Virtual Teacher Institute 2021

All of the sessions from our second annual Virtual Teacher Institute
Virtual Teachers Institute
Teachers are gathered here in a picture from the first Virtual Teacher Institute which was hosted in response to travel restrictions, the virtual aspect is now a potential option for those educators who cannot join their cohort on the battlefield but still wish to engage with the Trust and their counterparts.

Watch videos of the 38 sessions from our second annual Virtual Teacher Institute, and download all of the associated materials.

Over five days, we offered thirty-eight workshop sessions and engaged with educators across the globe. Browse and watch the sessions offered at our 2022 Virtual Teacher Institute. The Virtual Teacher Institute is a free program funded by the HTR Foundation and the members of the American Battlefield Trust. 

General History Sessions          

American Revolution Sessions 

War of 1812 Sessions         

Antebellum & Civil War Sessions 

Early 20th Century Sessions


General History Sessions:


The Medal of Honor Character Development Program: Inspire Your Student with the Stories of Heroes

For all grade levels: Inspire your students through the stories of heroes. Join us to learn how the Medal of Honor Character Development Program uses the stories of Medal of Honor Recipients and Citizen Heroes to teach students about the values of courage, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society's free resources includes lesson plans, videos, webinars, free online training and in-person professional development workshops. The lessons are built to engage students in collaboration, critical thinking, and personal reflection while showing them that everyone can be a hero and make a difference. 


Using Ancestry, Fold3 and to Make History Relatable (Keynote Session)

For all grade levels: Ancestry, Fold3, and are available to accredited K-12 schools for free to use in the classroom.  Learn how to apply for the program, the basics of all three sites and what resources you will find that will allow your students to turn soldiers into real people and make the past come to life.


Using American Battlefield Trust Resources in the Online Classroom and Curriculum

For all grade levels: This session will explore opportunities to use resources provided by the American Battlefield Trust in the online classroom and course curriculum. This includes presenting lessons in a Learning Management System (LMS; ex: Google Classroom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.) and within live interactive sessions (ex: Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc…). This session will offer participants the background knowledge and opportunity to develop high-quality online learning lessons.


Behind the Scenes at The History Channel: From TV to Museums to Historic Sites Near You (Keynote Speaker)

For all grade levels: Join Kim Gilmore, in-house historian at The History Channel, to hear about how ideas move from the page to become television shows, how and why networks aim to reach new audiences, and the role historians can play in shaping public history. You'll see videos, hear about upcoming projects, learn about how you can find new education resources, and you'll have a chance to ask fun questions about shows ranging from Grant to Alone to American Pickers.


Teaching History with Empathy and Inclusivity

For all grade levels: History is not easy to teach. Elements of our nation’s history are often “mistaught, mischaracterized, sanitized, and sentimentalized” (Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Hard History, 2018). As instructors, we need to be mindful of the social and emotional dynamics in our courses because they impact learning. We will discuss several strategies instructors can implement to create a productive and inclusive climate and justice-sensitive educational experience.


American Battlefield Trust Youth Leadership Team

For Middle School and High School: Join Connor Townsend to explore the youth leadership opportunities supported by the American Battlefield Trust. Our Youth Leadership Team, targeted towards high school students, offers leadership, media, lobbying, and fundraising training, three all-expenses-paid trips, and a community-building experience. Americana U is the Trust's new peer-to-peer social influence and education program is targeted towards college students. Students involved in Americana U are provided with leadership, media, lobbying, event planning, and fundraising training, offered mentorship opportunities, and more. Learn more about these programs and how they can elevate your student's future college and job applications


American Revolution Sessions:


Dear Diary: Getting Personal with the Revolution's Many Players

For all grade levels: The American Revolution is often painted with broad strokes, either emphasizing its political legacy or examining military strategy, leading many to study the thoughts of collective groups (ex. the Continental Congress) or popular leaders like George Washington. However, there is much to be gleaned from individual reflections written in diaries and letters. Not only providing insight into battle tactics and troop movements, these sources can also reveal individual reasons for joining the fight, information about class and racial struggles, the nature of gender roles and different family structures, how religion was used as a guiding force, the popular fashion, literature, theatrical works, and music of the day, as well as many other aspects that enlighten us on how multifaceted Revolutionary society truly was. This workshop will explore diverse perspectives in the Revolution and use excerpts from accessible diaries and letters to demonstrate how educators might discuss and examine such sources in the classroom. By bringing these sources to the classroom, students may also be empowered to journal their own thoughts and one day provide their own primary sources of the history unfolding around them right now!


