July 14, 2016

Purdue helps K-12 teachers incorporate African American history, culture into classrooms

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Nineteen teachers will spend four weeks at Purdue University learning how to blend African-American history with literature, information technology and digital humanities into their classrooms.

The institute, which began Monday (July 11), is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. "From Plessy to Brown: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century" is a collaborative effort between the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education. The program runs through Aug. 4.

"By exploring topics like the early social activism of black institutions, African-American migration to cities, and the influence and impact of African-American writers and arts on civil rights organizing, this summer institute will help teachers make African-American history and culture more accessible to their students," said Cornelius "Neil" Bynum, an associate professor of history and co-director of the institute who received the grant in 2015.

The selected participating teachers are from Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia. The NEH program covers the cost of their living expenses and institute participation.

The institute's four themes are focused on racial violence in the early 20th century: the Jazz Age and independent black journalism and other social aspects; racial segregation as it relates to World War II and the Great Depression; and political and current events leading up to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. In addition to workshops on campus, there also will be field trips to a variety of African-American historical and literary sites in Chicago and Indianapolis. 

 "Our workshop sessions also will utilize multimedia platforms and technology so teachers have more resources to improve information literacy in their classrooms," said Chrystal S. Johnson, an associate professor of social studies education. "We're especially excited about the role that geospatial information systems, known as GIS, will play in our seminars."

GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. One of this program's goals is to help teachers influence students' critical thinking skills and reading comprehension as part of the recommendations of both the National Council of Teachers of English's 21st Century Curriculum and the National Council for Social Studies' 21st Century Skills. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Cornelius Bynum, bynum@purdue.edu  

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