The Princeton Seminar is Back!

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On July 23-July 29, 2017 we will gather together with a group of K-8 teachers to study Colonial America.  I hope you will consider joining us.  Learn how to apply here.

LOCATION

Princeton University

DIRECTORS

John Fea, Professor of History, Messiah College

OVERVIEW

Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms, examining how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called “Whig” interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical-thinking skills in the K–8 classroom.

TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATIONS

Participants will be staying at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia and is easily accessible by train. The nearest airport is Newark Liberty International Airport. For more information on travel to Princeton, please click here.

Workshop participants will stay in on-campus residence halls in their own room, but share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.

MEALS

Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

COURSE REVIEWS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS

“Dr. John Fea did a remarkable job sharing his knowledge in the area of the 13 colonies. His passion for history is evident in his lectures and I am more motivated today to teach tomorrow. I have always been intimidated by the 13 colonies because each colony’s background is so diverse. I have a better grasp on the colonies and I will be able to share primary documents to support the classroom learning. I am looking forward to teaching this in the coming weeks.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed the week in NJ. Strengthened my content background & walked away with tons of resources (primary specifically) to take back to my classroom.”

“This seminar was the best thing I have experienced in 25 years of teaching. Dr. Fea was outstanding and his lectures were riveting. I appreciated the content, the setting, and the master teacher’s assistance. It was amazing and memorable. I will certainly be applying this content and these principles to my teaching this year.”

GRADUATE CREDIT

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit to participating seminar teachers. For more information, please click here.

QUESTIONS?

Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

When
July 23rd, 2017 5:00 PM   through   July 29th, 2017 9:00 AM
Location
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
United States

The Reach of the Princeton Seminar Extends to Shelby County, Alabama!

Ann Jay

If you read The Way of Improvement Leads Home regularly you know that for the past three summers I have spent a week in Princeton, New Jersey leading a week-long seminar for teachers on the subject of colonial America.  The seminar is sponsored by The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of America History and it draws history teachers from around the country.

This year one of our more enthusiastic and engaged participants was Ann Jay Harrison, a veteran fifth-grade social studies teacher from Shelby County, Alabama.  It was a pleasure getting to know her.  I was inspired by her zeal for learning and her love of history.

My introduction to Ann Jay came through this tweet, written about a week before the seminar began:

And then there was this tweet from back in May:

I didn’t think too much about this tweet until the seminar began and I learned that Ann Jay has a side business AS A TRAVEL AGENT!!!!! 🙂

When Ann Jay returned home after the seminar she did an interview about her experience with The Shelby County Reporter.

Here is a taste:

When Thompson Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher Ann Jay Harrison began the 2016-2017 school year on August 11, she said she had a renewed passion for what she was doing.

“This is my 26th year teaching.  All of a sudden, I am so excited again about teaching in the classroom,” Harrison said.  “It definitely renewed my passion.”

From July 24-29, Harrison was one of only 35 teachers from across the nation who was chosen to attend a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at Princeton University.

The seminar focused on American history before the Revolutionary War, and sought to strengthen teachers’ use of promoting primary sources in their students’ work.

Read the rest here.

I should also add that most of the credit for Ann Jay’s experience with primary sources belongs to my partner-in-crime Nathan McAlister, the Princeton Seminar’s master teacher and coordinator.

Colonial History in DNC-Infested Philadelphia

Yesterday I spent the day in Philadelphia with thirty-six history teachers from around the country.  These teachers were chosen by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History to join me and Nate McAlister, the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year, to participate in a six day summer seminar at Princeton University.  This is the third year we have conducted this seminar.  We call it The Princeton Seminar.  You can see what we are up to by following us @princetonsemnr

This year our day-trip to Philadelphia coincided with the Democratic National Convention. We took a lot of pictures.  Here are some of them:

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While waiting for our bus I read the teachers some interesting material on George Whitefield from an article by historian Jessica Parr

 

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We sat in DNC-related traffic on Route 95 and got into the city late.  As you can tell, I was not happy about it.

