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
“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
Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day when many people are looking up information on the Civil Rights leader. Unfortunately, relying on Google or other popular search engines can lead unsuspecting researchers astray.
A Google search for “Martin Luther King” brings up martinlutherking.org as its third result. The site, which claims to give a “True Historical Examination” of King’s life, makes many false or misleading accusations intended to discredit King. It encourages students to print flyers and post them in their schools.
The site is designed to resemble a trustworthy educational site. Only a link at the bottom of the front page reveals the source of the site: Stormfront.org, one of the longest-running and most popular white supremacist sites on the Web.
“Because many people use simple Internet keyword searches for instant results, it's easy to see how MartinLutherKing.org, could mislead a user about the nature of its content,” writes Imaeyen Ibanga for ABC News.
Martinlutherking.org is an extreme example of the importance of evaluating a Web site’s credibility. One cannot assume that the first few results of a Google search are credible Web sites. A site’s Google ranking is due more to its traffic and keyword optimization than the quality of its content.
When evaluating a Web site you are not familiar with, it is necessary to look at the “About Us” section or similar section. For help in evaluating credibility, see our Guide to Web Search.
Google’s results also demonstrate the advantages of Sweet Search, which includes only Web sites that have been evaluated as reliable and appropriate for educational purposes.
Read the findingDulcinea profile of Martin Luther King Jr. to find the best Web sites for studying his life and work.
A friend of mine recently found a stack of newspapers from 1940 hidden away in her basement, so just for fun we read through a few of them. And while it was entertaining to laugh at what we thought were very tame comics and outlandish advertisements, it was especially interesting to read the international news.
The year 1940 was an interesting time in international relations. World War II started a year earlier when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, so there was a lot of coverage of the war in Europe, but at that time Pearl Harbor had not yet been attacked (that wouldn't happen until Dec. 7, 1941), so the U.S. was not officially part of the war.
Seeing these old newspapers reminded me of why date is one key factor in finding credible sources.
We generally consider newspapers to be credible sources for research, and they usually are. But this snapshot of the war, although filled with the most accurate information at the time and meeting all other criteria for credibility, couldn't have served as the only source in a research paper about World War II, because its date meant that it was missing some vital pieces of the puzzle.
If you read only that paper and didn't pay attention to the date, you might think that World War II was still going on. Also, not knowing that the U.S. would later enter the war would certainly prevent you from knowing that it was the U.S.'s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that eventually ended the war and brought the horror of atomic weapons into light.
Now, this example might seem too obvious—most people with a little bit of familiarity with the war would probably know that there was more to the story, so they'd know to seek out other sources for the research. But date makes a large difference even in contemporary stories. As events unfold over hours, days or weeks, the stories often change a great deal. What a source might contain about a scientific discovery, about a living person, a conflict, a bit of technology or any number of other things can be drastically different if written on a different date.
On the other hand, researching historical events may require that you find primary material to supplement your more current sources, as the facts can get jumbled over time as stories are told and retold.
When doing research, make sure to check the dates of your sources. If you are reading information from a few months ago, use a news search engine to see if there are any new developments. If you are reading a news article about a historic event, look for primary sources from the date of the event to verify the information. Often combining sources from a variety of dates can give you an accurate and complete understanding of your subject.
And for other factors to consider when looking for credible sources, see our Guide to Web Search.
Primary source material—such as journals, speeches, letters, contemporary news reports, government documents, photographs, artifacts and maps—is an invaluable resource in understanding history.
“Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period,” writes the Library of Congress.
Digitized archives make it possible for students or amateur researchers to access and search primary source collections. Much of the material is not easily accessed through search engines.
Searching for a specific Civil War battle, for example, will lead you to plenty of secondary sources and a few primary sources. However, you are not likely to find battle reports and letters sent between Union and Confederate leaders and their respective War and Naval Departments, which are available in the Official Records. Similarly, you will probably miss first-hand accounts written by those leaders after the war, which have been collected in the Battles & Leaders of the Civil War and the Southern Historical Society Papers.
Our goal at findingDulcinea is to direct you to collections like these. As we develop our history section, each guide will have sections devoted to primary source archives. Currently, the guides on Native Americans, the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II all have these sections. Most of our On This Day features link to primary sources either in tables at the end of a section or in a separate Reference section at the end of the article.
For help in learning how to use primary sources, visit the Library of Congress’ Primary Source Sets section and the National Archives’ Teaching With Documents section. Both provide lesson plans on a wide variety of topics.
I have from time to time explained the genesis of findingDulcinea’s “On This Day” feature. The feature offers a well researched exposition of a significant event that occurred on this day in history. It is a sharp contrast to the uninspiring, rote listing of historical events you find in most newspapers.
Readers agree, as On This Day has become our most popular feature by far. And few of the entries have generated as much favorable feedback as the one we publish on Dec. 31 regarding the plane crash that took the life of Roberto Clemente.
