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Breakout Sessions, Lectures & Tours

2021 National Teacher Institute

Schedule and speaker lineup is subject to change
American Battlefield Trust Event

Keynote Sessions:


History Through Storytelling

Avoiding the typical history textbook and instead focusing on the characters and their accomplishments (or infamy) to reveal the history without relying only on facts and figures. The license that can be taken by the storyteller is considerable, but in my case, I try as much as possible to keep the facts straight, to educate without having the reader even realize he/she is being educated. Join New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara for a walk through history and the writing process, as he shares the power of story and place in literature and in the classroom. 

Session Type: General Session Lecture

Presenter: Jeff Shaara, New York Times Bestselling Author 

Subject Areas: Interpretation, Military History, Political History, Social History, US History 

Time Periods: Revolutionary War Era, Civil War Era, World Wars

Grade Levels: All


The Cabinet: George Washington, Councils of War, and the Creation of an American Institution

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph―for the first cabinet meeting. The US Constitution did not create or provide for such a body and Washington had to rely on his own leadership experiences. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. Chervinsky will share the importance of Washington’s military experience to the formation of the presidency and the federal government—a parallel that has often been overlooked. As Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch, and left a precedent that has guided his successors to the present day.

Session Type: General Session Lecture

Presenter: Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Iona College 

Subject Areas: Military History, Political History, US History 

Time Periods: Revolutionary War Era, Early Republic

Grade Levels: All


General Sessions:

Appomattox and You: The Legacy of the Civil War's End 

We often think of Appomattox as the ending of the Civil War, but it is also the beginning of Reconstruction in Virginia. This event has been memorialized and How did the surrender set the terms for the nation to come back together? Where did the expectations of peace fall short? How would Appomattox live on in our collective understanding of the war's ending, emancipation, and the future of America? Join Beth Parnicza for a guided discussion around the legacy of Appomattox and its continued relevance to today.

Session Type: General Session Lecture

Presenter: Beth Parnicza, NationalPark Service 

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based Learning, Memory Studies, Race Relations, US History

Time Periods: Civil War Era, Reconstruction

Grade Levels: All

Washington and Baltimore: A Civil War Photo Extravaganza

Join American Battlefield Trust Chief Historian Garry Adelman for a lively photography presentation covering all manner of Washington and Baltimore’s Civil War events, people and places. The Civil War was the first war to be extensively photographed and, for the first time in history, the public was exposed to real-life images of a nation and its cities at war.  Through then-and-now photographs and other techniques, Mr. Adelman will tell the story of two very different Civil War localities through the revolutionary wet-plate photography process and the truly unique individuals involved in the birth of photojournalism and more.  From Alexandria to Essex, from Pratt Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and from Relay to Rockville, come to understand these places a way available nowhere else!

Session Type: General Session Lecture

Presenter: Garry Adelman, American Battlefield Trust

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based Learning, Primary Documents, US History

Time Periods: Antebellum Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction

Grade Levels: All


More sessions to be announced 


Breakout Sessions:

A Nation Divided: Women in the Civil War

Delve into the myriad ways women participated in all aspects of the Civil War on both sides, from the early debate over the expansion of slavery, to the bloody battles, through Reconstruction. The Civil War marks a key moment in American history, and one that had a massive impact on every person's life, yet its representation in textbooks focuses primarily on the roles men played in the political disputes leading up to and following the war, as well as the fighting during the war. This session will foreground diverse women’s experiences of the period between 1832 and 1877 in order to broaden the lens through which the Civil War is understood and taught. Participants will explore rich primary source images and documents, as well as life stories, that shed new light on this history. Using inquiry and critical thinking strategies for primary source analysis, participants will come away with classroom-ready approaches to teaching this history. Participants will also come away with new source material that they can fold into their existing Civil War lessons in order to help students see themselves in the American past and recognize their voice in the American present.

