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Learning Page Chat, October 21, 2004:


Room: ASO
LeniD joined the room.
BjB: |** ANNOUNCEMENT: The Library of Congress Learning Page Chat on Elections is starting shortly in the ASO. |

MichaelH: you've got a great US History topic, tonight, Leni
LeniD: Why don't we get started, Michael?
MichaelH: Leni, sounds good
LeniD: Without further ado...
MichaelH lets Leni have the floor

LeniD: In 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next Election, if we believe the newspapers.”
LeniD: This quote seems to reflect the passion many Americans seem to have about this year’s election.
LeniD: I'm curious... What do your students think of the election of 2004?
DanielO: They would agree with the newspapers. It seems like it's life or death for many of them.
LeniD: Pretty passionate?
DanielO: Yeah. Definitely. And one sided.
LeniD: If you have been teaching during other national elections, how does student regard of this year’s election process and candidates compare to previous elections?
MichaelH: Daniel, does the "Kerry Factor" in Massachusetts make your students more interested?
DanielO: Leni, it's a different group of students (I taught in LA for 5 years previous) but similar socio-economic sphere. It's definitely more passionate this year.
DanielO: Massachusetts may play a role, but I think it is more about social and economic issues.
LeniD: I agree, Daniel. We just published a number of "Dreams" on the Wall of Dreams in the America Dreams project. Students from Duarte, CA. were pretty passionate, too, about both candidates because of world and national issues.

LeniD: “There is nothing so deep and nothing so shallow which political enmity will not turn to account.” ~ John Quincy Adams
LeniD: How about this quote? Does it sound like today’s campaigning?
MichaelH: yes, it does
DanielO: As always.
LeniD: How do students feel about this?
MichaelH: I'm guessing they might be fed up with all the negative campaigning

JeffC: I want to pop in a link to an article by Ron Suskind that is very disturbing about this administration. Of course, it would be very difficult to use in the classroom, unless some "counter-article" could be found:
LeniD: Thanks, Jeff.
MichaelH: Daniel, I must have missed it... do you teach upper classmen?
DanielO: Yes, I'm sorry. I teach 10th and 11th grade.
DanielO: 10th is US, the other courses are 11.
MichaelH: so they aren't quite voting age yet.
DanielO: No. Although we did a unit on the importance of voting and they were really turned on
MichaelH: that's great!
LeniD: Excellent, Daniel!

LeniD: “Our differences are politics, our agreements principles. “
~ William McKinley
LeniD: I think today's candidates would say this is last quote is true...I’m not sure that the American people believe their actions support this belief, though.
LeniD: We will have to wait until November (we hope!) to learn the outcome of this year’s election.
LeniD: But we can look at Library resources that help explain and clarify our election process... or commemorate elections past.
LeniD: Are you ready to take a look?
MichaelH is
DanielO: yep
LeniD: We're off and running!

LeniD: A Guide to Election Law
JeffC: What bothers me is that teachers are directed *not* to look at the election in their classes... for fear that they will show their own biases.
MichaelH: Daniel, you'll want to click the blue link to look at the page Leni is showing.
MichaelH: but don't stray away long... Leni has more!
DanielO: got it, thanks.
LeniD: Really, Jeff? I always shared elections...but I also maintained neutrality – no matter how strongly I felt.
DanielO: It's like discussing religion.
LeniD: It's part of the fabric of civics and American can we ignore it?
MichaelH: always taught elections, too.

LeniD: Another link for you… Election 2000
That last one is part of the Minerva Project... which captured and archived web sites for this election.
LeniD: A Guide to Election Resources
MichaelH reminds everyone that all the sites Leni is sharing will be in your TAPPED IN transcript

LeniD: Learn about the presidents and their wives...
A Time Line of Presidents and First Ladies:
First Ladies of the United States
LeniD: Presidents of the United States

JeffC: These are all great links for teaching history... but I guess what I'm getting at with my above comment is to teach current events... and dealing with the current election... teachers in my district at least have been warned against teaching the election. I'd like to see students debating as candidates... bringing out issues... but it doesn't seem to be in the curriculum.
DanielO: when you say warned, what exactly do you mean? It seems like it would be an academic freedom issue to tell somebody not to teach elections.
LeniD: I agree completely, Jeff. I don't know how you could teach during an election year without making the election front and center in your curriculum!
MichaelH: Jeff, I think there can be some pretty good current events lessons that can be put together by using "critical elections" in US History.
LeniD: What I can share from the Library is historical, of course...that's what we "have"...but parallels can certainly be pointed out, as well as comparisons to past elections and events.
MichaelH: exactly, Leni!
LeniD: These political cartoons may be a good way to begin to do that!

