Texas Insights - May 2014

Volume IV, Issue 5

What’s New?

The spring semester is in so many ways the culmination of numerous efforts both inside and outside the classroom. It is also the season for a variety of contests and the recognition of hard work demonstrated by thousands of students and the teachers who guide them. Numerous organizations offer opportunities for elementary and secondary students to be creative and share their knowledge of Texas history, geography, civics, economics and other areas which comprise Texas studies. Please join us in commending the quality efforts demonstrated by our young people and their mentors in the programs listed below and consider these valuable programs as a way to strengthen and enrich your classroom and school programs next year. Simply click on the links below to see more about the winners and programs.

The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) offers a variety of programs with classroom and extracurricular connections. This year’s Texas Quiz Show program winner was from Sanderson Junior High School from Sanderson, Texas. They beat out teams from Plano, Del Valle, Anderson, Price, Clarendon, Mont Belview, and Brownsville to be the 2014 State Champions! On May 4, results of this year’s Texas History Day state contest were announced as nearly 1,200 students presented their various projects to see who would represent Texas at National History Day in June. Earlier this spring, TSHA’s Junior Historians program announced the results of its annual writing contest, history fair and chapter achievement awards. Last but not least, on March 7, Mary Scheer of Beaumont and Patricia Ritchie of Keller, were announced as the 2013 Mary Jon and J. P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award recipients.

Other organizations also work equally hard to provide engaging educational activities for our youth. The Texas Council on Economic Education offers a variety of programs including the Stock Market Game which is open to students in 4th through 12th grades. Tony Meza and his students from Falk Middle School in Brownsville were named the Top Stock Market State Winners, and the Texas Legislative Challenge winners are Michael Sweet from Carman Elementary in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD. The Texas Alliance for Geographic Education and various other organizations make the National Geographic Geography Bee available to students in 4th-8th grade, with Benjamin Benjadol of Central Junior High in Euless representing Texas at this summer’s national contest. Several organizations make writing and art award opportunities available including the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT), The Sons of the Republic of Texas, and the Texas General Land Office.

Of course, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) has local opportunities for middle school students and a state level structure for high school students. Law-Related Education sponsors, We The People, to promote civic competence and responsibility in Texas students. State champions, Granbury High School represented Texas in the national finals. A number of other opportunities are also available for high school students from organizations across the state. The Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, offers a high school history contest and congratulate winners, Autumn Boelen, Coletta Holland, and Lane Gaston from Saint Jo High School as the best overall group, Ethan Evens from Tidehaven High School as the best overall individual, Mason Ledwig of Tidehaven High School for best audio, Kailee Frost of Honey Grove High School for Best Images, and Sarah Patrick and Timothy Lindenborn from Saint Jo High School as the best use of text winners. 

You can find information about most of the above opportunities on TeachingTexas.org. Congratulations to all the students and their teachers for a job well done!



McDonald Observatory Exhibitbit 

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the McDonald Observatory with a new exhibit at The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. The exhibit, running from May 1 through June 29, 2014, features a 1,000 pound model of the Otto Struve telescope and beautiful representations of the night sky as seen from one of the best stargazing places on Earth. As a part of the anniversary celebration, The Bullock will host Exploring New Worlds: Amazing Planets Orbiting Other Stars, May 24, 2014, with Dr. William Cochran, research professor of astronomy at UT Austin and member of the Kepler Science Team, will discuss extrasolar planets, how we find them, and how we learn more about them. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.


Exploring Texas Workshop Series

The Region 10 Education Service Center and the Texas State Historical Association are proud to present the Energizing Texas History Conference, August 4-5, 2014 at the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson. This event for 4th and 7th grade Texas history educators will focus on the history of Texas from European colonization through Anglo settlement. Teachers will be able to choose from a variety of breakout sessions addressing historical content, geography, economics, civics, teaching strategies, and resources. Dates and locations for the 2014-2015 Exploring Texas Workshop series also include Lubbock on October 21, 2014, Austin on November 13-14, 2014, and Houston on February 12-13, 2015. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Featured Institution

Houston Arts and Media
By Mike Vance
Founder and Executive Director

Houston Arts and Media is an organization devoted to producing high quality film, video, books, web content and other media projects that address themes in education and Houston area history commonly neglected by commercial media companies.

Houston Arts and Media (HAM) began in the spring of 2005, when founder Mike Vance decided that he wanted to use his media background as a vehicle to promote education and to teach people about Texas history. He conceived of the non-profit organization, bringing other production, media, marketing and history people on board, and they immediately began hatching project ideas.

Our work has focused on local Houston and State of Texas history. In Houston and Southeast Texas, HAM has undertaken to preserve and document aspects of the city’s history that have not been covered before, such as the histories of Houston’s neighborhoods and the stories of Harris County’s historic schools. Especially popular are our HAM Slices of History, short web-based videos on a wide variety of stories from the area’s past and documentaries on a range of subjects. Our documentary work has run on Houston’s PBS affiliate and will continue to do so.