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: Mia Nagawiecki, New-York Historical Society

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based Learning, Primary Documents, US History, Women's Studies

Time Periods: Antebellum Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction

Grade Levels: Middle School, High School, College Level


Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow

Explore the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded after the Civil War, including African American activism, the harsh backlash, and the period’s lasting legacies. Through primary images and artifacts drawn from the New-York Historical Society's traveling exhibition as well as Life Stories from the curriculum guide, participants will unpack one of the most complex and consequential episodes of American history: Reconstruction and its aftermath. Resources will provide an enlightening account of the evolving definitions and expressions of equality and citizenship, emphasizing stories of African Americans who pursued the ideals of Reconstruction and persevered in the face of a developing system of Jim Crow, racial violence, and inequality. Spanning the 50 years after the Civil War, the session will incorporate a wide range of perspectives that represent the North, South, and West, as all Americans were in some way affected by the drama. Participants will explore themes of patriotism, inclusion, and citizenship.

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: Mia Nagawiecki, New-York Historical Society

Subject Areas: African American Studies, Inquiry-Based Learning, Primary Documents, Race Relations, US History

Time Periods: Reconstruction, Jim Crow Era 

Grade Levels: Middle School, High School, College Level


Boston, Baltimore, and Historical Memory of 1861

The goal of this break out session is to link the story of the 1861 Baltimore “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 of history and memory. 

Session Type: Lecture & Moderated Discussion

Presenter: Richard Houston, 2019 American Battlefield Trust Teacher of the Year

Subject Areas: African American Studies, Geography, Inquiry-Based Learning, Memory Studies, Military History, Primary Documents, Race Relations, Technology in the Classroom, US History

Time Periods: Civil War, Jim Crow Era 

Grade Levels: Middle School, High School


Civil War Medicine and STEAM in the Classroom

At the turn of the 19th century the medical field was advancing far beyond the realms of the four humors and bleeding through the increased establishment of medical schools and the controversial practice of dissection. Yet, even the medical advancements of the time could not prepare medical personnel for the Civil War. Over 600,000 casualties over the Civil War created chaos, carnage, and challenges that ultimately propelled the medical field to the advanced practice that many of us take for granted today. In this moderated discussion, learn how you can tie the field of medicine into your history lessons using STEAM and develop different ideas for activities and discussion to make lessons engaging and relevant to your students.

Session Type: Moderated Discussion & Think Tank

Presenter: Paige Gibbons Backus, Historic Site Manager at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre and Lucasville School

Subject Areas: Medical History, US History, Military History, Social History, STEAM

Time Periods: Antebellum Civil War, Civil War

Grade Levels: All Levels


Henry Lightner: The Drummer boy of Fort McHenry

Musicians played a critical role on the battlefield. Their music inspired men, relayed orders, and regulated the soldier's daily routines. Henry Lightner was a 16 year old drummer boy and a member of Captain Berry’s Washington Artillery of the Maryland 1st Regiment. Lightner was one of the youngest soldiers inside of Fort McHenry during the famous bombardment. Join Lightner descendent Tim Smith as he takes you through the life and actions of this young soldier, who was caught in the middle of a desperate battle. 

Session Type: Workshop & Lecture

Presenter: Tim Smith, Adams County Historical Society 

Subject Areas: Genealogy, Military History, Primary Documents, US History, 

Time Periods: War of 1812

Grade Levels: All Levels


Reclaiming Mary: The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Evolution as a Women's History Site

Executive Director Amanda Shores Davis unveils the Flag House's new interpretive plan. From teaching Americanism in the 1920s to living history demonstrations in the 1990s, the Flag House has employed many interpretive themes and approaches. After nearly a century as a historic site, the museum's interpretive planning team has tackled the challenge of equitable and inclusive storytelling. The team has developed an interpretive menu that reclaims the story of flag maker and craftswoman of the Star-Spangled Banner, Mary Young Pickersgill, establishing the Flag House as a Women's History site. This workshop will examine the community-based approach to interpretive planning and an in-depth look at the new and fascinating stories being told at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. 

