a giant, searchable repository of them.
It's likely that, had we sat down at the beginning to find a list of 35,000 credible sites, we would not have done it nearly as well as we did by instead finding, evaluating, organizing and annotating hundreds of Web Guides to the best 25-75 sites about a particular subject, or the best 5-8 sources about thousands of events in history, famous people, or timeless news topics.
We constantly evaluate the search results in SweetSearch and "fine-tune" them, by increasing the ranking of Web sites from organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, PBS and universities. We do more than merely exclude spam sites; we also exclude marginal sites that read well and authoritatively, but lack academic or journalistic rigor, and thus are not cite worthy.
For a bevy of reviews of findingDulcinea and SweetSearch from top educators, see our media kit; to add SweetSearch to the search options on your Web browsers, click on the "Add On" box on SweetSearch; or get a widget for SweetSearch, to embed it on your school Web site.
For younger learners, we've recently introduced a beta version of SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently ranks high quality Websites created for elementary school students, and mixes them with accessible primary source sites.
(Please note that SweetSearch4Me is the only variant search engine; our landing pages for School Librarians, Social Studies Teachers, Biographies, etc. do not contain their own versions of SweetSearch; they all highlight particular content from findingDulcinea and other sites that are useful to the target group, but the search engine included is the original version of SweetSearch).
Technology journalist Paul Gilster wrote in his column in The News Observer, "Search here and you're working in a universe of checked, verifiable sources and solid information.....Google or Bing may find many of the same sites, but what I've noticed is that some of the better sites for a particular topic wind up deep in their search results, often outranked by Web pages more commonly used but of inferior quality...I was impressed with SweetSearch's focus on credible scholarship and emphasis on primary source materials."
Our favorite review came from an impressive member of our target audience - Amanda, who blogs as "Farmgirl Writes," and deemed SweetSearch "an amazing search engine," and explained,
"Within a half-an-hour, I was ready to type my essay, wondering why I'd wasted a half a day searching with Google and EBSCOhost. (Sorry Google. I still love you - just not for research anymore.) Why didn't I discover this before? If I had known about Sweet Search at the beginning of World History, I think I would have saved myself hundreds of hours of research."
The result? As Amanda wrote, students find what they need, and they find it faster. When my generation was in school, the librarian pointed us to pre-screened resources on our general subject, and we decided which ones were the most relevant to our specific research project. That’s what SweetSearch does for students with online resources.
To enable students to better scan results to determine relevancy, we've partnered with Yolink. From a SweetSearch results page, click on the Yolink toolbar on the left side, and add a term to narrow your search. Yolink will then browse your original search results and show an expanded view of the results in which your additional term appears. Yolink then enables you to save excerpts of search results, with the source link, to a Google doc, Web-based email, or social bookmarking and sharing services such as Diigo, and to the citation generator Easy Bib.
Together, SweetSearch, Yolink and EasyBib are utterly transforming Web search for students, from something they can barely use to something they can use quite effectively.
Of course, students still need to follow the principles laid out in our Ten Steps to Better Web Research by, among other things, formulating good search queries, and often looking past the first few results to find the very best ones. Another principle is to use more than one search engine, as not even we use SweetSearch exclusively - when we research an article, we start with SweetSearch and usually find substantially all we need there, but then we always cross-check against other search engines and databases, and so should your students. To facilitate this, SweetSearch includes a toggle option to view the search results from Google.
Many of the results returned by Google and Bing aren't quite up to snuff for including in a school paper. Wikipedia ranks first on both engines. While many people find Wikipedia a good place to begin their research, most educators are frustrated that students use it almost exclusively, and not wisely. For this reason, Wikipedia almost never shows up in SweetSearch results.
For "War of 1812," the second result on Google is "Gateway New Orleans," which includes a brief summary of the war by an unknown author. The purpose of the site is to promote tourism in New Orleans, not to promote scholarship on the War of 1812. And both search engines prominently display a link that contains a teaser summary of the war by Gala Films, whose purpose is to get you to buy a movie.
Both of these sites rank so high because general commercial search engines display recently published content high in its results, since many times that is what the user finds most relevant. But when it comes to a war that ended nearly two centuries ago, recently produced material has little advantage over the “classics.”
Both search engines also prominently feature "Warof1812.ca," and "Warof1812.net," likely because of the specificity of their domain names. The first offers a lot of material written by two people, whose credentials are not provided. The site contains no "About Us" section, and its primary purpose is to sell products relating to the war. The second is the result of a long-abandoned project to put student material on the Internet; it's primary purpose now seems to be to drive you to search the topic yourself on Google.
