Unfortunately I did not get to attend the previous cities of Boston,Philadelphia and Chicago, but traveling to New York was an awesome experience.  Being able to travel to the “Empire State” for two weeks was like a dream come true.  Reflecting back on the last two weeks and dissecting all the activities has brought back many memories.  The people,places, smells,tastes and noise will never be forgotten.  I will never forget the wonderful people who I got to share the trip with.  Going with colleagues that share the same interest and knowing that students will benefit from what we learned is what it is all about.  Hearing the history of New York from many wonderful and educated historians was well planned and appreciated.  One can not realize the pulse of New York until they have actually seen how the city operates.  Flying over the Big Apple and seeing all the structures in a small area is amazing.  It leaves a feeling of awe and wonder.  Then being able to see the tranquil land of upstate New York gives you the perspective that you are in two different worlds, yet the history is just as important.  I will always remember the sites we visited, but the history and diversity of the sate will have the biggest impact.

     Starting out in the city that includes eight million people and riding the subway that links them all together was truly an experience.  Transportation in New York is something that brings the city together.  When seventy-five percent of the people do not have a license, a mode of transportation is needed.  Riding the subway and first hand seeing the diversity of New York was an educational tool in itself.  One always hears about the crime in New York, but when I was on the subway did I in no way feel threatened or scared.  I was more nervous not being able to find my stop then worrying about the people on the car.  It was reassuring to hear Ed O’Donnell and Ken Jackson speak how safe the city is now.  I will always remember the green line, the six to the four, and seeing Dolores’s face as the doors closed.  By the end of our stay traveling the subway was routine.  Now I know why so many people do not drive.  The convenient access of the subway takes you to any part of the city and gives you an experience of a lifetime.  But the best experience is just sitting and watching all the people.  One cannot get a better social education then in New York.

     The diversity of the city is truly amazing.  Traveling from block to block or borough to borough and seeing the different cultures is like traveling the world.  Yet this uniqueness drives people to the city and makes it strive.  We saw how the Irish,Germans,Italians,Jews and Chinese all lived in the same area over time and they all still have symbolic ties to the area.  Twenty years ago one might not have been able to travel through these neighborhoods and experience the diversity, but the diversity is what makes the city safe.  Our tour guides emphasized that people are tolerant of each other here because they need each other.  It might be the safest “Big City” in the world.  Visiting the Bronx,Harlem and Lower Manhattan and hearing from Ed how the demographics have changed over time gave me a new perspective of these places.  They do care about their neighborhoods and it shows in their history and their vision for the future.  New York is constantly making improvements to make the city better, yet they will never lose sight of the history that built the city. These diverse people have over come tragedy in the wake of 9/11.  Seeing the World Trade Center aftermath and how so many cultures came together is a true testament to the people of New York.  With diverse cultures, comes diverse foods.  The foods that we tried was incredible.  experiencing such places as Lombardi’s, Carnegie Deli, Katz’s Deli, Culinary Institute only happens in New York.  Even getting a bagel or hot dog from a street vendor was an experience.  Going to Little Italy and having lunch at Dominicks, a true Italian operation was intimidating, but good.  And of course visiting the famous McSorley’s bar (twice) made the whole trip worth while. 

     Historically this trip taught me many things that will make me a better teacher.  Being able to experience first hand all the wonderful museums, houses, battlefields, monuments and cities will let me pass on information to my students that I would never have been able to do.  Without the guide of Ed, Ken, EY and Jim the plethora of information would not have been articulated in such a historical way.  Visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty was one of many highlights.  Being able to tour behind the scenes and explore the medical facilities was something I will not forget.  This is something new that I can pass along to my students.  Imagining what it was like for all those immigrants coming through this station and realizing these people impacted our country on so many levels.  Our country was built on immigration and standing on the main thoroughfare will never be forgotten.

     The site that had one of the biggest impacts is the African Burial Grounds.  Not knowing that this site even existed before coming to New York and actually seeing the grounds where 419 remains were unearthed truly was a sobering sight.  The sight was a cemetery for 15,000 Africans and their descendents including the young.  They were buried with respect and dignity according to African traditions.  Coins covered closed eyes, shrouds with straight bins, buttons, jewelry and shells were all found in the coffins.  Truly an educational experience.