On the statewide front, we have already produced three of the eight feature length documentaries that will make up the comprehensive Birth of Texas Series. The first two titles, Spanish Texas and Houston: A Nation’s Capitol, have each garnered prestigious awards. For Houston: A Nation's Capitol, it was the Platinum REMI Award for Documentary at the 2011 WorldFest/Houston International Film Festival. For Spanish Texas, it was a Texas Media Award from the state’s DAR organization. Taken together, these eight videos will tell the diverse story of Texas from Spanish rule to finalization of statehood in 1846. The newest one is San Felipe and American Settlement, and it is debuting right now in May. We’ve already started post-production on the next title thanks to an especially generous grant from the Texas Historical Foundation.

Adding to our exciting news this month is the official launch of a website, www.birthoftexas.org, which will support these titles. As each film is released, we will add a teachers’ guide and a list of links for each title. It will offer a simple way to order DVDs of these important documentaries, as well.

We are also in the early stages of production on a feature length documentary on all aspects of the Texas Home Front during WWII. While the military side of WWII has been celebrated in numerous top-notch documentary projects, very few good resources document the amazingly active home front in Texas. There is so much material to cover, that this might end up being a two-part documentary. We have already captured over 55 interviews, most with Texans who personally took part in the war years.

In partnership with the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Society Daughters of the American Revolution, HAM produced With Respect: Preserving Historic Cemeteries. The twenty-minute video won the national first place preservation award from the DAR and was named Video of the Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is a valuable tool in promoting volunteerism at these sacred places.

We have already collected over 180 hours of oral histories from long-time Houstonians that we will be using in our projects, and have donated them to both the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at the Houston Public Library, and the Woodson Research Center at Rice University’s Fondren Library where they are available to all researchers.

We have worked not only with these entities but with many others including the Texas State Historical Association’s Teaching Texas program, the premier way to bring our Texas history projects directly to the classroom. Other cooperative projects have been undertaken with the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission, Museum of Printing History, the Harris County Historical Commission, the Houston History Association, HISD and other Texas school districts, the Heritage Society, Friends of the Texas Room, Olivewood Cemetery, Retired Houston Police Officers, MECA and Historic Houston. Many of these relationships are ongoing.

HAM holds an annual Houston History Book Fair in partnership with the Houston Public Library on the second Saturday of November each year. It is the only free event in town that allows the public to hear from Texas history authors throughout the day. Close to 20 authors participate each year to speak, visit, sell and sign books. It is held at the beautifully historic Julia Ideson Library building in Downtown Houston.

Most notably, we are working with school districts who wish to utilize our documentaries and HAM Slices of History videos in the classroom. Houston’s KUHT Channel 8 and the HISD Channel broadcast the Slices throughout the viewing day to over 2.3 million homes, and both have aired our documentary work. One big goal is to establish partnerships with all the PBS stations in Texas so that people across the state can enjoy learning more about our fascinating past. For more information, please visit www.houstonartsandmedia.org.


Historian's Corner

Presidential Libraries, What They Mean to America
By John Orell
Public Affairs Director
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the entity of what is now know as the Presidential Library. His decision stemmed from a conviction that Presidential papers are an important part of the national history, and should be made available to the public for study. To administer Presidential papers and his library - located in Hyde Park, New York - Roosevelt asked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to take custody of his papers and other historical materials.

At his Presidential Library dedication on June 30, 1941, President Roosevelt spoke to the importance this newfound Presidential Library system, and what they meant to the nation and its future. He said, “To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”

Presidential Libraries are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations. Presidential Libraries and Museums, like their holdings, belong to the American people.

Before Presidential Libraries existed, Presidents - or their heirs - often dispersed Presidential papers at the end of their administration. Many collections prior to President Herbert Hoover – who was alive when Roosevelt’s was opened, and decided he needed to have a Library as well -  now reside in the Library of Congress, other libraries, historical societies, and private collections. Unfortunately, many Presidential materials have been lost or deliberately destroyed throughout history, taking away important primary source documents from the archives.
So why are Presidential Libraries so important for America? Simply put, they are the purveyors of history. They are able to serve as the resource for students, scholars, authors, and researchers with a desire to use primary source documents. As an example, the primary source documents at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, serve as the resource for the life and career of President Bush.

The number one mission of the Bush Library is education. It is through this mission that it is able to promote a better understanding of the Presidency, American history, and important issues of public policy. To achieve their mission of education, the Bush Library preserves and provides access to his Presidential records and other donated items, as well as hosting public programs, creating educational initiatives, preserving artifacts, and producing innovative museum exhibits.


