Portland teacher Bill Bigelow breaks it down.You're probably wearing green and pining for a Guinness right about now. That's cool. Happy St. Paddy's Day! But Bill Bigelow, a master educator in Portland who taught at Franklin and Jefferson high schools for years, wants you to honor Irish Americans in a different way. Bigelow, curriculum editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, this week penned an eye-opening article for the Zinn Education Project on the Irish potato famine—and the misinformation U.S. textbooks tell students about the largest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. (The project honors the late Howard Zinn, the historian who wrote A People's History of the United States.)
Radio BroadcastHow did the 8-hour work day come about? Do local students know about Lucy Parsons and the first May Day (in 1886)? Do you? Women played important roles in labor history, but their perspectives are sometimes overlooked. In honor of women’s history month, the Zinn Education Project (ZEP) has just released new resources on this topic. Veteran teacher and ZEP staff member, Julian Hipkins, III, joined the Education Town Hall to talk about the new materials and ZEP’s dedication to promoting a more accurate and complex understanding of United States history, inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Here also is the “Teaching about Selma” materials mentioned in our conversation. Interview with Julian Hipkins III starts at 30:00.
Bill Bigelow is an educator and activist who taught social studies in the Portland Public Schools for more than 30 years. Though he has left the classroom as a full-time teacher, he is actively involved in the U.S. educational system through his work with both Rethinking Schools, a quarterly magazine that focuses on critical issues in education from a social justice standpoint, and the Zinn Education Project, a project that provides teachers with resources to teach outside the textbook and to present a more honest, critical and full portrait of the world.
I first became familiar with Bigelow’s work in a classroom on the Quileute Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I was teaching Family Literacy to a group of Native American and Latina women. Looking for something to supplement the materials I was using, I found a curriculum called “Discovering Columbus,” written by Bill Bigelow.
It wouldn’t be until I moved to Portland in 2011 that I would meet Bigelow in person purely by coincidence. He is a gentle and curious man with a passion for education, justice and fairness. I sat with Bigelow to ask him about the plight of, and hope for, our educational system.
Many of the scholars who gathered at Vanderbilt Hall for a recent daylong symposium on Howard Zinn shared a common quirk of speech: They tended to refer to the icon in question as “Howie.”
That’s because more than a few of the assembled admirers of Zinn’s work—including NYU history professor Marilyn Young and writer Alice Walker—were also students, colleagues, or personal friends of the popular historian and lifelong activist who died in 2010.
Lesson planning is an art. A good lesson requires a fine balance of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), creativity, student buy in — and, of course, content.
While public perception can reduce the role of teachers to mere conveyers of information — as if knowledge is spread through osmosis — the actual process of creating an engaging, innovative, and informative lesson is far more complex.
Working in isolation to create the "perfect" lesson is time consuming, and relying too heavily on textbook curricula can feel uninspired.
Luckily, there is a happy medium... The below sites are awesome resources to get the juices flowing and inspire teachers to push innovative lessons into their classrooms, without reinventing the wheel.
March is Women's History Month, and International Women's Day, March 8, is also a part of the celebration each year. For educators and students, the month provides a wonderful opportunity to dig deeper into women's contributions, struggles, and triumphs throughout history.
By Richard Byrne
A People's History of the United States is frequently used by teachers of U.S. History because Howard Zinn's book tells the history of the United States in a way it is quite different from typical U.S. History textbooks. A People's History of the United States gives students an alternative perspective on history.
The Zinn Education Project is a website designed to help teachers use A People's History of the United States in their classrooms. The Zinn Education Project provides complete lesson plans for use in elementary school, middle school, and high school settings. In some cases the lesson plans include document excerpts and references to A People's History of the United States. On the Zinn Education Project site you can search for lesson plans by time period, theme, or by student reading levels.