Session Type: Workshop & Lecture

Presenter: Amanda Shores Davis, The Star-Spangled Banner House 

Subject Areas: US History, Military History, Social History, Women's Studies 

Time Periods: War of 1812

Grade Levels: All Levels


STEAM and the Civil War: A Hybrid How-To

In an age where STEAM is highly valued in K-12 education, where does the Civil War fit in? Everywhere! Concepts on and off the battlefield can be used in biology, physics, geometry, algebra, and art classes! And, during a time of hybrid learning, there are ways to teach these concepts using the latest in educational technology. Join us to see how to bring history outside the history class!

Session Type: Workshop & Lecture

Presenters: Pete Miele, Seminary Ridge Museum; Kara Boehne-Miele, Cumberland Valley School District (PA)

Subject Areas: Cross-Curricular, Educational Technology, STEAM, US History 

Time Periods: Civil War

Grade Levels: Middle School, High School, College Level


Tackling Civil War Controversy in the Classroom: Encouraging Critical Thinking with Shades of Gray & Blue

When the Civil War makes it into current events, teachers have an excellent opportunity for a teaching moment—but behind those headlines often lurk controversies that can cause headaches. Navigating those challenging waters can often lead to great critical thinking, though. Dr. Chris Mackowski, editor in chief of Emerging Civil War, will facilitate a discussion where teachers can share their experiences, their challenges, and their best solutions while also learning some things that will let them interject some shades of gray (and blue) into conversations often miscast as black and white.

Session Type: Workshop & Moderated Discussion

Presenter: Dr. Chris Mackowski, St. Bonaventure University and Emerging Civil War 

Subject Areas: African American Studies, Inquiry-Based Learning, Pedagogical Practices and Strategies, Primary Documents, Race Relations, US History

Time Periods: Antebellum Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow Era, Civil Rights

Grade Levels: Middle School, High School, College Level


Teaching the War of 1812 Through Primary Sources and Technology

There is a wealth of available resources for teaching America's "forgotten war," the War of 1812. As a teacher local to Baltimore, I have successfully used primary sources to teach a mini-unit on the war of 1812 for several years. Students participated in many different activities including creating and presenting speeches on whether America should go to war, analyzing primary sources (both text and cartoons) interactive websites in order to create "museum exhibit" like products, including PPT based virtual museums on the causes/events/effects of the War of 1812 and "Instagram posts" summarizing the War. Please join me as I show you how to bring these same resources to your students and classroom. 

Session Type: Workshop & Lecture

Presenter: Matt Young, Baltimore County Schools (MD)

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based, Military History, Museum Studies, Pedagogical Practices and Strategies, Technology in the Classroom, US History

Time Periods: War of 1812

Grade Levels: All 


"The Memorial is less for Abraham Lincoln than those of us today": The Lincoln Memorial Then and Now

As the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial approaches, examine the symbolism found at the memorial and see how the meaning has evolved over time. Look at primary sources about the dedication and other events that have taken place there. Consider ways to engage students in this story, whether in person or virtually. Think about how to incorporate memorials and historic sites into your teaching.

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: Jen Epstein, National Park Service—National Mall and Memorial Parks

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based, Placed Based Teaching, Political History, Primary Documents, Social History, US History

Time Periods: Civil War, Jim Crow Era, Civil Rights Era 

Grade Levels: All 


"The Most Brilliant Soldier": The Trials and Treason of Benedict Arnold

He was the "American Hannibal", the most fearless battlefield commander in the Continental Army. From Quebec to Valcour Island, to Ridgefield and Saratoga, Benedict Arnold was always in the thick of things. His leadership, devotion, and valor, however, went underappreciated by his peers and he was constantly overlooked while others received the credit he felt was due to him. Years of personal slights accumulated and after marrying the loyalist Peggy Shippen in Philadelphia, following a severe wound at Saratoga, Arnold began a downward spiral toward treason. In 1780, he abandoned his Continental general's uniform for a scarlet one. He had betrayed his country, but in his mind, his country had betrayed him. Through this story of raw human emotion and passion, find out what made this American hero become the Revolutionary War's most treacherous villain.  