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We made it to Philadelphia. Our tour guide John Ingram was ready to go!

Dean

This pic was taken about two minutes after I tried, unsuccessfully, to chase down former Vermont Governor Howard Dean to thank him for his very funny ending to his DNC speech on Tuesday night

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I met a very enthusiastic DNC delegate from Texas  Could not resist the pic

Indy

Our teachers loved touring Independence Hall

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Not everyone was happy that the DNC was in Philadelphia.  This flag flew in Elfreth’s Alley

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Standing on Market Street.  Notice what is behind me

 

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Standing on Market Street.  Independence Hall was behind me (see pic above).  THIS is what was in front of me. (I will let you draw conclusions)

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End of the day: Some very tired history teachers

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Our fearless leader, Nate McAlister, makes sure all the teachers made it back to our rendezvous point

The Gilder-Lehrman Institute Princeton Seminar on "The 13 Colonies" is Back!


If you are a K-8 teacher and are looking for a professional development opportunity this summer mark your calendars for July 24-30, 2016.  Consider applying for our Gilder-Lehrman Institute summer seminar on “The 13 Colonies” at Princeton University.

Some blog posts from previous years.

Learn more about how to apply for the seminar here.  

Here are few endorsements from K-8 teachers:

  • “Dr. John Fea did a remarkable job sharing his knowledge in the area of the 13 colonies. His passion for history is evident in his lectures and I am more motivated today to teach tomorrow. I have always been intimidated by the 13 colonies because each colony’s background is so diverse. I have a better grasp on the colonies and I will be able to share primary documents to support the classroom learning. I am looking forward to teaching this in the coming weeks.”
  • “Thoroughly enjoyed the week in NJ. Strengthened my content background & walked away with tons of resources (primary specifically) to take back to my classroom.”
  • “This seminar was the best thing I have experienced in 25 years of teaching. Dr. Fea was outstanding and his lectures were riveting. I appreciated the content, the setting, and the master teacher’s assistance. It was amazing and memorable. I will certainly be applying this content and these principles to my teaching this year.”






Congratulations Dave McIntire!

Dave McIntire teaches history at the Independent School in Wichita, Kansas.  I just learned that he was awarded the Judy Cromwell Excellence in Teaching Award from the Kansas Council for Social Studies.  Read all about it here.

Why am I bringing Dave’s accomplishment to the readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home? Because Dave was in our Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History summer seminar on the 13 Colonies in 2015.

Congrats, Dave!

"The 13 Colonies" Gilder-Lehrman Seminar at Princeton is Back!

The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History just released its Summer Seminars for 2015.

Once again I will be doing a seminar on the 13 colonies at Princeton University for K-8 history teachers.  Head over to the Gilder-Lehrman website to learn more about how to apply for these free seminars.  If you are selected, Gilder-Lehrman covers all your expenses for the week, including travel to Princeton.

In addition to attending daily lectures and preparing a lesson on colonial America, the members of last year’s seminar spent a day touring Philadelphia, took a twilight walking tour of early American Princeton, and spent a couple of hours in the Princeton rare book room examining copies of seventeenth and eighteenth-century texts.  The food at Princeton was pretty good too.  So were the accommodations and the ice-cream at The Bent Spoon!

2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day Six Recap

Friday was the final day of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute seminar for K-8 teachers on “The 13 Colonies.”  We had a discussion of The Way of Improvement Leads Home followed by a lecture on the First Great Awakening and a lecture on the anglicization of colonial America.  In the afternoon the teachers presented their lesson plans to Nate McAlister and each other.

I am always amazed at the way people respond to Philip Vickers Fithian’s story in The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  One teacher from West Palm Beach, Florida said that she finished the book at Starbucks and was so moved by the ending that she started to cry.  She told me that she immediately called her daughter to tell her about the book. 

After dinner on Friday night I went out for a drink with Nate and we reflected on ways that we could improve on the seminar if Gilder-Lehrman asks me to do it again next summer.  

