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Breakout Sessions, Lectures & Tours

2023 National Teacher Institute

Schedule and speaker lineup are subject to change.
American Battlefield Trust Event

Keynote Sessions:

An Evening with Rick Atkinson

To read Rick Atkinson’s work is to travel from the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, to the hedgerows of Europe on the drive to Berlin. He crosses the desert sands of Iraq with the 101st Airborne, and he treads the contemplative grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. As a historian, he has received the Pulitzer Prize for writing about the Second World War in North Africa; as a journalist, he has earned Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting and public service reporting. Join us for an evening of conversation with one of America’s preeminent public intellectuals and most respected journalists.

Session Type: Keynote Lecture
Presenter: Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
Subject Areas: Critical Thinking, Student Engagement
Time Period: Revolutionary War Era, Civil War Era, Early 20th Century, Modern US History 
Grade Level(s): All

How History Can Help Us Make Sense of The Contemporary Moment

We are living in chaotic times - a 24-hour news cycle that drives disinformation and misinformation about pandemics, immigration, political violence, election sabotage, and war. It is hard for adults, let alone students, to know what to believe, and to determine what is unprecedented and what has occurred before. History offers crucial skills to decipher fact from fiction, place the challenges of our current moment in historical context, and offer helpful lessons from past crises. Critically, history also reveals what is actually unprecedented and why it matters.

Session Type: Keynote Lecture
Presenter: Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Southern Methodist University
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Critical Thinking, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom
Time Period: Revolutionary War Era, Modern US History 
Grade Level(s): All

General Sessions:

It's Not What or How Much We Teach but How We teach it that Matters 

We are often told that student knowledge of history is in decline. Is this true? Is there a different narrative that should be promoted and different lessons for teachers to take from 100 years of educational data and research?  

Session Type: Lecture
Presenter: Bruce Lesh, Carroll County Public Schools
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Critical Thinking, Education Studies, Place-Based Learning, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom
Time Period: Civil War Era, Modern US History 
Grade Level(s): All

Making History Relatable (and Cool!)

To many students, the people of the past seem like flat, colorless abstractions, but (as you well know), it needn’t be that way!  The past is bursting with fascinating people, places, things, events and more!  Join the American Battlefield Trust’s chief historian Garry Adelman for a lively session that explores the cool and relatable sides of history—and the easy entrance ramps to grab the attention of your students.

Session Type: Lecture
Presenter: Garry Adelman, American Battlefield Trust
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Place-Based Learning, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom
Time Period: Revolutionary War Era, Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): All

The Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry

Some of the strongest ties to our past come from our family lineage. The stories of our relatives who came before us can be a powerful teaching tool and portal to the past. Learn about the story of one drummer during the War of 1812 and his role in one of the most famous chapters in American history. How do we learn more about these people, and how do we separate myth from reality? 

Session Type: Lecture
Presenter: Tim Smith, Adams County Historical Society 
Subject Areas: Place-Based Learning, Student Engagement
Time Period: War of 1812, Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): All


Breakout Sessions:

An Educational Adventure! Personalizing History for Our Students

Have you ever wondered as an educator: How do I get my students to care about History? How can I get their attention? If you have, this session is for you! Our session will take us to the fields of Western Maryland and a small town in Southcentral Pennsylvania. We will research several American Civil War primary and secondary sources from a sampling of soldiers that did not expect to go from common United States citizens to our history books, newspapers, and webpages!! Through our educational adventure, we will try to find the underlying stories that should lead our students to empathize and personalize our American History. To conclude the session, we will discuss how we can preserve these hallowed fields so that our students and the next generation of Americans can explore, interpret, and awaken to our American History. I am looking forward to having you come along on our Educational Adventure at the 2023 American Battlefield Trust Teacher’s Institute.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Bob Rinehart, Southampton Middle School (MD)
Subject Areas: American History, Field Trip Planning, Placed Based Learning, Primary Documents, Project Based Learning, Student Engagement
Time Periods: Civil War Era Grade Levels: Middle School, High School
Grade Levels: Middle School, High School


An Intro to the O.R.s: The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion are one of the richest collections of primary source material about the Civil War. After a battle or skirmish took place, commanders of both sides were required to write a report about what happened, creating a written record of the four-year conflict that serves as the backbone of our modern understanding of the war. Working with the O.R. comes with a unique set of challenges, though. Find out how you can introduce your students to this fantastic resource and navigate its quirks.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Chris Mackowski, St. Bonaventure University
Subject Areas: American History, Primary Documents, Project Based Learning, Student Engagement
Time Periods: Civil War Era
Grade Levels: Middle School, High School


Arlington National Cemetery: When the End is the Beginning of Memory 

Learn about the intensely personal story behind the order to turn Arlington Estate into Arlington National Cemetery. Ponder the life stories of some of the Civil War soldiers buried here. Observe and explore questions about historical memory and memorialization in Arlington National Cemetery over the years. While Arlington National Cemetery will be the historical focus, the inquiry-based resources used and shared in this program can be adapted to any national cemetery with the goal of guiding students to understand the cost of liberty and remember the lives of those who have guarded our country. 