A Drop in the Bucket: Uncovering Women in the Revolution beyond Molly Pitcher

For Middle School and High School: Molly Pitcher is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to women in the Revolution. Women were everywhere that men were during the Revolution, and had critical roles to play in the development of a new nation. From women’s overlooked presence in major Revolutionary moments to their tenacity on the homefront and beyond, this session uncovers less common stories of women who endured the Revolution, and whose strength, resilience, and sacrifices can help us teach a more complete narrative of America’s founding and early national period.


"We Fight, Get Beat Rise and Fight Again": Nathanael Greene and the Reconquest of South Carolina

For all grade levels: By December 1780, Continental efforts in the South lay in tatters. Diasters at Charleston, Waxhaws and Camden opened the door for the British army under Charles, Lord Cornwallis to carry the war into North Carolina. The new American commander, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, faced a massive task of rebuilding an army and stopping Cornwallis. In just three, Greene executed a strategy that swung momentum to the Continentals and forced Cornwallis to shift his operations to Virginia. Rather than pursue, Greene set out to drive the British from South Carolina once and for all. Join Dan Davis, the Trust’s Education Manager, for an exploration of this closing chapter in the American Revolution. We will discuss the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, the Siege of Ninety Six and the Battle of Eutaw Springs, among others as we trace Greene’s campaign to free South Carolina from British control and secure Independence.


Fighting for My Freedom

For High School and College Level: Fighting for My Freedom is a comprehensive look at the Revolution from the perspective of African-Americans in the many roles that they played throughout the war. From free men to formerly enslaved veterans of the war, they all rally behind the same ideals that started the war for independence summed up by one of the most controversial phrases in America, All Men Are Created Equal.


Finding Life Lessons in Revolutionary War Battles

For all grade levels: With a history nearly 250 years old, it can seem daunting to find modern relevant connections when studying the American Revolution outside of "freedom" and "independence". And unless you're a military cadet learning battle strategy, focusing on specific battles for that relevancy can be even more difficult. This session breaks down how to look for universal meanings hidden in historical narratives.


Season of Independence

For all grade levels: The events surrounding the United States Declaration of Independence are filled with nuance and provide a window into the experiences of everyday people at the moment of our nation’s founding. Using a map and timeline as its foundation, Season of Independence tracks statements of support for independence over time and across the 13 American colonies in rebellion, while placing those colonies in a larger geographic context. Throughout, it presents the voices of those who supported independence, disagreed, and hoped to avoid a war altogether. Join us in this session to dive deeper into the Season of Independence while learning how to incorporate the Museum's free season of Independence online interactive and Teacher Resource Guide into classroom learning.


The Diversified Art of the War for Independence

For Middle School and High School: In this session, you will learn how to make art history connections with your students through artistic interpretations of the American Revolution that depicts the diversified nature of the participants of the American Revolution.


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

For Middle School, High School, and College Level: 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.


Finding Freedom

For all grade levels: Presenting a well-rounded history of our nation requires teachers to present diverse perspectives and experiences.  The Museum of the American Revolution’s new Finding Freedom online interactive resource explores the stories of five real people of African descent living in wartime Virginia as they contemplated their best opportunities for freedom, liberty, and self-determination. Join us to discover the many helpful features this resource offers teachers and students and explore opportunities for using them in your classroom.

The Museum of the American Revolution works to uncover and share compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Many of these stories are explored in the Museum’s core galleries, through immersive environments, life-like tableaux, object displays, and short films. Some stories, however, are so rich that to fully explore them, the Museum has created digital interactives within the galleries in order to dig deeper and more fully expand upon them.


Winning by Not Losing: Teaching the Revolutionary War through Battles, Biographies, and Primary Documents

For all grade levels: What do Robert Morris, the Declaration of Independence, and Washington's Crossing(s) have in common? The Declaration of Independence has little meaning if Washington's Crossings are unsuccessful, and without Morris to finance the venture, there may be no United States. Join Kristopher White of the American Battlefield Trust, as he walks you through the symbiotic relationship of the Founding Fathers, the Founding Documents, and battlefields of the Revolutionary War. Learn how you can engage your students through primary documents, biographies, and place-based (virtual and in-person) learning experiences as we explore some of the highlights, and lowlights of the Revolutionary War. 


