Day 11: Dr. Pauline Maier and MHS

img_0556.jpg

Today was by far the one that will be the most useful for my content area. Dr. Pauline Maier of MIT spoke to us about her work on the creation of the Declaration of Independence, American Scripture, Making the Declaration of Independence. Her lecture was fascinating and she was in my opinion the best presenter we have had opportunity to hear. I intend to read her book a second time as now I have her words to reflect upon as I enjoy the work again. Her plea, “please teach our children about these documents” was outstanding. I have worked very hard over the past years to do just that, but I now have a renewed energy to head the call.

The Massachusetts Historical Society provided us with information today that should be a mandate for all teachers of American History and Government. I cannot wait to get home and put together my own lectures with visuals of the original documents, courtesy of the MHS.

I am very pleased to say that I believe this entire experience to be one that has helped me grow, intellectually, spiritually, and professionally. This expedition has been one that I will never forget and I promise my students will reap the benefits. If I have failed to say it before, I am saying it now with great sincerity, Thank You.

Day 10: Paul Revere and the Freedom Trail

Today was really fun. We took a nice walk through Boston’s famous North End. I would note, people around here do not seem to appreciate when this part of Boston is mistakenly called “Little Italy”, it should only be referred to as the “North End”. The first thing that I noticed when we stepped off of the bus at the home of Paul Revere were the amazing aroma’s. I immediately noted the numerous bakery shops and restaurants. The area itself was very quaint and charming with flowers spilling over their window boxes, brick buildings, balconies above storefronts, it was the picturesque scene from any good Hollywood production but it was real!

img_0496.jpg

In the middle of all of the brick buildings was a charming little wooden home, brown in color and very familiar. It was the home of our hero Paul Revere. The Paul Revere House staff was amazing. Gretchen Adams was our guide and has to be one of the nicest people I have ever had occasion to be around. She did a short group assignment with us that would be really fun to do in the classroom. The tour of the home itself was fun. The whole experience was one that has given me a true appreciation for the man who was Paul Revere. He really was an fine example of American ingenuity.

We then took a short walk and tour up to the Old North Church. It was beautiful. We got to sit in the pews and listen to a short presentation. It was amazing traveling the very path that Revere took to warn the Minute Men of the impending activity.

Now onto the battlefield. We made our way down the Freedom Trail to the Battle of Bunker Hill Memorial. We climbed to the top of the memorial which was a whopping 294 steps. My thighs are still a bit shaky! The climb was rough, but the sight of Boston from that height was amazing.

We finished up the day at “Old Iron-sides”. Yes, I got to step onto the U.S.S. Constitution. Commissioned in 1798, this spectacular vessel never failed to win during a battle. I truly cannot believe that I stood on a battleship from the Washington Administration. What a truly fascinating and proud opportunity. This experience will last in my memory for the rest of my life.

Day 9: The Boston Freedom Trail

Dr. Robert Allison started our day with a fabulous lecture on the Boston Massacre. His presentation provided keen insight into the Massacre and he asked the tough question, did the British soldiers act with intent to kill? His lecture really did illustrate the relationship that the citizens of Boston had with the military of Britain. The citizens of Boston were not depicted as innocent as they might have preferred history to pain them.

img_0436.jpg

One thing that I saw today really touched my heart. It was small statue of a bald eagle. The statue was a gift from Queen Elizabeth II during the 1976 Bicentennial festivities. here in Boston. She gave a brief speech to the people of Boston from the balcony of the Old State House and commented on the irony. She was proud the point that our two countries reconciled our differences and now work together to protect the freedoms that our forefathers worked so very hard to bring to America. It literally touched my soul. I was not yet 5 when she gave that gift and spoke those short words, but I got goosebumps as I read what had happened. What a true and honest victory for both America and Britain. (I will post a picture of the statue and statement hopefully tomorrow after I work through my memory issue here).

We took part in a Massacre Trial with classmates playing the roles of Bostonians who witnessed the Massacre. The trial was fully equipped with some classmates playing prosecution and defense attorneys. It was both entertaining and educational. I have done mock trials in my Civics and American Problems classes in the past, but have really gotten away from them. I think this experience will help me get back into the groove of some additional hands-on classroom experiences again.

Our focus was turned to the Old South Meeting House with a bit more role playing. The “No Tax on Tea!” presentation was again entertaining and relevant. I intend on using this one in my Civics classes when we talk about the events that lead up to our Declaration of Independence. The Old South Meeting House itself was a sight to behold and a proud piece of American History. I was very impressed with the preservation efforts that we have seen all along this journey.