It was a great week in Princeton and I am honored to have been able to work with such a gifted group of K-8 teachers.

If you want to know what happens at one of these seminars head over to our Twitter feed.

Here are a few of those tweets:



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2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day Five Recap

Gilder-Lehrman Institute seminar for K-8 teachers on “The 13 Colonies” is winding down.  The teachers are hard at work on their lesson plans under the direction of Nate McAlister.   Before they leave they are required to post the plans to the seminar blog.  

I am pleased to see the way the teachers have bonded with each other over the course of the week.  Princeton is a great place to hold a seminar like this.  The teachers can spend their evenings shopping, eating, drinking, and walking on Princeton’s Nassau Street.  Popular stops include drinks at Nassau Hall, Labyrinth Books, the Bent Spoon ice cream shop, and the Princeton University Wawa.

On Thursday we spent the morning discussing Pennsylvania.  We tried to look at Penn’s colony from all angles.  I gave them a lecture on Quakers, religious and ethnic pluralism, and the idea of Pennsylvania as a “liberal” colony.  In the afternoon we got started on the American Enlightenment using my four point definition of the Enlightenment in The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

After the session we headed over to the Firestone Library where rare books curator Stephen Johnson showed the teachers a few dozen eighteenth-century volumes that I selected from the Firestone’s collection.  I focused my choices on books that I would be referencing in my lectures and books that were read by Philip Vickers Fithian.  They were also introduced to the Princeton children’s library and shown effective ways of teaching colonial America through objects.

This was one of the highlights of the week.  Dana Sheriden of the Cotsen Children’s Library mesmerized the teachers with her presentation.  Stephen Johnson answered questions about early American books and printing.  And the students got to hold and read books by Phillis Wheatley, John Locke, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Matther, Addison and Steete (The Spectator), Samuel Richardson, and Laurence Sterne.  The room was buzzing with activity as these teachers read, discussed, and wondered over these rare books.  It was fun to watch and experience.

Here are a few pics:

The teachers loved the book of Phillis Wheatley’s poetry


Elissa, Carmen, and Meghan discussing The Spectator
Shawn is really digging in to Jonathan Edwards’s The Nature of True Virtue


2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day Four Recap

Day four of the Gilder Lehrman “13 Colonies” Summer Seminar is in the books.  We spent the entire day in Philadelphia where the one and only George Boudreau gave us a tour of the colonial city.  I asked him to lead this tour because there is no person on earth who knows the colonial city any better. George did not disappoint.  He is the author of Independence: A Guide to Historic Philadelphiaa Benjamin Franklin scholar, and the new director of the public history program at LaSalle University. The teachers could not stop talking about his entertaining and very informative tour.  It was a perfect setup for today’s lectures on Pennsylvania and the middle colonies.  

Here are some pics:

George Boudreau explains the Philadelphia “grid” at Welcome Park
George signing copies of his book Independence
Some very happy teachers cramming into George Washington’s pew at Christ Church


It was good to spend the day with George Boudreau


2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day Three Recap

Day three of the Gilder Lehrman “13 Colonies” Summer Seminar was packed with activity.  The first morning lecture was on race and labor in colonial Virginia.  We then moved north to the New England colonies. Before lunch I gave a lecture on the way Puritan theology informed everyday life in Massachusetts Bay. After lunch we focused on New England social history with a particular focus on women and marriage, Puritan towns, and the Puritan relationship to the market.   Nate spent the afternoon working with the teachers on some lesson plans on George Whitefield’s relationship to Benjamin Franklin. 
After dinner we all headed over to the Historical Society of Princeton on Nassau Street for a tour of early American Princeton.  Our tour guide, Dick, a retired advertising executive and publisher, took us to the Princeton Battlefield monument, Morven (the 18th century mansion of Richard Stockton), Nassau Hall, and several other sites.
Following the tour some of us headed down Witherspoon Street to the Nassau Presbyterian Church Cemetery  (Princeton Cemetery) where we visited the graves of Aaron Burr, Sr., Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Samuel Finley, John Witherspoon, and Grover Cleveland.  If I get to do this seminar next year I am going to have a full session in the cemetery.
It has been fun watching the students make connections between the eighteenth-century sites in Princeton and the stuff they have read in The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  
Here are some pictures from the day:
Dick, our Princeton tour guide
Morven: The Home of Richard Stockton.  This is the original 18th century part of the mansion
Our Princeton tour guide Dick explaining the Battle of Princeton