On the first page of SweetSearch's results, you'll find precisely the Web sites that a teacher wants students using. The first result is the Library of Congress' entire collection of primary source documents on the War of 1812. The second is a comprehensive ThinkQuest created by students under the supervision of teachers and professors, followed by sites from the National Archives and the U.S. Military. Four sites in the next group—an Indiana University site about the political cartoons of the War of 1812, a Long Island University site about African-American Freedom Fighters, a Smithsonian site about the Star Spangled Banner, and the Avalon Project of Yale University—are sites that students could use to solidly distinguish their work from that of their classmates. Where are these results on Google and Bing? Scattered through the third to seventh results pages.
Again, Wikipedia ranks first for Google and Bing. Also appearing prominently, again due to the specific domain names, are "Shakespeare.com" and "Shakespeare-online.com." Each of these is a well-written "passion site," one created by an individual who is passionate about the subject, but does not possess academic credentials that would enable a student to rely on the sites when writing an academic paper. Each engine also contains several sites that are only about selling products.
On SweetSearch, you again find some outstanding academic resources, many of which are buried in Google or Bing. These include sites from the Library of Congress, the British Library, PBS and Project Gutenberg.
We'd love to get your feedback on SweetSearch. Try your own searches and let us know what you think by commenting below or by e-mailing us at Mark[dot]Moran[at]DulcineaMedia[dot]com
Founder and CEO
TEACHING TEN STEPS TO BETTER WEB RESEARCH
The presentation on "Teaching Ten Steps to Better Web Research" is a PowerPoint that I have uploaded to our account on SlideShare. Where the footnoted material is available online, it may be accessed by clicking on the highlighted text below.
1. Prensky, Marc. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” : On the Horizon. NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001
2. Els Kuiper, Monique Volman and Jan Terwel. “Students' use of Web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information.” Information Research: Vol. 13, No.3, (September, 2008).
3. Shu-Hsien L. Chen. “Searching the Online Catalog and the World Wide Web.” Journal of Educational Media & Library Sciences, 41 1 (September 2003) 29-43
4. A Study of Students' Online Search Behavior, Mark E. Moran and Shannon A. Firth, April 30, 2010.
5. On “Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape.” Berkman Center for Internet & Society. February 24, 2010.
6.UCL. “Information behavior of the researcher of the future”: 11 January 2008.
7. Steve Kolowich, Searching for Better Research Habits, Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2010
8. Eisenberg, Mike. “What is the Big 6.” The Big 6: Information & Technology Skills for Student Achievement, (1997)
9. “Research Skills.” State Library of Victoria. Ergo. (2010)
10. Media Post: Google Research Focuses on Search Failures, September 21, 2010
11. Geoffrey Nunberg, “Teaching Students to Swim in the Online Sea,” The New York Times, February 13,2005.
12. Eszter Hargittai etal, “Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content,” International Journal of Communications 4 (2010), 468-494, 1932-8036/20100468
Do not hesitate to contact our CEO at Mark [dot] Moran [at] DulcineaMedia [dot] com with any questions.
DULCINEA MEDIA'S PRODUCTS
Dulcinea Media provides free tools and content that help educators teach students how to use the Web effectively. These are discussed comprehensively in these two blog posts:How We Help Social Studies Teachers Integrate the Web into the Syllabus
The second post repeats a fair bit of the first, but adds specific insight into our content for social studies teachers.
These two posts above themselves link to just about everything else I'd want you to read about our company, but for your convenience, I repeat some of the most important and relevant links below:
Technorati Tags: dulcinea media, education, findingdulcinea, mark moran, student search skills, sweetsearch, ten steps to better web research, web literacy, Web research, web research skills, web search
Today's "On This Day" covers the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. He was killed by Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist son of Polish immigrants who took "class warfare" to an extreme. He later said “I killed President McKinley because I done my duty.” I didn’t believe one man should have so much service, and another man should have none.”
Our "On This Day"
for July 2 contained several fascinating, little-known facts about the
assassination of President Garfield. The defense
asserted by assassin Charles Guiteau at his trial: “Some of these days
instead of saying ‘Guiteau the assassin’, they will say ‘Guiteau the
The beliefs of Czolgosz and Guiteau are hardly exceptional as assassins go. Self-delusion of a noble, heroic purpose is a common thread connecting murderous lone actors of history.
