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Using Primary Sources to Show Friendship Between Nations

Education Updates

This post features excerpts from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center’s “Cherry Blossoms, Friendship and the National Archives.” 

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson Planting a Tree During the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival First Lady Lady Bird Johnson Planting a Tree During the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, Tidal Basin, Washington, DC, 4/6/1965. From the White House Photo Office Collection LBJ-WHPO. National Archives Identifier 5730832.

Last month, we centered several family activities around primary source documents in our “Friendship Between Nations” Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day at the National Archives.

The core ideas behind these museum-based learning experiences can be adapted for the classroom too:

Geography — A GeoFind Challenge gave visitors an opportunity to learn interesting facts related to gift giving between nations. Did you know that the King of Siam offered President Lincoln an elephant to help with farming but he graciously declined? While several participants already knew, others learned that the city of DC’s many cherry blossom trees were originally a gift from Japan. We met students from all over the world who enjoyed…

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Mindmapping Our Presearch Notes: Seeing Patterns and Gaps

The Unquiet Librarian


For the last month or so, I’ve been working with a section of Honors 9th Language Arts (hopefully, another more comprehensive post coming on this endeavor later in the spring).   After completing a class study of To Kill a Mockingbird, the students selected a motif of choice and began presearching a topic of choice related to the motif.   After completing a presearch search term map and arriving at a narrowed topic (which I’ve blogged about earlier this semester), we moved forward with another and more focused round of presearch while using EasyBib to capture information sources and take notes.   After approximately two and a half weeks, most students had a body of notes on their focused topic.  However, after many 1:1 student conferences and a formative assessment of collecting and reading their notes, the teacher and I realized many students were struggling with:

1.  Recording relevant…

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Proving our worth: the elevator pitch

International Librarians Network

Garland Building elevator operators by Angle Torres. Used under CC-BY-NC-ND. Garland Building elevator operators by Angle Torres. Used under CC-BY-NC-ND.

One of the tools we can use to articulate the worth of our libraries is the elevator pitch. This can be a powerful tool to make a quick and memorable point.

The idea of the elevator pitch comes from an imaginary scenario where you are sharing an elevator ride with someone that you want to impress, be it your boss, a senior figure in your funding body, or a stranger that might become a strong advocate (or even donor) for your library. You’ve got somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to tell this person something that they will remember, and make them want to seek you out and find out more. What do you say?

Literature on this topic suggests that, in that tiny time frame, you need to cover:

  • Who you are
  • What you, your department, your…

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Art as Propaganda in World War I

Education Updates

Today’s post comes from National Archives volunteer Cynthia Peterman.

Two new WWI-related teaching activities on introduce students to artists who were employed to show the war to Americans back home: Artists Document World War I and WWI Propaganda and Art.

Doughboy Fighting through Barbed Wire Entanglement, 12/21/1918. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. National Archives Identifier 12060634. Doughboy Fighting through Barbed Wire Entanglement, 12/21/1918. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. National Archives Identifier 12060634.

During the Great War, the government attempted to influence public opinion about the goals of military intervention in this European conflict. A large segment of the U.S. population was opposed to America’s entry into World War I. Therefore, the government attempted to influence popular opinion by sending American artists overseas to depict the conflict in ways that would remind Americans what their boys were fighting for.

Students today are buffeted by many types of media that vie for their attention. Advertisements (both physical and digital), music, and social…

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Formulating Research Questions with Birds of Feather Collaboration and Writable Surfaces

The Unquiet Librarian


We’ve been partnering with Language Arts teacher Sean O’Connor the last few weeks as his students have been engaged in presearch around topics that students identified and developed around motifs and themes of To Kill a Mockingbird.  After participating in the reading frenzy activity, students left with a topic of interest that they wanted to explore further and refine through presearch.  After several days of gathering information and sources to build background knowledge, the students were ready to think about focusing their topics even more by developing a refining research question.    After some conversation, Sean and I thought it would be meaningful for students to collaborate and use the question lenses activity that my friend Heather Hersey shared with me last fall and that I piloted with Sarah Rust’s students.   We felt the question lenses would give our students a way of looking at their…

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A Report on the Network for Public Education Conference

Diane Ravitch's blog

I am writing at the conclusion of the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education. Last year, we met in Austin, this year in Chicago.

It was a smashing success! Attendance was 50% higher than in Austin. There were attendees from every corner of the country. All the sessions were held in the Drake Hotel.

Saturday opened with keynotes by Tanaisa Brown of the Newark Students Union, which launched the sit-in in Superintendent Cami Anderson’s office, and Jitu Brown of the Journey for Justice, which is generating civil rights complaints against several major cities.

There were many outstanding workshops during the morning session. At lunch, blogger Jennifer Berkshire interviewed bloggers Peter Greene and Jose Luis Vilson, which everyone enjoyed.

After lunch, Yong Zhao gave a scintillating multi-media presentation, which was both educational and hilarious. At one point, the entire audience stood to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which…

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Posted in Writing 101

Day Five: Writing 101: Be Brief

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Wow! Such a deep expression of love! I wish I could return it to the person so she would know how he feels.  Maybe I could. . .