Assignment August 31 – Our American Story – A Pop Up Museum

AMERICA'S STORYI was first exposed to the concept of the pop-up museum at the NCSS conference in Boston in 2014. As I sat in a great presentation by Melissa Nies and Michelle DelCarlo, it became quickly apparent that this was something that would be a great opener for our examination of America’s story – I even tweeted the idea that day in November! The concept of a pop-up museum  is exactly what it sounds like – A collection of artifacts that are brought impromptu to a location, leading to a museum that “pops up” where there was not one before.

On Tuesday, our pop up museum  will be devoted to the idea of the American story. We would like you to bring in some sort of artifact or a mini exhibit that represents your American story, your family’s American story, or part of the American story that is important to you.  you can have a picture, an object, a document, or a combination! You should also have a written interpretation of your artifact, no bigger than a half piece of paper. Your goal in your pop up exhibit is to represent and explain something that helps tell your American story, and/or your vision of America’s story

You will be presenting your artifact tomorrow in a gallery walk, and collectively we will see and discuss an incredible array of personal connection to America’s story!

Want to see a couple of examples?

Dr. Walczak’s personal artifact – Her American Story


Walczak. You can probably easily guess what nationality my last name is. See the “cz”? That’s classic Polish; on my father’s side, I’m Polish and Bohemian. My dad’s family came to the United States generations ago, and they settled in Chicago, Illinois — more specifically, the south side of Chicago.
My dad grew up near Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. As a kid, he and his friends would go to every game they could. My dad and his buddies came from poor and working class families, so they had all manner of ways to sneak in.
My dad’s family ended up in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, and after returning from Vietnam – a war into which he was drafted – he met my mom and started a family. One of our most frequent family outings was to Comiskey, along with Bertie’s, the ice cream shop nearby that had been there since he was a kid. My hat is from 1983; I was not even 10 years old then. We saw the park become U.S. Cellular Field, though my dad still refers to it as Comiskey.
My 1983 White Sox baseball cap represents my dad, my working class family roots, and my Polish immigrant heritage to me. I despise all those dumb polack jokes that I used to hear all the time, and I proudly put a Ph.D. after my Polish last name.
The photo is of my dad, my son, and me at the Brewers game this summer. My dad deals with some disabilities caused by his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, so getting down to U.S. Cellular isn’t as easy as it used to be. Instead, we cheer on the Brewers. My dad, who is now retired but volunteers weekly at his local humane society, adores Hank; a Hank banner hangs in his den.

Taft’s artifacts about my vision of America’s storyIMG_2481

Competence, Courage, Sacrifice
An essential part of America’s story is the competence, courage, and sacrifice of our military at home and abroad. The chronicle of America would be drastically different without their service, and their narrative of our military history is such an integral part of our overall national story. Personally, the incredible tale of D-Day resonates with me as a critical turning point in human history. The valor of the Allied forces in the invasion of Normandy and the eventual liberation of France not only had a huge impact in the history of the world, but it also left us with a fascinating, thrilling, and moving chapter in our story. I was fortunate to travel to the beaches of northern France a few years ago and walk in the footsteps of Operation Overlord, learning about and experiencing many of the stories from 1944 and gaining an even greater appreciation for those that were there.   Sand from the Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, a clicker from the paratroopers, a scarf from a pilot, a book with the story in documents, the American cemetery overlooking the English Channel, and my overwhelming memories from my trip collectively represent an important party of America’s story – to me.
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Assignment August 31- The Growth Mindset

Thumb’s Up! (found at

We hope you enjoyed the first day of our combined class and are ready for an exciting year in American Studies!  The GROWTH MINDSET will be a central theme for our examination of America’s story AND for our personal approach to class this year (and hopefully beyond). For an introduction to the growth mindset, please spend about 15-20 minutes with this Blendspace  over the next few days.  It contains images, a short reading, and a video pertaining to the growth mindset in education. Once you feel you have a decent grasp on the grwoth mindset, reflect on the mindset using this Flipgrid response question.  Think about these – How do you think the growth mindset will apply to you as a student this year? How do you think it will apply to our study of America’s story?


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Yup – the inevitable is almost here – the beginning of the most important school year of your life!  (Well, that’s a little biased, but it is a big year, you know.) There are always some nuts and bolts stuff that you have to do in every course to get prepared, and we won’t spend any time in class doing this kind of stuff – so you can do it now!

Here’s the basic list …

Read over America’s Story Syllabus to get an overview about our comobined class this year

Make sure you have submitted your history Summer Reading reviews to


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Assignment June 5 – Closing the history books …

It’s almost over, young historians – can you believe it?  Here is an overview of how we will end the school year …

Over the weekend, make sure you have submitted your Cold War Trading Cards link AND your Turning Points Online Notebook link on Google Classroom.