What convinces an assassin that he’s a national hero? How does one man, out of so many millions who might share similar political beliefs and passions, conclude that it is his destiny to commit murder for the greater good?
Guiteau defended his action as “a political necessity,” and was so confident of general approbation that he instructed General William Tecumseh Sherman, “I am going to the Jail. Please order out your troops and take possession of the Jail at once.”
Our “On This Day” about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln reveals a similar theme, as John Wilkes Booth was shocked at the public’s grief and failure to applaud the murder. His letters provide disturbing insight into his motivations, such as this excerpt printed by the New York Times: “When a country like this spurns justice from her side, She forfeits the allegiance of every honest freeman, and should leave him untrammeled by any fealty soever, to act, as his conscience may approve.”
The 2009 assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller once again echoed this same sad, deluded tale. Although many tried to link the murder to the heated rhetoric of our cable news culture, only one man translated this passion into violence.
FindingDulcinea Senior Writer Shannon Firth analyzed Tiller's murder and explored the motives of assassins, detailing the three types categorized by author Kris Hollington. There are “wolves,” who seek notoriety, “jackals,” who are hired hands, and finally “foxes,” who are “novices hoping to make a political statement.”
According to Hollington, these foxes are intensely passionate, but are also “ordinary, unremarkable people, often failures: the antithesis of the men and women they try to kill.” Although they justify their actions in political and often religious language, “it’s all within the troubled mind of the lone individual… almost a movie in their mind.”
Do their personal failures, then, prod them towards an alternate reality, in which they can play the film-star heroes? John Hinckley, Jr., possibly inspired by the movie Taxi Driver, believed that by shooting Ronald Reagan he could win the love of actress Jodie Foster. He later explained himself, according to PBS, with this rumination on fiction: “The line dividing life and art can be invisible. After seeing enough hypnotizing movies and reading enough magical books, a fantasy life develops which can either be harmless or quite dangerous.”
I suppose heroism, and even history, is always something of a fiction, a combination of reality and the myths built around it. But I can’t stop wondering what it takes to push an individual into a myth so fatal, so extreme, and so disconnected from the society he believes he is saving.
Founder & CEO
Technorati Tags: anarchists, assassination of president garfield, assassination of president lincoln, assassination of president mckinley, assassins, Charles Guiteau, george tiller, john hinckley, john wilkes booth, leon czolgosz, political killings, what motivates assassins
The Web contains millions of primary source documents, such as letters, diaries, photographs and videos, and contemporary news accounts. It also contains innumerable reflective essays written by experts who are much more conversant with the topic than a general writer for a textbook publisher.
But few educators have the time to sorting through literally billions of Web sites to find the rare gems that lend students a greater understanding of a subject. Traditional search engines aren't helpful; they sort by relevance, not by credibility, and often can't filter finely enough to help you find what you're looking for.
What you need is expert human curators to highlight the material worth your consideration.
Click here to read reviews of our work by well-known educators and journals.
Our landing page for Social Studies reflects the effort of two dozen full-time researchers and an equal number of teacher consultants who have brought order to the best social studies content available online.
Begin each day by perusing our SweetSearch2Day, which is a daily curated assortment of the best content on the Web for current events, history, language arts, science, culture and other topics. Better yet, sign-up for our newsletter, and at 6:00 a.m. NY time, we'll send you links to the most intriguing content on that day's page. For examples of the newsletter, click here and here.
Our seminal article, "101 Great Sites for Social Studies Class," points you to gems such as:
To provide a practical use for the many interview sites we've uncovered, we publish "Interview of the Day," which leads you to some of the most compelling video, audio and text interviews of the 20th century. Do you teach your students about Amelia Earhart? We found three newsreel interviews with her from 1928. How about Eleanor Roosevelt? Watch the interview she gave to Mike Wallace in 1957, in which she remarked about The Cold War, "I feel quite sure that the American people, if they have knowledge and leadership, can meet any crisis just as well as they met it over and over again in the past.”
The On This Day articles that we publish each day explain an historical event, what led up to it, what happened that day, and the long-term recriminations and echoes in history. We also publish it in Spanish, as Hoy en la Historia. We hope you'll encourage your students to elevate their research and critical thinking skills in our On This Day Challenge, which offers them step-by-step instruction, prizes, and a chance to be published.
Students need role models, right? We've written thousands of headline articles; high school librarian Joyce Valenza wrote on her School Library Journal blog that our "discoveries are timely and seem to continually attack those topics my students research." We find additional background or reference information on the topic, related topics and opposing points of view. We integrate all this information into a cohesive, comprehensive look at the topic, and link to our sources, which we align in a single box.
