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Drs. John Saye of Auburn University and Tom Brush of Indiana University, co-directors of the Persistent Issues in History Workshop, will host a group of teachers from across the country in a two-week intensive training seminar, "Reasoning about Critical Issues of the Civil Rights Movement, " from July 14-25 at Auburn University.
The Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Workshop focuses on improving student thinking about history and helping them use their historical knowledge to make sound decisions about enduring societal questions. The PIH Workshop provides face-to-face seminars, and web-based resources, models, and support for teachers to reach this goal.
Saye, an associate professor in the College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Teaching (C&T), and Brush from the Indiana University School of Education have developed and field-tested an interactive, online database called Decision Point! (DP). DP is available online for teachers enrolled in the PIH Community and features two main components: an interactive database of multimedia content resources related to the African-American civil rights movement and supporting tools that guide learners in collecting, analyzing and evaluating historical evidence and presenting conclusions. The project is part of an on-going effort by the Secondary Social Science Education program in C&T to promote problem-based teaching and learning.
"What makes this different from other historical sites that have collections of primary documents is we're trying to give teachers and students tools to use the content and help them think," Saye said. "The whole idea of persistent issues comes from our hope of getting teachers to identify essential societal questions that come up time and time again. We want to help them conceptualize designing history units around those big questions."
After completing a competitive application process, 12 teachers were selected as the first wave of fellows to go through the two-week professional development training this summer. While they are in Auburn, the fellows will be introduced to the project philosophy and strategies and design activities using the DP resources that they will teach during the coming school year.
"We hope these fellows will serve as mentors for future groups that will all be a part of what we're calling the Persistent Issues in History Community," Saye said. "We're going to have part of the Web site as an on-going forum for teachers to talk with each other online and to post activities that they design for other teachers to use."
The PIH Workshop will offer more than just learning how to use DP and its resources. Dr. David Carter, an assistant professor in the AU College of Liberal Arts' History Department, will present two sessions of in-depth civil rights instruction.
There are also three special events planned in conjunction with the workshop that will round out the experience for the fellows. On July 15, the workshop will have "An Evening with Constance Curry." Constance Curry served as producer and researcher for the documentary, "The Intolerable Burden," which is based on her award-winning non-fiction work, "Silver Rights."
In the book, Curry examines the attempts of sharecroppers Mae Beth Carter and Matthew Carter to enroll their children in the public schools of Drew, Miss., in 1965. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in Haley Center, room 3472. The public is invited to attend. Curry will answer questions and sign copies of several of her books after the screening.
This is followed by a visit from U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia who is presenting the keynote address for the PIH Workshop on Monday, July 21, at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The public is also invited to attend this address.
A native of Troy, Congressman Lewis has been in the vanguard of progressive social movements in the United States for more than 40 years. He helped form and was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He participated in the sit-in movement, the Freedom Rides, the Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign, and was a keynote speaker at the 1963 March on Washington.
Lewis led more than 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remains a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence.
Elected to Congress in November 1986, Lewis represents Georgia's Fifth Congressional District and serves as a chief deputy democratic whip. He has the unenviable distinction of having been beaten and arrested more times for his beliefs and courageous stands than virtually any other civil rights activist of the 1960s. His biography, "Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement," describes his fascinating life odyssey. Congressman Lewis will be available to sign his book during the hour prior to his address.
"We really overuse the word 'hero,' but I think Congressman Lewis personifies what a hero is, and has through his whole life," Saye said. "He repeatedly put himself in danger to do what he believed was right."
The last event is a full-day field trip to Montgomery where the fellows will visit civil rights sites. The day will start at the Rosa Parks Museum, which is located on the campus of Troy State University - Montgomery. Director Georgette Norman, who helped Saye and his team plan this day, will give the group a tour of the museum. The fellows will then view "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks" which is produced by Teaching Tolerance, an educational outreach project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The film presents the birth of the Civil Rights Movement as more than a mere history lesson for the classroom, but also as a model for young activists who are looking to make a positive change in their communities.
The early afternoon will be spent at the Alabama Department of Archives and History where Leona Stemple, curator of education, will present "Meet History and History Makers" to the fellows.
The final event of the day will consist of a city driving tour of civil rights sites with Dr. Richard Bailey. A lecturer and tour guide, Bailey makes frequent appearances on radio and television to discuss Alabama history, southern history and contemporary issues.
"The most exciting part is we're actually going to get to talk with three participants of the Montgomery Bus Boycott," Saye said. "The final part of the day will be good because we'll get an insider's view and not just the well-known stops."
The PIH Workshop is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the AU College of Education, the Indiana University School of Education, the Proffitt Foundation, the Russell Corporation, the AU Department of Curriculum and Teaching, and the AU Center for Diversity and Race Relations.
Last Updated: Jun 16, 2011