Clemente had a Baseball Hall of Fame career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, highlighted by his heroics in the World Series in 1971. And he was just as admirable on the social front, being active in so many causes in his native Puerto Rico, his adopted home city of Pittsburgh, and elsewhere in the world.
After a massive earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua, Clemente leveraged his fame to collect a massive amount relief supplies in Puerto Rico. He decided to spend New Year’s Eve flying to Nicaragua to ensure the supplies were delivered to those stricken by the disaster. Tragically, this gesture resulted in this noble figure being taken from us way too early, as the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.
My young son wears a T-shirt with Clemente’s name and number on it; grown men stop him in the street with tears in their eyes as they speak admiringly of Clemente. When we first published the story a year ago, I sent the story around to a slew of friends today; a few wrote back to say they remembered exactly where they were when they heard the news.
And yet many people wrote back words along the lines of “how inspiring, how had I never heard of him?” With most current articles about our top athletes decidedly negative, we need to keep alive the memory of athletes such as Roberto Clemente, who had a mission in life that did not end when he crossed home plate.
Learn about many other famous historical events in the findingDulcinea On This Day archive.
Mark E. Moran
Founder and CEO
One of the perks of writing for findingDucinea is that I’m constantly learning about historic events, whether obscure or well known, which I otherwise might have missed. One of my favorite On This Day articles is about the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914, when British and German soldiers put down their weapons in favor of a friendly game of soccer.
The temporary truces were widespread, complete with carols and chocolate cake, and occurred just five months into the War. The years of bitter fighting that followed would not allow for such heartwarming Christmases, but for that one day, all soldiers were comrades in civility.Today’s article detailing “9 Historical Events That Occurred on Christmas Day” includes the Christmas Truce, among other new beginnings, such as the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, marking the end of the Soviet Union and the birth of new commonwealths.
We owe it to ourselves to learn from these events, to think carefully about what each one truly means, and to attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of those who suffered or summoned bravery. These are events that should not fade from our collective memory.Sarah Amandolare
Today is the 106th anniversary of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight at Kitty Hawk. The event is considered the first-ever motorized flight, and the Wright brothers are considered the inventors of the airplane, but those distinctions are disputed.German Karl Jatho claimed that he successfully flew his own plane in August and November 1903. However, Jatho did little to publicize his flights, and the world knew nothing about it when the Wrights took flight that December.
Thomas Edison didn’t invent the incandescent light bulb; he was the first to create one that was practical for everyday use. Guglielmo Marconi didn’t invent the wireless telegraph; he was the first to send a signal across the Atlantic. Alexander Cartwright didn’t invent baseball; he and his fellow members of the Knickerbocker Club modified the rules of contemporary stick-and-ball games to make it more like modern baseball.
Credit for an invention often depends on the publicity it received. Whereas Jatho’s flights were known by only a handful of people, the Wright brothers’ flight was reported across the world and its coverage launched an era of aviation.
In many cases, an inventor’s self-promotion is as significant as his ingenuity. As the satirical newspaper The Onion recently quipped, although Edison did not invent the light bulb, he did “devise the groundbreaking new process of taking ideas pioneered by other scientists and marketing them as his own.”
Remember watching “Sesame Street” and learning the alphabet and some basic math skills? How about “Schoolhouse Rock” and learning the difference between an interjection and a conjunction, or how a bill becomes law? Did you forget how much fun learning could be?
Blake Harrison didn’t forget. Harrison, along with Alex Rappaport, founded Flocabulary, a teaching curriculum that uses educational hip-hop music to teach reading, vocabulary, math, science and social studies. The duo has taken their music on the road, held teaching workshops and created a current events series called The Week in Rap.
FindingEducation, a new tool that helps teachers save and share their favorite Web sites and assignments, spoke with Harrison about his inspiration for Flocabulary, how music enhances education and why teachers are seeing value in this unique approach. Read the full interview with Blake Harrison at findingEducation’s blog, Digital Teachers’ Lounge.
Modern-day students live in a ‘now’ society, but now is constantly shifting. What’s ‘now’ right now—Kanye West’s rude interruption of country crossover Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards—has already begun sliding into the archives of our minds. It will appear in media outlets for days to come, and will be revived on end-of-year lists recapping the wackiest moments in pop culture, but it’s already passé to a lot of people, particularly young people.
A week is a long time in politics. It’s also a long time in a student’s life. My tenth grade history teacher once wisely told our Western Civ class, “Every year of your life will feel shorter.” Ten years later, I see he was right. For today’s students, the media—and particularly the Internet—is helping to stretch time even more. The number of events, exchanges, videos and emoticons that a young person experiences in a given week is far greater than it was for me ten years ago. But each digital transaction seems to hinge on the present, or better yet, the future. What about the past?