Image of the Day: At the Corner of Bayard Lane and Boudinot Street

I can’t escape the history of the American Bible Society!

I am in Princeton this week doing a Gilder-Lehrman Seminar on the 13 colonies.  The place where I am staying is on Bayard Lane, one block from its intersection with Boudinot Street.

I don’t know which members of the Bayard or Boudinot families these streets are named after, but I do know that Elias Boudinot and Samuel Bayard were both part of the group that founded the ABS.  Both families also had Princeton connections.

What are the chances of someone like me landing in a hotel at the intersection of these two streets?  Strange.

2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day Two Recap

Firestone Library–Princeton University

It was a full day in Princeton.  The Gilder-Lehrman “13 Colonies” seminar is off to a great start (or at least it is from my perspective as the instructor).  We started the day problemetizing the “Whig” interpretation of history and trying to imagine what the history of the American colonies might look like if we did not view the colonies solely as a precursor to the American Revolution.  Alan Taylor’s American Colonies was very helpful on this front.

We spent the rest of the morning on native American history.  Most of what we discussed was informed by Taylor’s American Colonies, James Merrell’s The Indians’ New World, and Dan Richter’s Facing East from the Indian Country.  My goal was to get these K-8 history teachers to see the world through the eyes of the native Americans, to get them to think culturally (rather than geographically) about the concept of the “New World,” and to see moments of native American agency on the “middle ground.”

After lunch we began our exploration of the early Chesapeake by exploring death and mercantilism in Jamestown.  This morning we will finish that story.

Nate McAlister is my partner in crime this week.  Yesterday afternoon we met with Stephen Ferguson, the rare book librarian at Princeton’s Firestone Library.   On Thursday afternoon we are taking the teachers into the Firestone so that they can touch, hold, read, and discuss some seventeenth and eighteenth-century books.  I get the privilege of creating the book list.  Nate and Stephen suggested that the list should include everything read by Philip Vickers Fithian.  We may also get to look at the original diaries that I worked with for The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  This should be exciting.

2014 Gilder-Lehrman "13 Colonies" Seminar: Day One Recap

As many of my readers know, I am at Princeton University this week leading a Gilder-Lehrman Institute seminar for K-8 teachers on “The 13 Colonies.” Last night we had a nice reception/dinner with the teachers and it looks like it is going to be a fun week.  They seem eager to explore Princeton (and later in the week Philadelphia) and think about colonial history. Nate McAlister, my co-laborer this week and the real leader/organizer of this seminar, started the night off with some trivia questions from the books I assigned the teachers to read in preparation for the week.  One of the questions was “Who was the man who opened an academy in southern New Jersey and got Philip Vickers Fithian started in his pursuit of education?” I was amazed how quickly one of the teachers answered this question.  It looks like they have read the material. (Did I mention that I assigned The Way of Improvement Leads Home?). By the way, can you answer this question?  Write your answer in the comment section below or on Facebook.

As some of you may also know, there is a seminar over at Princeton Theological Seminary this week on the history of church and state in America.  As I walking down Nassau Street last night on my way to the reception I ran into Baylor University’s own Thomas Kidd and his family. It was good to see him and meet his family.  Tommy is co-leading this seminar along with Gerald McDermott.  It is a very small world.