     The last two sites that were at the top of the list were the Brooklyn Bridge and Cooperstown.  The bridge is everything we read about and more.  Going across the bridge and looking at the cables and the towers gives a greater appreciation for the architectural work.  Traveling the bridge at night and seeing the lights of the city was awesome.  Going to the Baseball Hall of Fame was the cherry on top.  Being able to see so much baseball history and knowing the impact this sport had on our country and people around the world shows that this sport is America’s pastime.  It has impacted race, gender, families, cultures and world events. 

     This trip cannot be described in a short blog.  Everything we did was truly an education.  It will help me become a better teacher with the documents, art and photos we observed.  Going to upstate New York and seeing the true beauty of the state was incredible.  It once again showed how diverse the state is and how historically the area changed America.  Thank you to all the wonderful teachers that went on the trip and thank you to Matt, Jonathan and Scott for organizing an incredible trip.  EY,Ed,Ken and Jim your wealth and passion for history was definitely passed down to many if not all the teachers.





The last day of our New York journey we travel to two historical Revolutionary War sites; Ft. Ticonderoga and Saratoga. We pick up our tour guide Jim and head to Ft. Ticonderoga where we learn that a pre-Revolutionary War battle actually sets the stage for the revolution. The French built a fortification to protect the waterways that were used for the fur trade industry. They called the fort “Carillon”. During tensions with the British in the seven-year war, a battle took place at Carillon that changed the views of the British military. The French had a force of 3,568 men compared to British forces that numbered about 15,000. The French led by Marquis de Montcalm’s small force repelled the massive British force which included the elite “Black Watch” regiment. The defeat did two things to assist the American victory in the Revolutionary War; it was a rallying cry that the mighty British could be defeated and many of the future American officers fought in this battle assuring that the Americans could match up with the British.

Seeing the fortifications in the field and  how they were on that very day made your mind wonder what it was like during that very battle. Showing students pictures of the area won’t due it justice. If students could actually be on the battle their minds would wonder and they would generate discussion.


Moving on to the actual Fort, and seeing the layout of the land and hearing the story of what went down in this area put everything into perspective. It will be neat to relate the stories about the fort back to my students when we do this unit. Those students that have been lucky to see the fort (Michael Z.) can relate to the surroundings. The fort was attacked six times in two wars, but never suffered a direct assault on its walls. Three times the outer defenses held against enemy troops and twice the fort fell when supply lines along the waterways could not be held. Seeing how the British put their guns on top of Mt. Defiance and knowing that the Americans were in trouble was amazing. The Americans like in Brooklyn Heights made a nighttime get away to escape the British stranglehold and lived to fight another day. Fortunately, Stephen Pell took interest in the site years after the war was over and preserved it to its former glory for all to admire.


Saratoga was our last stop on the tour. Jim dressed up like a French-Canadian soldier to display the times. The British goal was to cut off New Englanders from each other, get to Albany and take it over; this would help end the war. The Americans needed to stop them. At the Mohawk River, Horatio Gates takes over and boosts morale. They begin building fortifications at Bemis Heights to stop the British from getting their guns to higher ground. Our tour bus took us inside the battle lines which was neat to see. Today they are staked out with wooden poles showing the actual outline of the fortification. During this battle, the fortification had three key elements; bluffs close to the river, 80 foot ravines and a swamp area that is the only one of its kind. This area leads to Albany, so cutting off Burgoyne here is key. This is a great educational too for students. Explaining to them how strategies work in war and showing them how these fortifications are set up to ward off the enemy. These strategies will win or lose a war and change history. Seeing the actually areas where these strategies took place is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Setting foot on Barber’s Wheat Field where according to our guide Jim; American Freedom began. At this spot the British were defeated and began to retreat. The British who had the best of the best including the Grenadiers were no match for the American soldiers who kept coming and psychologically damaged the British. With a Pennsylvania rifle, Tim Murphy shoots Gen. Frazier and the road to freedom is on the horizon. Lastly we stopped at a symbolic monument representing Benedict Arnold, Jim compared him to present day Timothy McVeigh both served our country, but then turned on the country. This is a something to share with students and get their views on.

Experiencing the battlefields and seeing first hand what these men went through was priceless. Being able to communicate with my students what happened here and passing down the stories will make me a better teacher and legitimize my lessons.

Besides the actual battlefield and the lessons Jim presented, the interactive map in the museum explained visually and orally the actual depiction of the strategies of the battle. To bad we did not have time to finish watching it.

