The Reconstruction Teach-In at Howard University exceeded my expectations for History-oriented Professional Development. As a Humanities (integrated Language Arts and Social Studies) teacher in a mixed-age classroom, I have often only briefly addressed Reconstruction as a part of my American History curriculum because it is perceived as an unpleasant period of history that ultimately led to Jim Crow.
The Zinn Education Project teach-in offered me a well-rounded way to present Reconstruction – from its successes to its failures. The mixers presented by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca are something I envision using in my classroom. In fact, I’ve already used the “Write that I” poem exercise that we briefly did as part of the “Poetry of Defiance” lesson plan, but modified it for Earth Day. I can’t wait to use it when I present Reconstruction at the beginning of next year.
Dr. Gregory Carr’s post-documentary talk brought to light the many gaps that exist in the current Reconstruction narrative, and he provided meaningful supplemental resources we can use in our preparations for teaching Reconstruction in addition to the new PBS documentary.
It was refreshing to be in a room with like-minded educators who wish to expose our students to the narratives that have been discounted and devalued. The material presented was rich with primary documents and able to be immediately implemented in the classroom– a rare treat. I hope to attend more PD experiences such as this!