LeniD: A lighter (or darker!) touch -
From Library of Congress Exhibits...
Oliphant’s Anthem: Presidential Campaigns
Herblock’s History: Political Cartoons From the Crash to the Millennium
DanielO: oh cool.
LeniD: While these may be a bit too edgy for the younger set, they could certainly be used with older students...
Humor’s Edge: Cartoons by Anne Telnaes
MichaelH is laughing at the Tehnaes cartoons
LeniD: She's good, isn't she? :->
DanielO: hehe

LeniD: Jeff, hopefully the following resources are useful, without pushing sensitive buttons...
From the Learning Page...
Elections - the American Way
And within that feature presentation...
For and Against ... political humor from the past...
American Political Parties Past
LeniD: This project originated in a videoconference "bowl" ... but a number of classrooms have since used it independently or as a school event.
Who’s That Lady? (Turn-of-the-Century First Ladies’ Bowl)

LeniD: From the Wise Guide: On the Campaign Trail

LeniD: Are you all familiar with the Web site, America's Library?
MichaelH: `:is
BJ Nods
DanielO: I don't think so.
LeniD: While the content is developed for the upper elementary and middle school set, it could also be used with high school students to introduce concepts. Would you agree Michael and BJ?
BJ: yes, Leni.
LeniD: See what you think...
MichaelH: yes Leni
LeniD: Carrie Burnham argued for the right to vote.
and the great debates of Nixon and Kennedy

LeniD: Today in History... Another good resource to introduce concepts...
The first uniform Election Day

LeniD: While the Learning Page offers dozens of lesson plans, we don’t have a lot of lessons about elections.
However, here are two lessons that may be of interest...
For grades 4-6...
Voices for Votes: Suffrage Strategies
For grades 9-12...
Women, Their Rights and Nothing Else

LeniD: Visit the Collection Connections for teaching tips to use with these election related American Memory collections...
American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873
LeniD: And here I will stop!
DanielO: Wow. So there are links to recordings of debates around WWI and the '20 election?
LeniD: Yep. We have marvelous resources, Daniel :-)

LeniD: You can find all of these resources, and more, in the Learning Page Community Center - Elections

MichaelH: Any questions for Leni tonight?
DanielO: are there video sources?
LeniD: Some, Daniel. There are Cybercasts by historians and luminaries, on the Library’s Web site.
DanielO: I'm sorry. What's a "Cybercast?"
LeniD: Video taped presentations, which are streamed from the site, Daniel.
DanielO: neat

LeniD: Jeff...I'm still thinking about your concerns about teaching the elections as current events.
MichaelH: Leni, I saw a very similar thing in the "CyberConvention" project teachers in my district are doing.
MichaelH: a teacher reported that she was forbidden to display pictures of Bush and Kerry in a bulletin board.
LeniD: Really Michael????
MichaelH: yes, Leni... I couldn't believe it either
LeniD: It’s deeply disturbing to think that we must keep "real life" out of our classrooms today.
MichaelH: I know a teacher should be "non-committal", but that seemed like overkill.
DanielO: We're supposed to teach critical thinking, but not about anything actually critical.
LeniD: Good point, Daniel. Critical thinking requires something real to think about! Yes?
MichaelH: I agree... it's one thing to force your opinion on another (like a student), but simply to deny the right to post pictures?
LeniD: Good teachers never force their opinions...and they "teach" their students to honor opinions that are different from their skills, right?
LeniD: But we can't ignore what is going on in our communities, our states, the nation and the world.
MichaelH: I sure agree, Leni.
LeniD: Getting off my soap box and back to business :->

LeniD: As we approach the national election of 2004, consider this quote from James Buchanan:
“The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among free men. “
After the election of 2000, one have to wonder if Americans still feel this is true.
MichaelH: I think what happened in 2000 is what is leading to what Daniel said at the start... all the interest in this year's election.
DanielO: what do you mean?
MichaelH: When you talked about how much interest your students had in the race - some people feel cheated that their vote didn't count in 2000 …. especially if you lived in Florida
DanielO: Yeah. True. But I think (to get on my own soapbox) that the last four years have also polarized the nation.
LeniD: I would have to agree, Daniel.
LeniD: True, Michael...but we, as educators, have to help today's students see that they can make a difference...not feel that what they do doesn't matter. Again, stepping down from my soapbox :-)
MichaelH: well, that's true... and maybe one of the reasons why this election is so important to a lot of people
MichelleDP: I think that you are right about the Florida votes - that was a mess. I have not heard a lot about education lately in the political arena.
LeniD: Agreed, Michael.

LeniD: Next month (November 18) we will be talking about and sharing political cartoons from the Library of Congress.
MichaelH: I'll look forward to that one, Leni!
LeniD: Please join us...
DanielO: I love cartoons. I'll be there.
MichaelH will be there
LeniD: Great! :-)
BJ applauds for Leni...thanks so much for the interesting resources!
MichaelH applauds, too!
LeniD: Thanks, Daniel! See you all next month....
LeniD: Night all :-)
DanielO: bye
LeniD: Well, it looks like a crowd is gathering for the next I'm going to leave you now! Night!
LeniD left the room (signed off).

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Last updated 10/25/2004