Session Type: Lecture/Moderated Discussion 
Presenter: Sarah Kay Bierle, American Battlefield Trust 
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, American Civil War, Historical Memory, Civics 
Time Period: Civil War Era, Modern US History 
Grade Level(s): Middle School, High School  


Boston, Baltimore, and Historical Memory of 1861

This breakout session is to link the story of the 1861 “Pratt Street Riots,” with the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment’s experience in Baltimore in 1898 at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, and the “Reconciliation” aspects of the Jim Crow era. Using documents, images, and public memorials/art will enable participants to better help students make historical connections and understand the distinctions between history and memory. Presenter will share digital resources with those in attendance.

Session Type: Lecture/Moderated Discussion 
Presenter: Richard Houston, 2019 American Battlefield Trust Teacher of the Year
Subject Areas: Geography, Historical Memory, Military History, Public History, Race Relations 
Time Period: Civil War Era, Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow South
Grade Level(s): Middle School, High School


Caught in the Crossfire: The Adams County Historical Society 

On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, Rebel forces captured the town of Gettysburg after heavy fighting, and held it for the next two-and-a-half days. Those who chose to remain in the town and weather the storm were trapped in their houses, and many sought the safety of their cellars. Join Adams County Historical Society Director of Education Timothy H. Smith as we discuss the recollections and memories of the civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

Session Type: Lecture/Moderated Discussion
Presenter: Tim Smith, Adams County Historical Society (PA)
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Hands-on-History, Museum Studies, Placed-Based Learning, Social History, Student Engagement 
Time Period: Antebellum Era, Civil War Era
Grade Level(s): All


Command Decisions That Affected the War of 1812

Leaders of any organization, whether they lead a Fortune 500 company, a unit in the armed forces, a school district, or a classroom of students, makes decisions in the heat of the moment that ripple through the organization, either for the benefit of the people ­or to their detriment. The Battle of Baltimore is a study in command decisions on both sides of the battlefield, each of which became one step toward the ultimate cessation of hostilities and the true independence of the United States.

This session will be a study of decisions made by military commanders and politicians. The factors that led to these decisions, while made in the context of the war, can be seen in today’s leaders, as can the short and long-term outcomes.

By studying past decisions, today’s leaders can appreciate the tremendous impact that one oversight, one slip, or hesitation can make on an entire company or, in the case of the Battle of Baltimore, two nations. 

The presentation will include an interactive map, bios on the decision-makers, War of 1812 panels, two mannequins, and (possibly) a War of 1812 Reenactor.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Dr. Julie Shively, Maryland National Guard Command Historian 
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Leadership, Military History 
Time Period: War of 1812
Grade Level(s): All


From Boots to Bonnets-the Civil War Lady’s Guide to getting dressed in the 1860s

Getting dressed during the 1860s was quite an endeavor- from corsets and hoops skirts to knowing when, why, and how various garments were worn, there was a method to the madness!  Join fashion historian, Courtney Cauthon (also known as The Barefoot Historian) while she sets Victorian etiquette aside and gets dressed in front of a crowd. 

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Courtney Cauthon, M.A., The Barefoot Historian
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Cultural History, General American History, Hands-on-History, Material Culture, Social History  
Time Period: Antebellum Era, Civil War Era
Grade Level(s): All


For the Enjoyment, Education, and Inspiration of This and Future Generations: Engaging Students on the Civil War and Relevancy at National Parks 

The Civil War reverberates a century and a half after its ending. Its legacy remains hotly debated at public spaces and in the classroom. The National Park Service (NPS) administers dozens of historic sites across the United States, including Civil War battlefields, memorials, and monuments. This session provides a template for educators to engage and make meaningful, relevant connections to history at NPS sites.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Steve Phan, National Park Service
Subject Areas: African-American History, Classroom Resources, Leadership, Memory Studies 
Time Period: Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): All


Jamestown Rediscovery!

Jamestown is one of the best known names in early American history, but the history itself is not always well-known to students or educators. Through amazing artifacts, the Historic Jamestown Rediscovery website, and inquiry learning, students will learn where these artifacts were found and who might have owned them.