When Iran violently suppressed protests last year, we wrote about the History of Iranian Revolutions. When a killer whale tragically drowned a Sea World trainer, leading to calls for its release into the wild, our article about it summarized and linked to a PBS documentary that provided a chart discussing all 133 killer whales that had ever been captured in the wild for use in shows, and an intriguing story about killer whales who cooperated with Pacific Island villagers to trap, kill and mutually share other whales. For other examples of how we help social studies teachers teach students to think for themselves about what we call the "fragile truth of history," read this blog post.
A white paper released in November 2010 by Temple University Media Education Professor Renee Hobbs, sponsored by The Knight Commission, included Beyond the Headlines in its "Portraits of Success: Powerful Voices for Kids" and wrote, "Finding Dulcinea... addresses the 'context deficit' that occurs with online searching."
Our Features section contains a wide range of articles of interest to educators. For example, we hear often that students struggle to find good material for country and state reports. So we published "Sites for Learning About Countries," which links to the best 18 sites we found, for younger and older learners, as well as "Sites for Learning About the 50 States." We also know that students often study inventors and inventions; our Innovations series discusses, and provides outstanding research resources about, the complex history behind the inventions of modern mainstays such as the bicycle, refrigerator, vacuum and autopsies.
Because our content is so vast and voluminous, we've created special collections pages. Teachers often tell us that students all want to write about the same events and people, year after year; Jackie and Rosa for African-American History Month; Eleanor, Florence, Betsy and Oprah for Women's History Month; Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa for Global Studies. SweetSearch Biographies is an indexed collection of more than 1,000 biographies, sortable by profession, gender, and race/origin. Students using this will soon be teaching you about people you've never heard of. After a librarian told us that students all write about the same events and people from the Holocaust, we created this collection of Holocaust material as the antidote.
Our thousands of articles build upon the dozens of Web Guides you'll find in the left-hand column on the social studies landing page. Nearly all were created by outstanding teachers of the subject/grade level covered. The guides are comprehensive, narrated tours of the best content on the Web for teachers, students and parents, and directly link you to the best primary sources about a subject. The guides typically track the teacher writer's syllabus.
Overlaying it all is SweetSearch, A Search Engine for Students. It only searches 35,000 credible resources that our research experts and educator consultants have approved when creating all the content discussed above. We also spend our Saturdays trolling through lists of sites recommended by social studies educators, vetting them ourselves, and adding those that pass muster. Because we know that a great resource for a high school student is not necessarily a great resource for a fourth grader, we've also introduced SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently features on the first results page the high quality Web sites created for elementary school students. Read this blog post to understand more about how we created SweetSearch, and its integration with Yolink, a remarkable tool that helps students quickly browse through rows of search results without opening them.
Though your students will now be using the best search engines for students, they should still learn the Ten Steps to Better Web Research. To help them, we've published this presentation on Teaching the Ten Steps, which has gotten more than 12,000 views in its first two month.
Once you've found all these great Web resources, you'll want to share them with your students, and colleagues. So we created findingEducation, a bookmarking and sharing tool that we describe in this blog post as your digital classroom. If exploited by educators to its full potential, findingEducation will become the free, paperless successor to those expensive, landfill-busting textbooks that burden your students backpacks each year.
At this year's annual conference of the National Social Studies Supervisors Association, we gave this presentation on "A Practical Approach to Integrating the Web and Technology into the Social Studies Classroom." Feedback on the presentation has been stellar, and indeed we've already been invited to present at next year's conference, as well as a half dozen state and regional conferences. This blog post has links to the many stellar examples of effective use of the Web by educators, as well as other outstanding social studies resources.
Please send me feedback, questions, suggestions, etc. on our Social Studies content and tools, to Mark.Moran@DulcineaMedia.com
Mark E. Moran
Founder & CEO
Posted at 11:40 AM in Beyond the Headlines, Education, encontrandoDulcinea, findingDulcinea Updates, History, Interviews, SweetSearch, Web Guides, Web Search, Web Sites | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
“Back to the Future” was released 25 years ago this week. When Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, first entered a date into the DeLorean’s time machine, it was July 5, 2010. Many on the Internet noted the date this week and concluded that if Marty actually arrived today, he’d quickly get back in the DeLorean and move on, or back, to some other date.
Of course much of Back to the Future was played out in the past. And that’s where I prefer to spend a lot of my time, as well. As I’ve written often, the key to foreseeing the future is understanding the past. That’s why much of the heart of findingDulcinea is devoted to helping students use the Internet to understand the past.
