13 November 2010

Where I've been, where I'm going...


It has been some time since I blogged. I am finding my new position a great professional challenge (in other words, it’s something new and very different). I’ve always enjoyed organizing things, so, really, this is right up my alley. I’m learning new things and recently gave input on a grant the district is applying for. That was an interesting process; I learned a lot about grant language, buzz words and creating a budget.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t left me much time for blogging or even trying out new strategies in the classroom. This is also the first year in my entire career that I am not teaching history or geography.
I was not expecting to miss teaching history quite as much as I do. Even my students ask me if I miss it. My journalism classes are great this year (newspaper and yearbook), but I do pine for my social science classes.
Last week, while at our first Lecture/Workshop we discussed how to take the ideas from the morning and apply them in the classroom. I found myself wishing that I had a class to work with so that I could try the ideas that the group came up with. I realized, however, that I could take many of the ideas and apply them to journalism and media studies.
Our morning lecture was devoted to Dr. Clarence Walker’s talk about his book “Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings,” where Walker posits that the U.S. has always been multi-cultural and it’s high time we admit that. He spoke eloquently about Hemings’ 38 year relationship with Jefferson and the 1998 media hoopla caused by DNA analysis of Hemings’ descendents that prove at least three of her children were fathered by Jefferson.
During the afternoon, 8th and 11th grade teachers discussed the meaning of the Jefferson/Hemings relationship, how to teach about Jefferson and how to teach about slavery (among MANY other related issues…such a great conversation). In the midst of all of this, we discussed James Callender’s attack on Jefferson using the media. That was when it hit me.
I could teach a great deal about U.S. history through Journalism. Why couldn’t we take media accounts of the Jefferson/Hemings relationship through history and look at the different ways the topic is discussed. How does a changing political climate effect the language used to describe a hot-button relationship in our history? My next task is to find newspaper articles that discuss the relationship, then I can write up the lesson!