How to see Philadelphia history … through the eyes of a teacher

Editor’s Note: Our guest blogger today is Deborah Robledo, a high school teacher from Wylie, Texas.  She participated at the National Constitution Center last week in a Landmarks of American History teacher workshop funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Philadelphia personifies excitement.  There is so much history to see here!  There’s the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, and Elfreth’s Alley. (You have to love a street whose size could only traffic a horse and buggy!)

Summer workshop teachers

Only 40 applicants out of hundreds have been chosen to attend this week-long workshop on “A Revolution in Government: Philadelphia and the Creation of the American Republic.”  I pride myself on being one of them and having this opportunity to delve into the Constitution’s history.  

Our immerson in that story began with a tour of the National Constitution Center on Monday.  As we walked through the core exhibit we absorbed its messages highlighting America’s constitutional heritage, civic action, and democratic deliberation.

Monday afternoon we were enlightened and entertained by Dr. Gordon Lloyd, a brilliant professor from Pepperdine University.  His presentation included an in-depth look at his website teachingamericanhistory.org, which is a wonderful resource that I can’t wait to take back to my classroom.  We finished with a tour of the Center’s newest exhibit about George Washington.  And that was only the first day!

Throughout the rest of the week we were fortunate enough to receive numerous resources and insightful lectures.  Studying America’s revolution would not be complete without visiting the historical sites.  Of course, Philadelphia would have a heat wave that week!

We were given a wonderful walking tour by the National Park Service rangers, visiting sites from Independence Hall to the Second Bank of the United States, from the President’s House to the Graff House.

Dr. Richard Beeman made the Founders come alive with his lecture in Signer’s Hall.  Jed Levin and the National Park Service’s Archeology Lab gave us a glimpse at the artifacts found on the National Constitution Center’s site and what they tell us about the people who lived there.   The high-tech experience at the WHYY studio gave us ideas about how to fuse history, technology, and journalism.  Closing the week with a lecture by Dr. Ralph Young on the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers was a perfect end to a fulfilling week.

I feel fortunate to be in the midst of many devoted, skilled, and knowledgeable teachers.  Even more impressive is the fact that we were joined by international educators from Thailand, Nepal, and Turkey.  What a wonderful group with whom to improve our skill sets! 

As teachers experiencing the workshop we thrust ourselves back into the role of students this week.  As students, we gained new insight and information into history and how to bring it to life with our students.  Thanks for the enlightenment!

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