Our On This Day feature remains the most popular section on the site. And my favorite “On This Day” date is the Fourth of July, one of the only days on the calendar on which we simply had to write about three historic events.
Our three On This Days for the Fourth of July explain how America announced its Declaration of Independence, two of its founding fathers died within hours of each other exactly 50 years later, and how, in 1939, a legendary athlete told a sell-out crowd at Yankee Stadium that, notwithstanding the diagnosis of a terminal illness he had just received, he was “the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.”
Shortly after we sent our newsletter for the Fourth, I received an email that channeled Marty McFly: “amazing history. I've been dreaming that someday someone would invent a time machine because I am not contented with what I merely read. I want to see it if I could live in every time there is a great event.”
And my immediate thought was that there is a way to go Back to the Future, to live in the time of a great event: teach about it. As a Contracts tutor in Law School, the subject came alive for me much more than it did as a learner. Next, I had the pleasure of visiting a number of kindergarten classrooms to read. I never went with just a book. By carefully introducing a number of props, I transformed beyond a mere reader – to the kids, I was Captain Hook, the Cat in the Hat, the Mouse given a cookie.
And now I’ve helped create findingDulcinea, and continually discuss with students, educators and others some of the amazing things I’ve learned by researching or reading the articles on our website. What we offer goes beyond mere reading – to really engage someone in the importance of an event, you need to travel back to it – by viewing primary sources, such as pictures, videos or letters – and hearing the accounts of those who were there, or lived contemporaneously.
Last summer, I visited the restaurant founded by Jim Croce, one of my music idols. Displayed there were walls of pictures of Jim in concert and with his family, his guitars, and other memorabilia. But it was only when I saw the framed sheet containing the original writing of “Time in a Bottle” that Jim was no longer gone three decades; he was standing right next to me; I was awed by how the writing was so simple and yet conveyed so much. And thus all of our articles and Web Guides about historic topics offer all the primary sources as we can find on the Web. And discovering great events and finding the best primary sources on the Web to share with our readers helps me feel, in a small way, part of the event. But I am envious of those who regularly get to travel Back to the Future to these events with a class full of eager young learners.
Thank you for reading.Mark E. Moran
Founder & CEO
When Howard Zinn was 17, he got his first taste of rebellion in Times Square. Invited to a political rally by a few budding communists from his Brooklyn neighborhood, Zinn watched as policemen rode in on horseback and began beating protestors. He was hit and fell unconscious.
“I woke up sometime later in a doorway, with Times Square quiet again, eerie, dreamlike, as if nothing had transpired. I was ferociously indignant,” Zinn said, according to The New York Times.
The incident sparked Zinn, who went on to serve in World War II, to earn a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, and write his famous leftist book, “A People’s History of the United States.” Zinn passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif., where he’d been traveling, The Boston Globe reports.
His seminal work is perhaps Zinn’s most profound contribution to American students and teachers; regardless of your opinion of Zinn’s work, his voracious questioning of the status quo is admirable. And perhaps there is a way for budding young revolutionaries to emulate Zinn’s tenacity, and to muster enough fire to champion causes they believe in, regardless of how vehement the opposition.
Student inspiration could begin with research, and with uncovering a spark of inspiration, whether a memorable Zinn quote or another contrary viewpoint of history. If you know where to look online, such viewpoints can make for excellent classroom discussion points or research paper topics.
To get an idea of where to begin looking, and how to determine which online sources to take seriously, see findingDulcinea’s On This Day article about Germany’s bombing of the city of Coventry on Nov. 15, 1940. More than 500 people were killed and the city’s cathedral was destroyed in the attack. Notably, some people contend that Prime Minister Winston Churchill knew about the attack, but chose to keep it a secret to preserve an intelligence tool.FindingDulcinea’s article includes an “Opinion & Analysis” section discussing whether Churchill knew about the bombing of Coventry. The section links to a Time magazine review of “The Ultra Secret” but F.W. Winterbotham, the first to present a theory of Churchill’s actions. An article by Peter J. McIver, alleging that “Churchill Let Coventry Burn to Protect His Secret Intelligence,” posted on The Churchill Centre and Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms, London, is also included. The piece compares Winterbotham’s book with similar works by Anthony Cave Brown and William Stevenson.
Get more tips in our article on the best “Web Sites for Researching History,” and keep Zinn’s spirit of curiosity alive.Sarah Amandolare