Our day finished at the most impressive Faneuil Hall. In my opinion, the most beautiful public building that we have seen on the trip. Fortunately the Park Ranger was able to get us a “private viewing” of the impressive meeting room held within the historical site. One thing that I have noticed is how much the guides on this expedition have gone out of their ways to cater to us. I don’t think “thank you” says quite enough.

Day 8: The Massachusetts Historical Society

Today we went to the Massachusetts Historical Society. Our morning began with a wonderful presentation on the French and Indian War by Dr. William Fowler. Dr. Fowler’s lecture was very comprehensive and interesting. He provides a great perspective and was one of the friendliest educators that I have had the pleasure to meet.

img_0426.jpg

The most memorable activity of the day was posing for a picture with an original copy of the Declaration of Independence worth at least 9.5 million dollars. What an incredible opportunity to look at up close such valuable documents! The whole experience is one that I will be very glad to share with my students!

I finished up the day by getting my picture in front of Cheers Tavern. It was fun to see the inspiration for the television show. It is funny how much bigger things look on TV (haha). Sorry no pictures tonight…I ran out of memory and I have to decide if I am going to purchase additional memory.

Day 7: Lexington and Concord – The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Today was yet another long one, but definitely one of the most interesting. Our day started at the Hancock-Clark House, a famous stop on Paul Revere’s ride that was essential to colonials. He woke Adams and Hancock out of their sleep to make them aware of the impending arrival of the British Regulars. We saw the very bedroom from which they were so abruptly pulled from their dreams.

We visited both the Buckman Tavern where the patriots were planning, plotting, and gossiping about the actions that would change history forever. We continued onto yet another tavern, that of Munroe. On our brief walk to Munroe Tavern, we stopped and visited the area upon which the first conflict took place. At the tavern we looked at an impressive display of artifacts from the period that included furniture and dishes used by our very own George Washington.

The best part of the day came during the various presentations at Concord. The Minute Man Visitor Center and the rangers who presented did a fabulous job explaining the chain of events that would lead to our eventual liberty. The video presentation of the events was very entertaining as well as informative. I was captivated by the technology. It is so impressive to see how children (and adults) have the benefit of the marriage of technology and history. The rangers were very knowledgeable and eager to inform. The costumes were well done and really help one to see the details.

We finished up our day on the Harvard campus. Again, impressive. Cambridge was an interesting mix of people and obviously very expensive. We were home in time for some chores and tomorrow we can anticipate a bit later start (thank you Matt). Great day and perfect weather.

Day 6: Old Sturbridge Village

Today was a great one! We went to Old Sturbridge Village located about and hour and a half bus ride away. What a wonderful experience! This village was like one that would have existed in the 19th century. As far as educational sites go, this one was amazing. Similar to Plymouth Plantation, but much more hands-on.

The one thing that I know I will personally be able to use first thing in September will be the pictures and explanations of harnessing water power and the importance of water here in the East. Water is a major issue for us in the West and the same goes for those who have resided in New England both past and present. A working sawmill and blacksmith shop made the experience really a joy.

To cap the day, we prepared our own 19th century meal. We churned butter, stuffed chickens and prepared rolls and cake. The experience was invaluable to understanding the concept of hearth cooking. The people who lead the food preparation have astounding patience and skill. Sitting down to the table and eating our own fire cooked meal was truly an experience I will value and remember long after we have returned home. I purchased a Sturbridge Village cookbook and I seriously cannot wait to get home to try out the recipes.

Day 5: Maine, the “Frontier” and Lobster

Today started with a long bus ride to Colonial Maine. We toured Pemaquid State Park and the reconstructed Fort William Henry. Archeology digs and a reconstructed tower made this stop a good one. The views and the homes on this early historical site were truly a sight to behold.

The favorite stop of the day was the lighthouse along the way. Constructed in the late 19th century, this beautiful and functional point of interest was the perfect location to kick back for a short while. The seagulls were really a trip!

On to Augusta, the state Capital and home to Fort Western. The tour of the old fort was excellent and included colonial dressed guides who certainly had much to share. Cannons, cannonballs, and even early grenades made this tour especially fun. A very hands-on and kid friendly approach at Fort Western made this a particularly enjoyable stop on our expedition (we are all kids at heart and we got to touch stuff).

We then took a short journey up the banks of the Kennebec River. This was the river that made our “dear” Benedict Arnold a significant player in our country’s history. The trail was well kept and just beautiful. The day had officially become long at this point, but the “nature” walk was just what the doctor ordered.

Fresh and onto Freeport! Lobster dinner and shopping…what more could a girl ask for? The perfect end to a wonderful day. Oh, it wasn’t quite over until we completed the bus ride back to Salem. A fun movie made that trip an enjoyable one as well.