Next Week: The "13 Colonies" at Princeton University

The seminar will be held in Princeton’s Lewis Library

On Sunday I am heading to Princeton University to lead a week-long Gilder-Lehrman Institute summer seminar on “The 13 Colonies.”  This weekend K-8 teachers will be arriving at Princeton from schools in Illinois, California, New Jersey, Utah, Washington D.C., Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.  I also get the privilege to work with Nate McAlister, the 2010 National Teacher of the Year!

I will lecture in the mornings and Nate will work with the teachers on lesson plans in the afternoon. We also have a few special things planned, including a tour of historic Princeton and Princeton University and a day in colonial Philadelphia with George Boudreau, the newly appointed director of the Public History M.A. Program at LaSalle University and the author of Independence: A Guide to Historic Philadelphia.  We will also be reading The Way of Improvement Leads Home and Alan Taylor’s American Colonies.

I hope to blog my way through the week. Nate and the rest of the participants will be tweeting: @princetonsemnr 

I Get to Work With the Gilder-Lehrman Institute National Teacher of the Year!

As some of you know, I am leading a week-long Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History seminar this summer at Princeton University.  The seminar is geared toward K-8 teachers and will focus on “The Thirteen Colonies.”  (Sorry, the application window is now closed).  Just yesterday I learned I will be assisted in the seminar by Nate McAlister, the 2010 Gilder-Lehrman Institute National Teacher of the Year.  Nate teaches 7-8 grade social studies at Royal Valley Middle School in Mayetta, Kansas.

If you are taking the seminar, we already have some cool things planned.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, here is Nate:

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K-8 Teachers Who Teach Colonial America: Join Me at Princeton This Summer

Nassau Hall, Princeton University, 1760

You may recall a few weeks ago I announced that I will be teaching a Gilder-Lehrman Teacher’s Seminar this summer on “The Thirteen Colonies.”  The seminar will run from July 27 to August 2, 2013 on the campus of Princeton of University.  My seminar is open to K-8 teachers only.  

We are currently in the planning stages, but I am getting excited about leading this seminar.  We are working on a full-day field trip to Philadelphia, an early evening walking tour of historic Princeton and Princeton University, and, of course morning lectures and discussions, and afternoon work with one of Gilder-Lehrman’s “master” secondary teachers who will be joining us for the week. All these details will be finalized soon.  I hope you will apply and consider joining us for what promises to be a very educational and historical week in the heart of the colonial mid-Atlantic.

Here is a description of the seminar:

This seminar will examine the founding, settlement, and development of the thirteen British colonies from 1607 to 1763. Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms. Through lectures, readings, discussions, and other activities will we examine how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts  to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called Whig interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical-thinking skills in the K–8 classroom.

Learn more about the seminar here.  Applications are now open.  I hope to see some of you at Princeton University this summer! 

Attention K-8 Teachers: Join Me at Princeton University for a Gilder-Lehrman Institute Summer Seminar

Princeton’s Historic Nassau Hall

I am really excited to be doing a Gilder-Lehrman Summer Seminar this summer on the topic of “The Thirteen Colonies.”  The seminar will run from July 27 to August 2, 2013 and will be open to K-8 teachers only.  Each summer the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History offers forty intensive seminars for school teachers taught by the likes of Collin Calloway, Richard White, Thomas Sugrue, Matt Pinsker, Patricia Limerick, Joseph Ellis, Eric Foner, Kenneth Jackson, Allen Guelzo, John Demos, Gordon Wood, Ed Linenthal, Carol Berkin, Peter Onuf, Frank Cogliano, David Blight, Gary Gallagher, David Kennedy, and Jeremi Suri.  They pay for the costs of travel, housing, food, and course materials.  It is a wonderful professional development experience.

Here is a description of my seminar:

This seminar will examine the founding, settlement, and development of the thirteen British colonies from 1607 to 1763. Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms. Through lectures, readings, discussions, and other activities will we examine how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts  to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called Whig interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical-thinking skills in the K–8 classroom.

Learn more about the seminar here.  Applications are now open.  I hope to see some of you at Princeton University this summer!