We ended our journey at a wonderful restaurant called Salty’s.  The staff was excellent and the food was awesome.  I had the Turkey plate and the portions were well worth it.  Watching Cody annihilate his liver and onions was impressive.




          In 1848, a group of women made a radical decision to hold a convention in Seneca Falls, New York challenging America to a social revolution.  At this time, women held an inferior status in society.  They could not vote, attend college, divorce husbands, sue, serve on juries, control money and in most cases own property.  Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott as well as other prominent women of the time met and wrote the Declaration of Sentiments challenging the above issues.  Over 300 people attended the conference including Frederick Douglass.  They met for two days creating a path that in time would change history for women.  The declaration was signed by 100 people at the convention.  Many did not sign in fear of repercussions for them or their families.  These women took a chance and became pioneers in social reform.  Interestingly enough, women would not get the right to vote for another 72 years. 

     In the classroom, teaching students the struggles that women went through to get these rights and the people they stood up to is something that should be discussed in class.  Having students create a timeline of history and including the roles of women and their rights is an activity we do in class.  A great activity in class is study gender stereotypes today.  We look at jobs, pay, education, clothing, and advertising.  Also, comparing women’s role in our country with other countries is an eye opener to students. 

     After leaving the museum we toured a few of the activist’s houses and saw where they met and organized.  The one house that sticks out was the McClintock house.  This is where the women met to write their declaration.  The McClintocks were also stout social reformists.  When religions were being challenged, the US was expanding and people were beginning to rebel, the McClintocks challenged government policy, health practices, slavery and women’s rights.  They worked to remove the barriers of bigotry and superstition.  They raised money to help with the anti-slavery movement and Indian affairs.  Their home was also part of the Underground Railroad where they harbored runway slaves.

     The Seward museum was a great museum.  The former governor and Secretary of State to Lincoln was a visionary.  His museum was filled with original artifacts including items with the Alaska purchase and part of his bloody bed sheets from the assassination attempt.  Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and informative and told many stories that I will be able to share with my students on the life of Seward.  Seward said that his three top policies during his time was a treaty with China, anti-slavery and the purchase of Alaska.  Another thing about the museum that will help in the classroom is the videoconferencing the museum offers.  They are able to bring the museum into the classroom bringing history alive for the students.

     Our day ended on a nice ride along the Erie Canal in Rochester.  The canal is an amazing feat of construction.  With about 500 miles of canal its locks system that we were able to go on were amazing.  The locks which carry the boat to different levels fills up with over 3miilion gallons of water in minutes.  It was a nice way to end a long day.






The Babe


     As a kid growing up around the game of baseball, you dream about two things; playing in the Major Leagues and going to the Hall of Fame.  Luckily for me, one of those dreams came true today.  Visiting the Hall of Fame truly did make the trip.  Baseball is not just about throwing, hitting and catching.  It is a game that has been played in peace and in war; a game that has brought countries together; a game that broke the color barrier and a game that women played when our country was in turmoil.  The history of baseball can be taught in the classroom in all content areas.  Baseball is a game of physics, poetry, inches and equality.  Baseball also has had its share of controversy; Blacksox scandal, racial discrimination, riots, labor strikes and steroids to name o few.  The game is so important to many Americans, that the government has stepped in on many of these issues.  Cooperstown is located in NY and has a population of 2,oo0 but during inaguartion, the town swells to 75,000. So visiting the Hall of Fame is not just about baseall, it is about life.

     Upon arriving we met in the education center.  Anna our tour guide gave a great presentation on bringing the Hall of Fame into the classroom.  She gave us samples for science, math, English, character education, race, gender, geography, economics and labor.  Another cool tool she showed us was video conferencing, linking students in the classroom directly to the hall.  It truly is a place for all teachers and students to be eduacated in a plethora of areas.

     The one that fits in with our school right now is the character education piece.  We are having a new curriculum for freshmen next year called Bulldog Pride.  This is to help freshmen transition into high school and make them feel pride about their school, community and education.  Having good character is something that these young students will need to be successful and using the baseball curriculum will be an interesting and exciting experience. 