This lesson always engages students and gives them an amazing portal to the world of 1607. It also reinforces their ability to write a summary using the RACE template.   Students will relate to the early settlers of Jamestown by understanding them through the items they had in the early 1600s. There are 14 categories of artifacts, with several artifacts included in each category. Some artifacts are ancient, yet some are identical to today’s stuff.  Students are especially captivated by the dice and other items people used to entertain themselves. Learn how to bring this history directly into your classroom.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Kathy Misek, Cleburne ISD (TX)
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Inquiry Learning, Memory Studies, Native-American History, Student Engagement, Virtual Learning
Time Period: Colonial Era
Grade Level(s): Elementary School, Middle School


Lessons from the “American Bastille”: Fort McHenry During the Civil War 

Fort McHenry’s role in securing Maryland for the Union during the Civil War was both vital and remarkably controversial. The harsh measures taken to preserve order in Baltimore and prevent the secession of Maryland and destruction of Washington led the fort to become a symbol of U.S. military strength and resolve, as well as a symbol of oppression. By exploring the Constitutional questions surrounding enumerated powers and executive authority, teachers can facilitate dialogues addressing past and contemporary issues of creating a balance between the preservation of civil liberties and safeguarding national security.  

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Shannon McLucas, National Park Service
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Inquiry Learning, Memory Studies, Political Science, Student Engagement
Time Period: Civil War Era
Grade Level(s): All


Maryland’s U.S. District Court in the Civil War Era, 1840-1880

Maryland’s United States District Court is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1789.  Over the past 20 years, the Court’s historical society has worked to create permanent exhibits on display in the hallways highlighting various aspects of the Court’s 234-year history.  The most recent exhibit, “The Court in the Civil War Era, 1840-1880,” uses court records, newspaper articles, archival materials, contemporary photographs and prints, and timelines and maps to tell the story of how slavery, the Civil War, and its aftermath impacted the work of the Federal District Court.  Exhibits include fugitive slave petitions, records of court cases, notes from the federal grand jury investigation into the April 1861 Pratt Street riots, a presidential pardon signed by Abraham Lincoln, and materials relating to early post-war Civil Rights cases.  Learn how these materials were assembled and how you can utilize these resources in your classroom. Please note that participants will leave the hotel on foot and walk approximately 1-1/2 blocks to the federal courthouse for this session. Participants will pass through a security checkpoint upon entering the courthouse that includes a metal detector. 

Session Type: Workshop/Walking Tour 
Presenter: Jefferson Gray 
Subject Areas: Civics, Classroom Resources, Critical Thinking, Placed-Based Learning, Primary Documents, Student Engagement
Time Period: Antebellum Era, Civil War Era, Reconstruction
Grade Level(s): All 


"Opened but not yet dedicated":  The 1922 Lincoln Memorial Dedication

The Lincoln Memorial is a familiar symbol, but there are some fascinating stories that go beyond the statue, columns, and speeches. This session explores the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. President Warren Harding, at the 1922 Memorial dedication, said “this memorial…is less for Abraham Lincoln than for those of us today, and for those who follow after.” Explore this quotation about memorializing Abraham Lincoln and consider why one newspaper claimed that the memorial was "opened but not yet dedicated" after the event.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Bethany Bagent, National Park Service 
Subject Areas: American History, Classroom Resources, Inquiry Learning, Memory Studies, Place-Based Learning, Student Engagement
Time Period: Civil War Era, Early 20th Century, Civil Rights Era
Grade Level(s): All


Penmanship and Prose: Analyzing Civil War Correspondence from Multiple Perspectives 

Between Home and the Front: Civil War Letters of the Walters Family (Indiana University Press, 2022), edited by Lynn Heidelbaugh and Thomas J. Paone, presents primary sources and scholarship on the roles individual correspondents and the Post Office Department played in creating and protecting the personal and national networks essential for keeping the Union in contact during the American Civil War. The workshop session, “Penmanship and Prose: Analyzing Civil War Correspondence from Multiple Perspectives,” is an opportunity for educators and scholars to delve deeper into the social and emotional worlds of young people during a time of national conflict as recorded in their personal correspondence. With particular focus on the perspective of Rachel (Ward) Walters and the networks she established and maintained through the post, participants will explore themes such as patriotism and emotions on the home front, historical analysis skills, including reading and transcribing 19th-century cursive writing, and teaching strategies designed to help students read, write, and discuss history. Through their exploration, participants will be able to create an individualized actionable plan for how to bring the real work and new research of historians to their classrooms.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenters: Lynn Heidelbaugh, Thomas Paone, and Phoebe Sherman; National Postal Museum
Subject Areas: Inquiry Learning, Primary Resources, Student Engagement  
Time Period: Civil War Era
Grade Level(s): All