Lessons in Leadership: Teaching George Washington in the Classroom

For all grade levels: This workshop will provide context for introducing Washington's role in the American Revolution, and how his leadership was crucial to winning the war. By using four key events of the war, and supplementing useful information to help craft the narrative, teachers will be given helpful lesser-known stories and resources that will connect students with why his leadership was so vital to American independence. Teachers can expect to receive useful techniques in connecting historical figures to modern-day audiences; providing the appropriate narratives to ensure truthful, educational lessons, and ultimately, walk into the classroom confident that what you’re about to present asks questions and leaves answers open for discussion.


The Road to Revolution

For all grade levels: 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. 


The Cabinet: George Washington, Councils of War, and the Creation of an American Institution (Keynote Session)

For Middle School, High School, and College Level: 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.


War of 1812 Sessions:


Fortifying Your Health: Making Fort McHenry Relevant in a COVID-19 World

For all grade levels: Nothing is more relevant in our lives today than the ongoing pandemic. This presentation will explore hands-on activities and lesson plans that will allow students to combine history with STEM principles, and explore the history of Fort McHenry through modern eyes. Important parts of Fort McHenry’s history are driven by medical practices, learn the history and the science behind what happened!


Teaching the War of 1812 Through Primary Sources and Technology

For all grade levels: 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. 


Antebellum & Civil War Sessions:


Lessons from Civil War Williamsburg

For all grade levels: Join Drew Gruber as you virtually walk down the famous Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Virginia. Together you will peel back the layers of history and explore several Civil War stories. Each anecdote will focus on investigating a different primary source and offer a different method and activities for you and your students. For example, by dividing your classroom we will explore how the spatial landscape both affected and was affected by the Emancipation Proclamation. 


Civil War Medicine and STEAM in the Classroom

For all grade levels: 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. More than 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.


A Teaching Moment: The Story of the United States Colored Troops

For all grade levels: This presentation will serve as a guide for teaching your students the history of the United States Colored Troops and the immense role they played in the American Civil War. Specifically, we will be using primary source accounts to talk on these topics: how the war was changed by the USCT, the intersection between the institution of slavery and the USCT, famous engagements, statistics, debunking myths, and correct terminology. All these and more will help you become a better teacher in telling the story of these men. By the end of this presentation, you will be able to create lesson plans that are both informative and factual.


Washington and Baltimore: A Civil War Photo Extravaganza

For all grade levels: 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 in a way available nowhere else!


Civil War Weather: An Interdisciplinary Examination

For Middle School and High School: As historian Ken Noe reminds us, “The Civil War happened outside.” Over the past two decades, historians have taken a deeper look at the impact environment had on Civil War soldiers and events. In addition to learning more about the effect of weather, participants in this session will discover ways to employ scientific methods and principles in the history classroom, both in-person and virtually, to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Tackling Civil War Controversy in the Classroom: Encouraging Critical Thinking

For Middle School, High School, and College Level: 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.


The United States Colored Troops in Images

For all grade levels: The Spirit of Freedom: African American Civil War Memorial lists the names of 209,145 members of the United States Colored Troops. At the beginning of the American Civil War, three out of four of the individuals listed on the memorial were enslaved and played a part in freeing themselves. The African American Civil War Museum offers free resources to classrooms across the country to help educators teach about the United States Colored Troops. This session will explore the multitude of images and oral histories that humanize these historical figures and how to incorporate these primary sources into your classroom.


Civil War Math: A Hybrid, Storytelling Approach

For all grade levels: In every battle of the Civil War, soldiers and officers employed the discipline of mathematics. Whether it was the rate of march, angle of battle lines, or aiming a cannon, calculations were ever-present on the field. Join staff of Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center and discover an interdisciplinary approach to the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg that can get those math students interested in history, and history students interested in math!


Interrogating Civil War Letters (Keynote Session)

For all grade levels: Are Civil War letters transparent windows into the past? This question will guide our discussion of primary sources from Union and Confederate soldiers. Participants will read, examine and analyze the words of men who were trying to make sense and meaning of warfare.