     Once we were free to tour the museum it was baseball heaven.  Being able to see all the people that contributed to the game over the years was incredible.  Many of the events you see on television and remember how it unfolded.  The artifacts in the Hall are like all other museums there is a story about every artifact.  It is history frozen in time.  Reminiscing with others on the trip and hearing how they saw and remembered players was awesome.  People remembered players and events differently and bringing those stories together is what it is all about.  Seeing the Latin and African-American section was humbling.  These players went through a lot to play a game that they loved.  They had to knock down many barriers before they got there.  The sad part was many people that were great ball players never got to play in the Major Leagues because of their color.  Now Latin America is a breeding ground for the elite player.  How times have changed.  Also, going through the plaque room was awe inspiring.  Reading about all the players and seeing your favorite plaques is something I won’t forget.  What is fun is discussing the players that should be in the Hall and those that will be there soon.  The one thing that brought the Hall of Fame home was seeing the Rockies own Ubaldo Jimenez’s no hit baseball and cap.  If I were to have a favorite moment it was seeing Nolan Ryan and his seven no hitters.  He was my idol growing up and my son is named after him.  Baseball is the only occupation where if you fail seven out of ten times you still are a success (baseball fans know what I mean).  There is nothing better than the smell of the grass, crack of the bat or the pop of the glove; Baseball is Americana.



   By the way, we went to the Fenimore Art museum and the Farmers museum; two wonderful places.  The Fenimore Museum at a great Magnum Photo collection and the Farmers Musuem was neat because there was people working from the time period.  We did have a great dinner over looking Blackbird Bay.





“If one does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then they becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful.”

     This quote by Theodore Roosevelt is something we can take back to our class room to enhance lifelong skills to our students.  This is something Teddy Roosevelt did in his life.  He was a man who tried to live life to the fullest and follow his ideals.  Touring Sagamore Hills gave us a first hand look of how Roosevelt lived and what life was like for his and his family.  The beautiful grounds and house that was built for $16.700 is ninety percent authentic.  After his first wife Alice passed away after bearing their daughter, Teddy went ahead and built the house they were planning before her death.  When entering the house one would thingk they were on an African Safari, there are animal pelts, tusks and rifles throughout the house.  Teddy was a child trapped in a big man’s body.  This is how he lived life even when he was elected president.  He was a man who did not change who he was because of his political career, something that also can be taught to everybody.  The estate was like a big playground for the Roosevelt, family and friends.  When he was president it became his summer retreat, the first president to do so.  Everyone was someone at the home.  The servants who were Irish immigrants had nice quarters and were even able to discipline the children.  When Teddy was in the White House, some of the servants followed him.  Sagamore Hills had a different feel than FDR’s Hyde Park.  This was a huge playground and the home had a family atmosphere to it.  Teddy an avid outdoorsmen decorated the house with animal hides from all other the world.  He was an avid writer and reader which is why there were over 7,000 books in the house. Also on display were Remington sculptures and items from dignitaries around the world including a huge set of tusks that loomed in the family room.  I would take the Sagamore Hills estate o ver FDR’s due to the ambience of the estate.  Plus at Sagamore Hills mommy did not live there.

     His political career took him unexpectedly to the White House.  With the assassination of William McKinley, Teddy became President of the United States.  His above quote which was directed to his son Kermit followed him to the top job.  When he was in office he promoted social justice, racial equality and conservationism.  His ideals were put into motion as he fought big business and instituted government policies to break up trusts.  He also invited Booker T. Washington to the White House to improve racial tension.  Being an avid outdoorsmen, Teddy or Colonel as he preferred to be called, began a Nation Park preservation that protects our beautiful lands today.  Teddy lived his life trying to live up to his ideals.  He had some successes and failures along the way, but he died trying.

     Students in the classroom will be able to see how striving to fulfill your ideals no matter your failures is something that life is about.  When they see a president lived and enjoyed life, they will have a better understanding of how to strive for these ideals.  Also, by visiting sights of Teddy and FDR students will be able to compare their lives and come up with their own conclusions of the success of the two men.





     The above sculpture is called Wounded Scout.  Viewing this sculpture there can be many interpretations of what is going on.  This is what creates a great discussion in the classroom.  Generating prior knowledge skills and higher order thinking skills students will be able to learn what the message is behind art.  Using art in the classroom show images frozen in time and it is up to the audience to make conclusions about the art.  Each person will see different things in the image and as a teacher brining in all those things to create a story and teach the lesson is an excellent tool.  At the New York Historical Society we were able to see historical art and view the images.  We did a great activity in which we chose an object or image relating to African-American life.  After reviewing the image we had to generate inquiry-based questions to foster understanding of the object or image and the time period.  This was a great activity that will help students understand how images can help one understand historical periods.  During the activity people who viewed the same photo saw different things that helped others learn about the photo and time period.  This type of activity helps all learners and puts an image with what is being taught.