Teaching Civil War Medicine at Gettysburg's Seminary Ridge 

By 1863, Gettysburg’s first permanent Lutheran Seminary building had been standing for three decades as a home and workplace for students, faculty, and staff. Yet as the battle began, one veteran remembered, the historic structure “changed from the halls of learning to a scene of bloodshed and carnage” as hundreds of wounded soldiers sought refuge and care within its walls. Discover and experience the on-site and online educational Civil War medical programming available today at Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center, which now occupies that building, allowing modern students and educators to encounter the past at Gettysburg’s earliest battlefield hospital.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: Codie Eash, Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Medical History, Placed-Based Learning
Time Period: Civil War Era
Grade Level(s): All


Telling a Battlefield Story with Storymaps

Storymaps are an exciting educational technology where teachers can combine photos, stories, maps, videos, documents, and other materials into one online interactive product to help tell the story of a battlefield in a way that students can relate to

After in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand Storymap basics and how they can be used in the classroom
  • Gain a practical understanding of how to create custom interactive Storymaps for use in the classroom
  • Explore resources that can be used for the creation of Storymaps 
  • Learn how to help students create their own Storymap project in the classroom setting
  • Interact with original Storymaps created by history students and teachers 

Session Type: Workshop 
Presenter: Robert B. Hulette and Dr. Stacy Curry-Johnson, Vanderbilt University 
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Geography, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom 
Time Period: Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): All 

The Power of Place

What makes history different from fiction? Both can tell a great story, but history ties us to a specific place. In this workshop we will explore the power of place in teaching American history. Using online resources and tech tools, you can use place to help make history come alive to your students even if you cannot physically leave the classroom. Special focus will be give on resources local to Baltimore, specifically related to the Civil War and War of 1812. In addition, digital resources will be available to help you create your own engaging place-based activities.

Session Type: Workshop 
Presenter: Matthew Young, Perry Hall Middle School (MD)
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Geography, Placed-Based Learning, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom 
Time Period: War of 1812, Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): Middle School, High School


The Unfinished Revolution

The period surrounding from the American Revolution to the War of 1812 was filled with rhetoric about freedom and liberty, but for who were those goals really intended for? Participants will learn about how primary source collections can expand interpretation about the role of African Americans, Women, Indigenous Americans and other marginalized groups during this time. Under the C3 Framework and local curricular guidance, students are charged with understanding the necessity of analyzing multiple, diverse perspectives in order to best examine historical events. Teachers and students should also be equipped to use social studies based skills to examine how our shared history influences current political conversations. Analyzing the complexity of the nation’s founding era supports contemporary civic engagement, where ideas about identity and representation are still being debated. Session participants will leave with resources to support inquiry-based learning, including pedagogical strategies for incorporating primary source material. Presenters and participants will also share knowledge regarding political and civic engagement as it relates to national identity and historical context.

Session Type: Workshop 
Presenter: David Armenti, Maryland Center for History and Culture
Subject Areas: C3 Framework, Classroom Resources, Geography, Placed-Based Learning, Student Engagement, Technology in the Classroom 
Time Period: Revolutionary War Era, Early Republic, War of 1812
Grade Level(s): Middle School, High School

The War of 1812 Comes to the White House

The War of 1812 Comes to the White House- On the evening of April 24, 1814, British troops set the White House ablaze, burning the interior of the house. By the time the fire went out, only the exterior walls remained. Learn more about this historic event and the reconstruction of the White House that followed.

Session Type: Workshop 
Presenter: Lina Mann, White House Historical Association 
Subject Areas: Classroom Resources, Presidential History Placed-Based Learning, Student Engagement
Time Period: War of 1812
Grade Level(s): All


Three Brothers: A Case Study of Privilege in Plantation Society

Hampton National Historic Site was first and foremost a plantation that relied on the labor of slavery for monumental profits. So much so that Hampton, with roughly 350 people enslaved at one time, and over 500 enslaved throughout its history, was the third largest plantation in the state of Maryland. Most of the enslaved people at Hampton planation were born into their roles, but what happens when bloodlines cross and enslaved and free men in power are related? Through examining the story of three men, all in different classes in Hampton's plantation society, yet all related, we can truly begin to understand the power structure and privilege that existed in the Antebellum South.