Also over the weekend – come up with some questions about the Vietnam War and Cold War – and then search for some answers!  Nothing formal – just go out a learn!

On Tuesday, we will look at the legacy of Vietnam and end the Cold War and wrap up the year!

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Assignment June 3/4 – WAR! What is it good for?

FIRST – Add the Tet Offensive to your trading cards – here are two resources to consult – Tet Offensive   Tet Offensive Video

America’s involvement in Vietnam was the most controversial issue of the 1960s and 70s, and the war created the most vocal and varied opposition of any war in our country’s history. What were the reasons for this opposition? Why did so many Americans oppose the American involvement in Vietnam?

That’s your task to prepare for our next class …

To begin, read the following overviews of the anti-war movement – Fighting the War at Home and Culture of Protest (usmstudent, historyrules)

You will receive a SPECIFIC protest topic.  Take a look at the various resources and jot down some notes, links, and images on a Protest page on your online notebookNext, your task is to CREATE A PROTEST PAGE about your topic on your online notebook.  Your page should have a protest sign (made in PPT, Keynote, Canva, Google Slides, or whatever) that has a catch phrase or slogan that you would use in protest and a brief description of why you are protesting the war.   You will use this when you share your opinions in class.  

 In addition, post a note, an image, a video clip, a link, a statement, a song, or all of the above of the bulletin board for your class section. Check out the bulletin boards for examples. State an opinion, describe a meeting, organize a protest, post some song lyrics, quote an excerpt from a speech, do more than one thing, do something! When you are done, embed your class board on your page.


AntiWar1-15 / AntiWar2-15 / AntiWar3-15 / AntiWar4-15 / AntiWar5-15

  1. Someone who doubts the what happened in the Gulf of TonkinGulf of Tonkin Resolution, A Somber Lesson
  2. A member of Congress at the Fullbright Hearings
  3. A member of Students for a Democratic Society
  4. Someone who just read about the Pentagon Papers / Pentagon Papers
  5. A citizen shocked about the Credibility Gap / Credibility Gap
  6. A citizen who viewed a report about My Lai / My Lai
  7. Someone opposing the Draft\ / Draft
  8. Someone evading the draft / dodging the draft
  9. conscientious objector
  10. Muhammad Ali
  11. A supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr / MLK Beyond Vietnam
  12. An African American opposing the war
  13. An American opposed to the incursion into Cambodia
  14. A citizen reacting to the The Living Room War / The Living Room War
  15. A member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
  16. Someone who just saw a report on The Tet Offensive
  17. A college professor leading on of the Teach-Ins
  18. A participant in the May Day Protests
  19. A participant in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam
  20. Someone reacting to news from Kent State
  21. Someone reacting to news from Jackson State
  22. Someone hearing about the Sterling Hall Bombing
  23. Someone opposed to the use of Agent Orange


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Once you get to safety …

CLICK IT!!!!!!
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Assignment June 1/2 – The Path to War in Vietnam

You all know that the United States was involved in a major military conflict in Vietnam during the Cold War … but why? What was America’s “path to war”? Check out the video below and a few of the links if you have a chance. As you read and watch, make sure that you can summarize the basic ideas and events that led to American involvement in Vietnam.

Focus on the following terms – France, Ho Chi Minh, communism, Ngo Dinh Diem, military advisors, Gulf of Tonkin, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Rolling Thunder

The Causes of the Vietnam War

Check out :
This cool animation
The Vietnam War from the History Channel
Into Vietnam (Overview) from ABC-CLIO
Timeline of the Vietnam War
Vietnam Online Timeline

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In class June 1/2 – Advice for JFK



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Assignment – The Cold War Gets Hotter

How are those trading cards going?  Ready to add some more?  Use the links provided below and “The Cold War” research list on ABC-CLIOto develop a decent description for each event or idea from the middle years of the Cold War. This information will help with context for our final major topic in the Cold War – the Vietnam War. Each entry should have an essential image and complete detailed information.  Use the first entry as an example for detail – bulleted points are fine. Fun facts are optional.

After you are done, you should be able to discuss how each of the events led to greater tension between the two sides of the developing Cold War.

DETAILS – A postwar meeting near the end of WWII – the big 3 met to discuss post war Europe – they agreed that …
  • Germany will be divided, controlled by the Allies
  • Liberated Eastern European countries will have new elections
  • USSR is eventually given great influence over Eastern Europe, and new government must be “Soviet friendly”
  • United Nations will be formed
  • FDR and Churchill will later be criticized for handing E Europe and parts of Asia to the USSR
The roots of the Cold War are established – the US and USSR will conflict over Germany and Eastern European countries – and will argue in the United Nations!
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