     Mia our teacher for the day demonstrated another activity that would be useful in the classroom.  She led a discussion that involved looking at photos during the Civil War of African-Americans.  By looking at the photos and having her generate questions that would provoke thought started discussions and learning.  Looking at the photo that turned out to be the New York riots led into a historical overview of the event.  Another great activity to promote prior knowledge and participation.  The materials that were provided the Historical Society are going to be a great teaching tool.


    After lunch, we went over to the Museum of Natural History.  Museums are a great place for students to learn about cultures and events.  Visiting the African section and seeing their culture before it was disrupted by slavery gave a better understanding of their heritage; something that should never be lost or taken from anybody. 

    We ended this day by attending a Yankee game.  Even though I am not a fan of the team, I wanted to see the tradition of the Yankees.  The highlight was visiting the Yankee Monument.  Having been around baseball my whole life it was still interesting to see the people that have contributed to the history of baseball.  Seeing the likes of Gehrig, Mantle, Jackson and Ruth it was worth it.  Then being able to see future hall of famers like Jeter, Pettite and Rivera the night was worth it.  I still like Coors Field much better.  An Elway sighting a Yankee stadium was cool.




Neil Diamond Sums It Up: COMING TO AMERICA


     Immigration is a very important part of our history and there is no better place to view this than Ellis Island.  Coming to America for a variety of reasons, immigrants from Europe got their first glimpse of America through Ellis Island.  Getting on the ferry and traveling to Ellis Island and seeing Lady Liberty was something I have been looking forward to.  Imagining what the immigrants went through as they were entering the harbor is impossible.  Their tribulations are something one cannot experience, but going to see this historical place and seeing the inside was truly remarkable.  Visiting a place where twenty million Americans came over for what they saw as a better life was an experience that will always be remembered.

     The tour we took was not going to be to the main hall where everybody was processed, but to the medical area.  This was very interesting to see because it is closed to the general public.  The area consists of thirty buildings that were used as medical facilities during  immigration.  Jessica our tour guide gave us a lesson that used primary sources from the Island and presented information from a new perspective that will help me in the classroom.  Anytime you can learn something that will help in the classroom is always a good thing.  Our first activity was a great activity that I will definitely use in the classroom for many lessons.  The lesson was a three-step process that included an object,document and photograph.  Step one was to look at objects and decide what they were and what they were used for. Step two was to review a document that went with your objects.  Last step was to review a photograph that put the object to use.  Once we were able to see the object in action, it was cool to see what it was actually used for.  Our group had objects that were used by Social Services in order to help those that were stuck on the island for weeks due to illness. The service provided arts/crafts, books, activities, skills and food.  Jessica also mentioned that over 90% of the photos we see at Ellis Island are staged photos.  This was something that was new to me, but when one studies the pictures there are clues to back up her point.

     The ward that we toured, which is in its original state (notice the hard hats due to construction) included; medical inspectors, psych, surgery, pharmacists, social services and contagious unit.  This is something we do not see on the Ellis Island website so it is something new we can bring back to our students along with the wonderful thumb drive that includes tons of primary sources.

     After the tour we got to see the public displays.  The wall with names of those who came through the island was cool.  Trying to find names of family members on the wall was something I looked forward to.  There were many Italian names I recognized like Scaturro and Chiarito, but only a few Burkes which is my ancestry.


After the Ellis Island experience we set sail to see the Statue of Liberty.  The sight was amazing nad something all Americans should see up close.  Unfortunately were not able to climb the statue, but seeing her beauty was something special.

     With all the primary documents we received and the new information from the tour, it will be exciting to teach this unit to my high school students.  Analyzing and getting them to use higher order thinking skills is something as educators we strive to do.

     Dinner was down by the Brooklyn Bridge where we eat more pizza.  The taste was good but not quite like Lombardi’s.  Our goal was to eat at Grimaldi’s Pizza, but the line was down the street and Ray was thirsty.


April 2018
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