Session Type: Workshop 
Presenter: Jimmy Horn, National Park Service
Subject Areas: African American Studies, Classroom Resources, Placed-Based Learning, Primary Resources 
Time Period: War of 1812, Antebellum Civil War, Civil War Era 
Grade Level(s): Middle School, High School


Using History as a Catalyst to Develop the Leadership Roles of Our Students

During this session, attendees will learn how a passion for history is used in a middle school setting to engage students in developing their leadership skills.

Session Type: Workshop
Presenter: JanetViana Clarke-Green, Benjamin Tasker Middle School
Subject Areas: Character Development, Leadership, Student Engagement
Time Period: TBD
Grade Level(s): All


Saturday Tours:

The "American Rome": A Tour of Washington D.C. and Its Monuments

Visit some of the most iconic sites of our nation’s capital with a walking tour of Washington, D.C. We’ll start in front of the White House, walk over to the Mall, and take in the  World War II Memorial. Then visit the memorials for the Vietnam and Korean Wars, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. After lunch, we’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery. Along the way, tour guides Chris Mackowski and Kevin Pawlak will touch on history from the Revolution through the Civil War. Engage with history into and through the Civil Rights Movement, the tumultuous 1960s, and the great military conflicts of the 20th Century. (Expect a lot of walking!)

Lunch is included with this tour.


The Gettysburg Stuff Your Students Will Love the Most!

A battlefield tour can inspire critical thought, make someone appreciate the past, and maybe even spark a lifelong interest in a particular subject, but how can you bring Gettysburg—the place, the stories, the meaning—back to your students? What elements of a battlefield tour can work in your classrooms or ball fields?  From strategy and tactics to soldiers and suffering, to photos and folklore and more, this tour will use Gettysburg’s famous places and Trust resources to help bring the battlefield to your students.

Lunch is included with this tour.

The Rocket’s Red Glare: Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner

With the abdication of Napoleon in the spring of 1814, Great Britain refocused its efforts on the conflict raging in North America. The British high command decided to launch a major offensive in the Chesapeake. After landing in southern Maryland, a British army routed an American force at Bladensburg before burning Washington, D.C. With the initiative firmly in hand, the British set their sights on Baltimore, the third-largest port in the United States. The coming battle would help determine the outcome of the war and give birth to the American National Anthem.

Join Dan Davis, the Trust’s Senior Education Manager and Emerging Revolutionary War historian Phillip S. Greenwalt as we explore the Battle of Baltimore (and Phill's hometown). We'll visit North Point, Fort McHenry, and other sites related to one of the most famous campaigns from the War of 1812, America’s forgotten conflict.

Lunch is included with this tour.

Sunday Tours:

"By the Dawn's Early Light": Fort McHenry

Take a half-day and visit one of the most famous sites in American history—Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Join National Park Service staff as they peel back the layers of history. The story of the fort is more than one battle and our National Anthem. Learn about the life of the fort and its impact on local and national history.

Lunch is NOT included with this tour.

Downtown Baltimore Historical Walking Tour

This roughly two to two-and-a-half-hour walking tour will cover Baltimore’s history from its earliest days through the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Great Fire of 1904, and the start of the civil rights movement.  In the course of the tour, which covers a roughly five-by-three block area of downtown between Fayette and Pratt Streets on the north and south (starting one block north of the Sheraton Hotel), you will see where Captain John Smith explored; the Continental Congress met; Francis Scott Key composed The Star Spangled Banner; a great commercial empire began; mobs rioted (and the first deaths of the Civil War resulting from hostile action occurred); Abraham Lincoln evaded assassins; several famous court cases were tried or decided; German agents plotted acts of sabotage during World War I; Thurgood Marshall practiced law; Bob Dylan found inspiration for a song protesting racial injustice; and George Washington, John Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, Charles Dickens, and Woodrow Wilson slept! 

Lunch is NOT included with this tour.

Hampton: The Story of America

Once possibly the largest private home in America by 1790, the Hampton mansion serves as a grand example of late-Georgian architecture in America. Hampton is also the story of its people, as the estate evolved through the actions of the Ridgely family, enslaved African Americans, European indentured servants, and paid laborers within a nation struggling to define its own concept of freedom. Explore the home and grounds with the staff of the National Park Service.

Lunch is NOT included with this tour. 

The B&O Railroad Museum

All aboard for this tour of one of Baltimore's most popular museums. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad played a vital role during the Civil War and was one of the largest railroads on the East Coast. Explore this amazing museum with a guided tour, and then take some time to take it all in yourself.

Lunch is NOT included with this tour.