Decision Points at Gettysburg

For all grade levels: Explore the "Decision Points" virtual field trip that includes a short classroom film, primary source documents and a focus question that asks your students to consider the decision points and consequences of Gettysburg's African-American residents during and after the Civil War battle.  Then learn more about all of Gettysburg National Military Park's virtual field trips as well as other ways for you to incorporate the battlefield, primary sources and critical thinking skills into your social studies and language arts units.


After Pratt Street: Maryland My Maryland, Free Blacks, and United States Colored Troops

For all grade levels: Following the Pratt Street Riot in 1861, native Baltimoreans in the city and around the United States had a variety of different reactions. For some, like James Ryder Randall, the events in April of 1861 were a sign that Maryland should join the confederacy. For others, like Black Baltimoreans, the Pratt Street Riot and resulting political polarization in the state led to high recruitment of Maryland United States Colored Troop Regiments. Join Alexander Lothstein of the Maryland Center for History and Culture as he explores the effects the Pratt Street Riot had on the writing of Maryland, My Maryland and the recruitment of United States Colored Troops in 1863. K-12 educators will gain access to relevant primary source collections such as prints, newspaper articles, and maps, as well as packaged instructional materials that can be used in the classroom to address related topics.


Seeing (and holding) the Civil War: Using Visual Images and Material Culture in Civil War History (Keynote Session)

For all grade levels: Civil War Americans produced millions of written documents—diaries and letters, battlefield reports and newspaper articles—to track events and their responses to them. They also looked at and purchased photographs, magazine illustrations, and material objects that brought home the realities of war. 

Because students are already quite adept at “reading” images and objects in their daily lives, these historical sources can be very useful for conveying the Civil War’s events and meanings in the classroom. This talk will introduce teachers to available collections of visual images and material culture (related to my work on wartime destruction and the Civil War West), and will suggest ways to help students analyze them as evidence of the Civil War's many histories.  


Choosing a Path to Freedom: Connecting with Stories of the Enslaved at Hampton

For all grade levels: This presentation will examine newly discovered stories of enslaved African Americans at Hampton National Historic Site. Lessons will offer opportunities for students to apply critical thinking skills to individual narratives and evaluate the options available to enslaved people during the Civil War. Students will explore stories of empowerment, courage, skill, and self-determination as they learn about the challenges and individual choices that shaped the lives of Hampton’s enslaved population.


Civil War Census Project

For all grade levels: Professor Bud Robertson once declared that to understand the American Civil War, one needed to uncover the human emotions that reached into every corner of the nation. One way to quantify the war’s effects and to engage middle/high school student discussion is to analyze census records. Whether used on their own or in concert with other available records, students can gain a greater understanding of the war, its aftermath, and how its legacy continues to touch our nation. Regardless of where you teach, this project can be adapted to meet local needs, enhance local history, and supports multiple state standards. Who thought that census records could be so provocative?


Reel History: Using Civil War Movies in the Classroom

For Middle School, High School, and College Level: Movies are the predominant way Americans interact with their history. Such a pattern presents pitfalls and opportunities alike. Join Jared Frederick for an engaging presentation outlining how you can use Civil War films (even highly flawed ones) to stimulate critical thinking in the classroom. Pass the popcorn for a lively conversation on history, memory, and motion pictures!


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

For all grade levels: 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 today.


Early 20th Century Sessions:


From Gettysburg to the Western Front: Ike, Gettysburg, and the Spanish Flu

For Middle School, High School, and College Level: When the average person hears the word Gettysburg, they often associate it with the famous Civil War battle or President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. But, did you know, that Gettysburg National Military Park was utilized by the War Department during the First and Second World Wars? It was at Gettysburg where a young Dwight D. Eisenhower held his first command. And it was at Gettysburg where Eisenhower faced his first crisis as a commander, the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Few know that the 1918 flu epidemic was deadlier to the civilian population of Adams County than was the Gettysburg Campaign. Join American Battlefield Trust Senior Education Manager Kristopher White for a different view of the Gettysburg Battlefield. Learn about leadership, disease control, cultural history, battlefield preservation, and how you can utilize all of these lessons in your classroom or on your next field trip to Gettysburg. We aren’t the only ones that have dealt with a world health crisis!