Beloit College publishes the Mindset List every fall. It’s an “effort to identify the worldview of 18 year-olds” entering their first year of college. The list is made up of cultural phenomena that have existed during these students’ lifetimes. For example, the class of 2013 has “never used a card catalog to find a book.”
As Time Magazine rightly notes in an article on the list, a lot has changed since 1991, the year most of this year’s college freshmen were born. “In 1991 the world watched a black motorist named Rodney King be beaten by L.A. cops, all of whom were acquitted; a majority of whites still disapproved of interracial marriage. Ask yourself, Would the people we were then have voted for a mixed-race President and a black First Lady?”
We can look back, and pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come. But to keep moving forward, we have to keep looking back—not only at last week, when outbursts by Rep. Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and Kanye West got us thinking about topics like race, sportsmanship, egotism, manners and musical talent—but farther back, decades and even centuries back.
The Internet has a reputation for showcasing the next big thing in an ever-refreshing browser page. But today’s young thinkers should remember that the Internet is a limitless store of information, and it has a very good memory.
Check out our article “Web Sites for Researching History” to delve deeper into the past online.
Stay tuned for our On This Day Challenge, launching next week, where students will improve their online research skills and general Web savvy by writing articles about historical events using online resources. Students will post their articles to findingEducation, our collaboration tool for teachers and students, and we'll be selecting the best for publication on findingDulcinea.
Sign up for findingEducation to get notified about the challenge launch!
On Sept. 1, 1939, World War II began with Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. This week’s 70th anniversary commemoration of the event saw diplomatic gestures between former enemies. The war killed 6 million Poles, Christian Science Monitor’s Elizabeth Pond reports from Gdansk, Poland, in an assessment of “old enemies” on the 70th anniversary. Half of them were Jewish.
Poland is the center of this year’s commemoration because it “suffered the highest ratio of war deaths per population.” But today, “Poles and Germans are friends and allies,” Pond notes, and another old foe, Russia, this week made efforts to denounce the Hitler-Stalin pact forged just before the outbreak of the war. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany described her country’s role in the atrocities of World War II at a ceremony yesterday, saying Germanybears an “‘eternal’ responsibility” for what happened, Bloomberg reported.
“There are no words that could even remotely describe the suffering caused by this war and the Holocaust,” Merkel said at the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdansk. “I bow before the victims.”
This week also saw British wartime songstress Dame Vera Lynn reemerging on the UK album chart at number 20, becoming the oldest living singer on the chart (she is 92).
As her Allmusic biography explains, the “mere mention of Vera Lynn's name evokes images of London skies filled with barrage balloons, and Britons riding out the German blitz in shelters and subway stations.” Wartime songs like “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart” became hits in the U.K. and U.S., and Lynn became the British troops’ “sweetheart” when she travelled to entertain them, “often at great personal risk,” AFP explains.
Learn more about the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of World War II with findingDulcinea’s article, “On This Day: Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II.” Then, read about the final day of the European portion of the war with “On This Day: V-E Day Ends World War II in Europe.”
Last night, Sen. Edward Kennedy passed away after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. Any newswire reveals this much, but only the obituary pages offer a comprehensive look at Senator Kennedy’s life and national importance. Technically an announcement of death, an obituary can also serve as an authoritative biography, and it is often written while its subject is still alive and continuously updated until its fatal debut. Before you tire of the phrase “lion in the Senate,” read the following thoughtful and detailed looks at Senator Kennedy’s life, and bookmark those newspapers’ obituary sections for some excellent biographical resources.
Declaring Sen. Kennedy “a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life,” the six-page New York Times obituary delves scrupulously behind the senator’s public image, offering a detailed, chronological account that balances the discipline of his public career with his private excesses and troubles. After an overview of the circumstances of Kennedy’s death and his recent role in the health care debate, reporter John M. Broder breaks down the phases of the senator’s life, from a youth overshadowed by more powerful brothers to his role as influential statesman. The Times supplements its written obituary with multimedia resources, including a 13-minute video tribute.
Focusing more on his legislative accomplishments and priorities, The Washington Post obituary provides a slightly different emphasis in its extensive coverage of Kennedy, but still wraps up with a thorough and interactive biographical timeline. Reporter Joe Holley also offers his personal reflection on the senator on the Post’s “Post Mortem” blog, which goes behind the day’s obituaries in regular features like “The Daily Goodbye.”
For an international perspective, including details on how he “annoyed several British administrations,” read Kennedy’s obituary in The Daily Telegraph. Interspersing its obit with illuminating quotes and anecdotes, The Telegraph offers a more personal and visceral account of the senator—and of its other obituary subjects—than the American papers do.
Finally, if you would like to research an older or more obscure death than Senator Kennedy’s, the Internet Public Library has written a helpful guide to finding obituaries.