Teachers Enjoy ‘Revolutionary’ Trip to Eastern Seaboard, Thanks to U.S. DOE Grant

HISD history teachers pose at the Bunker Hill Monument commemorating a battle in the American Revolution, a stop along the Freedom Trail in Boston, Mass.

Many teachers use the summer months as a time to deepen their knowledge of various subjects, but one group of 36 history teachers took that activity to the next level this year.

The educators, who came from 30 different HISD campuses, developed a new appreciation for this country’s origins and some of its most unconventional thinkers by exploring some of the most historically significant sites related to “revolutionary” activities June 9–15.

The trip was funded by a Texas Teachers Teaching American History (.pdf) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and participants were selected through a competitive application process.

Teachers visited The Freedom Trail in Boston, Mass.; a recreation of a 17th-century English village in Plymouth, Mass.; Walden Pond in Concord, N.H. (which so inspired writer Henry David Thoreau); and the childhood home of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott; as well as many other sites.

“What better place to begin to explore than in Boston—one of the places that was so instrumental in shaping early American history?” asked Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Manager Angela Miller. “Boston’s influence, however, did not stop with the American Revolution. This area was a leader in many other economic, social, and political revolutions, such as transcendentalism.”

HISD history teachers exploring Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the Pilgrims’ original settlement in 1620.

Jennifer Chase, a world history teacher at Milby High School, said the trip affected her understanding of how profoundly geography can impact history, and made her want to collaborate more with geography teachers to help students understand the connections.

“When you go to Plymouth (Mass.),” Chase said, “all you see is granite everywhere. The buildings are granite, the landscape is granite…and it hits you that this was really poor farmland. One of the reasons that industrialization came to the Northeast is because of that and the fact that it had so many rivers capable of sustaining steam power. That underpinning of geography led to the difference between the North and the South in the United States…the industrial North versus the agricultural South. It was so obvious once I got there, but I just didn’t appreciate it before.”

For more information about Texas Teachers Teaching American History (T3AH), please visit the organization’s website. Teachers who participated in the summer trip will develop exemplar lessons as a result of their experiences and share them with all HISD teachers via the T3AH website.