Session Type: Lecture & Moderated Discussion 

Presenter: William Griffith IV, Emerging Revolutionary War 

Subject Areas: Memory Studies, Military History, Personalities, US History

Time Periods: Revolutionary Era

Grade Levels: All 


The Road to Revolution

Everyone knows the "shot heard around the world" fired on April 19, 1775, in Massachusetts. But, that was the end of the road toward rebellion and revolution. With every major event; Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, there were numerous smaller events that taken as a whole, helped created the revolutionary spirit that would see thirteen colonies break away from the largest empire in the world at that time. This workshop will examine a few of these paving stones on that road to revolution and how they can be added to lessons in the classroom. 

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: Phillip S. Greenwalt 

Subject Areas: US History, Political History, Social History 

Time Periods: Revolutionary War Era 

Grade Levels: All 


The 7th Inning Stretch of the Civil War

In the bygone years of war in America, how did soldiers cope with the stresses and ravages of wartime? In this hands-on workshop, students roll the dice by participating in the sports and leisure time activities of the Civil War. Participants will walk away with primary sources and simulation activities to take back to the classroom next school year. The 7th Inning Stretch will be an engaging discussion with kinesthetic activities that can be used in classrooms for all ages. 

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: Val Branch

Subject Areas: US History, Sports History, Military History 

Time Periods: Civil War 

Grade Levels: All 


Two Soldiers, US Colored Troops, and Post-Civil War Kansas

Historical memory can be tough to comprehend let alone follow. In this session, participants will enhance their skills to comprehend, analyze, and assess the meaning and significance of historical materials to develop and support their positions and viewpoints on why two former Union soldiers chose to not disclose to a Kansas census taker in 1885 their service as white officers leading black men in the closing years of the Civil War, but later made it their lasting legacies by having such service boldly declared on their cemetery grave markers.

Session Type: Lecture

Presenter: William E. Fischer, Jr., National Park Service

Subject Areas: African American History, Cultural History, Economics, Inquiry-Based, Military History, Race Relations, Pedagogical Practices and Strategies, US History

Time Periods: Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow Era

Grade Levels: High School, College Level


100 Milestones Documents

In this session, you will learn about how to use the National Archives 100 Milestones Document website to facilitate a hands-on learning experience for your students as well as a related cumulative assessment for them at the end of the year, based on 100 critical documents from US History selected by some of the nation's top historians. The time range is from 1776-1965. You will take the test as part of the workshop. An answer key to the test will be provided at the end of the session.

Session Type: Workshop

Presenter: James "Jim" Percoco, Loudon School for Advanced Studies (VA)

Subject Areas: African American History, Cultural History, Inquiry-Based, Memory Studies, Race Relations, Pedagogical Practices and Strategies, Political History, Social History, US History

Time Periods: Revolutionary War Era, New Republic, War of 1812, Antebellum Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow Era, Civil Rights Era

Grade Levels: All


Saturday Tours:

Baltimore & the War of 1812

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 3 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

Description: Many visitors to Baltimore are vaguely familiar with the story of Fort Henry and the Star-Spangled Banner, but few know the larger story behind the historic bombardment. A British occupation and the burning of Washington, D.C., served as a prelude to the actions near Baltimore. Locals and officials alike, scrambled to prepare the city for action, and slow the British juggernaut. The bombardment of Fort McHenry was the culmination of a larger campaign in the Chesapeake. Join National Park Service historian Vince Vaise as he takes you through the history of War of 1812 Baltimore. Visit Fort McHenry, Bladensburg, and other sites in between as you relive one of the most famous chapters in American history. 