Featured Lesson

As you plan instruction on Texans who became United States presidents, make sure to include, Analyzing Historical Objects, from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  This lesson plan, for both 4th and 7th grade students, includes primary source examples from the National Archives, Library of Congress, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Students will learn how to analyze primary sources and artifacts and to use their analysis to compare different periods in Texas history. This lesson plan also includes a power point, analysis worksheets, digital copies of primary sources, and a worksheet to help students find "hidden clues" in artifacts. 

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

Join the Institute of Texan Cultures for the Annual Texas Folk life Festival, June 7-8, 2014.  Experience the delicious cuisine, traditional dances, fine-crafted keepsakes, storytelling, and music of more than 40 ethnic groups at the biggest three-day celebration in Texas. The Texas Folk life Festival is held on the grounds of HemisFair Park in San Antonio. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The Texas Council on Economic Education is proud to present the 2011 TCEE Smarter Texas Conference. This event will be held on June 16-18, 2014 at the Hotel Contessa on the San Antonio Riverwalk. K-12 educators will share ideas and learn teaching methods which will result in greater student understanding and success in personal financial literacy, economics, and entrepreneurship. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

Join the Education staff at The Bullock Texas State History Museum on June 11, 2014, for a free event exclusively for teachers. During the event, teachers will visit the newly opened, 1968 Exhibit, learn about the Civil Rights Movement by visiting the newly updated Bullock exhibits, and will watch the IMAX film D-Day: Normandy 1944 in 3D. Drop by anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 PM. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The Region 10 Education Service Center will host a Texas History Day workshop for educators on June 18, 2014. The topic of the presentation will be on the growth of railroads in Texas with special emphasis placed on the contributions of James Hogg. The remainder of the day will include presentations which will give teachers content and strategies to teach Texas history content. Additional information can be found on TeachingTexas.org.

Law-Related Education would like to invite you to attend one of six Institutes on the Founding Documents. Though these institutes are designed for US government and history teachers, there is a correlation to the Texas history TEKS. Institutes will be held over the summer in Round Rock, Fort Worth, and the Aldine/Houston Area. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


High school and middle school teachers, students, and administrators are invited to participate in Texas Folklife's 2014 summer institute Stories from Deep in the Heart, July 14-18, 2014, an intensive fellowship in radio documentary production with professional producers, journalists and cultural workers. Participants will be guided through production of short radio documentaries on themes related to family and community traditions. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Join the Institute of Texan Cultures, July 21-23, 2014, for Multicultural Education: Using the Museum as a Model for the Classroom. Get a behind the scenes look at the museum would and learn how museum delivery methods can translate into a model for the contemporary classroom. Participants will earn CPE credit; will develop teaching strategies and methods along with classroom projects and lessons.  For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The University of Texas at Austin is offering six - four day, AP Summer Institutes for social studies teachers at the Thompson Conference Center on the UT main campus. Institutes begin on June 6 and will continue until August 5, 2014. Participants will earn 30 credit hours of training.  Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information. Additional information can be found on TeachingTexas.org.

On July 11, 2014, The Bullock Texas State History Museum will open the special exhibit, When Austin Got Weird. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" may have evolved in 2000, but Austin was weird long before. Using music posters from two Austin collections, When Austin Got Weird explores the poster artists and music venues that helped define Austin's counterculture in the 1960s and 70s. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


TeachingTexas.org is proud to announce the creation of its new Facebook page. It has been created to provide an efficient way to get time sensitive, new events and collections in to the hands of Texas educators. There are two different ways you can “like” our page. The first is to go to www.teachingtexas.org and click on the “like” button on the left hand sidebar. The second way is to go to Facebook and search for Teaching Texas. Visit the Teaching Texas Facebook page to enter.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum and the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum are proud to host, Tune In, Turn On, Drop by: 1960s Teacher Workshop, on July 16, 2014.  Participants will tour the exhibits at both museums, and background information will be provided. Lunch and CPE hours are included, but registration is required. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
  Join Law-Related Education at one of four two day teacher workshops, Being an American: Exploring the Ideals that Unite Us. This 12 credit hour workshop is for any secondary teacher who would like to explore materials which show the significance of America’s founding and civic values. Workshops will be held over the summer, in El Paso, Austin, and Kilgore. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

The Texas General Land Office, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, and Austin ISD are joining forces to provide Totally Texas Immersion, a staff development workshop for new Texas history teachers. This content-driven workshop will prepare you for a full year of teaching our state history and geography. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum for a special training in media Curriculum on the Holocaust, August 4-5, 2014. This award-winning curriculum includes everything educators need to teach the complex issues of the Holocaust to today’s students, including primary sources, visual history testimony, modular curriculum design and a comprehensive web site. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of North Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
JoNeita Kelly- Associate Editor  


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