Sunday, July 25, 2010

Podcast #212 - Washington's Big Decision Lesson Plan from Mount Vernon

Many people think of George Washington as a general or a president but he was also a very innovative farmer. During my week at Mount Vernon this summer as a participant in the 2010 Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar I spent time studying Washington's actions as a farmer. He did some amazing things on his farms and was on the cutting edge of technology for his time. Today on a visit to Mount Vernon you can visit a reconstruction of the 16 sided round barn he built and designed to thresh grain.

One of Washington's most important decisions as a farmer came in 1765 when he decided to shift the from growing tobacco to wheat. He was one of the first to do this on a large scale in Virginia. He made this decision for several reasons and it ultimately allowed him to make a profit at a time when those who stayed with tobacco eventually fell further in debt.

During the seminar I created a lesson plan to help students analyze why Washington made this decision. The lesson is created primarily for a middle school or junior high history class and can be conducted in one 45 minute period. Students will also be using a couple of primary resources from George Washington. The podcast describes the lesson plan and this blog post includes a full description and materials in PDF format.
This blog entry also includes a short video shoot at Mount Vernon with Daniel Purkey, Lead Interpreter for Historic Trades at Mount Vernon, describing the reasons for Washington's decision.

Link to a full text description of the Washington Decision lesson plan (PDF file)

Link to the student graphic organizer used in the lesson along with a copy of a completed teacher version (PDF file)

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Direct link to Podcast #212 - Washington's Big Decision Lesson Plan

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Podcast #211 - Sunrise at Mount Vernon

Hello. Several weeks ago I was very fortunate to participate in the 2010 Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar for Teachers at Mount Vernon. One great opportunity while attending the seminar was the opportunity to stay on the grounds at Mount Vernon. On a couple of the mornings I got up around 5:15 AM and walked to the mansion to see the sunrise over the Potomac River from the back porch. Today's podcast is a very quick reflection on that experience. I have also added several of the pictures from that morning at the mansion with this blog post.

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Direct link to Podcast #211 - Enjoying Sunrise at Mount Vernon