Guide: Vince Vaise, National Park Service 


Civil War Baltimore

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 2 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

Description: Baltimore was a city in upheaval in 1861. Situated some 40 miles from Washington, D.C., and within a border state, emotions and tension ran high in the "Charm City." Join guide, historian, and Baltimore native Tim Smith as he leads you through some of the pivotal moments in Baltimore's Civil War history. From Lincoln's arrival in the city prior to his inauguration, to the Pratt Street riots, to the cemeteries serving as the final resting place of Baltimore's Civil War dead—you will explore the war within a city. 

Guide: Tim Smith, Adams County Historical Society 


George Washington's World: Mount Vernon & Old Town Alexandria 

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 2 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

In 1749 a young local Virginian cut his teeth as a surveyor laying out the town of Alexandria.  His home was located just nine miles south of this new town where he ultimately died fifty years later.  Yet in that half-century, the world in which he moved changed dramatically and he was one of the biggest reasons for it. That Virginian? George Washington. Spend the day touring sites associated with George Washington and his era in Alexandria and Northern Virginia including Mount Vernon. 

Guides: Phill Greenwalt, Emerging Revolutionary War & Dan Davis, American Battlefield Trust 


Gettysburg: The High Tide of the Civil War

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 2.5 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

The Battle of Gettysburg is one of the great turning points of the American Civil War. The battlefield serves as an open-air classroom for K-12 field trips and our military alike. Join world-class staff ride facilitator Doug Douds as he takes you through the high points of this important battle. You will explore the battle through the eyes of the combatants while experiencing the process that he uses to train today's military leaders. You will see the highlights of Gettysburg from Little Round Top to the High Water Mark in this fast-paced and fun tour through America's premier battlefield. Note: A classroom session for tour participants will be held on Friday, July 16, in conjunction with this tour. 

Guide: Doug Douds, U.S. Army War College


Lincoln in Washington, D.C.

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 2 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

Description: Although Abraham Lincoln was only in Washington for roughly four years (and often desired to be elsewhere!) his impact upon that city and that country cannot be overemphasized. Washington transformed from a squalid country town to a true capital city amidst Constitutional crises and the Civil War.  Join American Battlefield Trust Chief Historian Garry Adelman for a visit to Lincoln’s Washington as we walk in Lincoln’s footsteps with special experiences, and a proliferation of stories and imagery.  We are still making plans but hope to include Lincoln’s Summer Home, the grounds around the Executive Mansion, an exclusive visit to the site of the hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators and other familiar haunts. A total of 1 to 2 miles of walking will be involved, in three to four fragments.

Guide: Garry Adelman, American Battlefield Trust


The Social Side of Baltimore

Walking Level: Moderate. Approximately 2 miles of total walking on uneven terrain.

Baltimore is one of the oldest cities on the east coast, and it contains a rich social and cultural history. The famed flagmaker Mary Pickersgill called the Charm City home. As did Thurgood Marshall, Babe Ruth, Frederick Douglass, and Oprah Winfrey. Come and explore another side of Baltimore's history as we visit the Maryland Center for History & Culture, Hampton National Historic Site, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. We will focus on the stories of women, Blacks (free and enslaved), and the cultural tapestry that is Baltimore. 

Guide: To be announced


Sunday General Session:

Virtual and Augmented Reality in the Classroom and in the Field

Join members of the American Battlefield Trust Education Department as they demonstrate the awesome capabilities classroom capabilities of virtual and augment reality. These platforms allow you and your students to step into and interact with history—in the classroom or on a field trip. These videos and mobile apps are just some of the free K-12 offerings of the American Battlefield Trust. 

Session Type: General Session-Workshop

Presenters: The American Battlefield Trust Education Department 

Subject Areas: Inquiry-Based Learning, Place-Based Learning, Technology in the Classroom

Time Periods: Antebellum Civil War, Civil War, Reconstruction

Grade Levels: All

Speaker lineup and tour locations are subject to change.