First African American Paratroopers Honored

There’s an interesting story today on CNN about the 555th Parachute Infantry Company, which was the first African American Paratrooper unit in the United States.  They were formed during WWII and are finally being honored for their services. 

The 555th, or “Triple Nickle” (incorrect spelling intentional) served by making over 1200 jumps on the West Coast of the United States-the only area in the US mainland that was hit during the war by incendiary bombs from Japan.  The paratroopers were responsible for putting out fires the bombs started before they could grow into huge forest fires.  This was an important task, and also a secret task because the government did not want the public to find out what actually started the fires. 

Only 3 of the original 17 members of the 555th are alive today, but they are being honored at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Female WWII pilots honored 65 years later

There is an interesting story on CNN today about a group of former civilian pilots during WWII who have never been honored for their assistance during the war.  Fewer than 300 Women Airforce Service Pilots are alive, and about 175 of them traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

This is a story I haven’t heard before, and I’m glad that these women are finally receiving some recognition for their efforts during the war.

Spring and summer seminars and fall conferences

I’ve got information on a couple of seminars coming up, as well as a Civil War conference in the fall.

First, in April, there will be a 3 day residential seminar at Mt. Vernon.  It is a completely funded program, and will take place from April 9th thru the 11th.  (Please note that April 9th is the Friday of Spring Break.)  Participants will be housed on the estate.  I’ve included the announcement, application, and schedule.  For all other questions concerning the seminar, contact


Mt. Vernon Seminar Application

Mt. Vernon weekend schedule

This year’s Presidential Academy will be held from July 11-29 in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Gettysburg.  The application for this seminar is due March 15th.  We had a teacher who attended this a few years ago who had a wonderful experience, learned a lot, and brought back many many materials.  To apply, visit

And finally there will be a one day conference on the Civil War in September, at Norfolk State University.  This is a free conference and registration is open to the public, although seating is limited.  The conference is entitled “Race, Slavery, and the Civil War:  The Tough Stuff of American History and memory.”  It will take place on September 24th, 2010, which is a Friday.  You can find a list of topics that will be covered, as well as the historians who will take part in the conference at  Registration information is also available on their homepage.   

We encourage you to apply for these opportunities!  They often give away lots of materials, and you walk away with new information to add to your lessons.  Good luck!

Items of interest

Just a few things that may be interesting…there are several announcements, take a second to scroll through them all.

1.  Old Dominion University Center for Economic Education

 NEW REGISTRATION PROCEDURE:  REGISTER ONLINE at the Virginia Council on Economic Education’s workshop page and search by SPONSORING CENTER (ODU) for more information and to register for the workshops.  *If you do not immediately receive a confirmation email then your registration did not go through. Try again, or email Ruth Cookson ASAP.

 Focus: Understanding Economics in US History: Grades 6-12

Thursday, October 29, 2009 4:30pm – 7:30pm

Virginia Beach Higher Education Center

        Help your students to not just understand “what happened” but “why it happened” using active- learning lessons from the Council on Economic Education.  These 39 lessons, ranging from early Native Americans property rights to the economic problems faced in the 1970’s, use a unique mystery-solving approach to teach U.S. History to your high school and middle school students. Lessons are correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning. Each participant will receive the curriculum guide Focus: Understanding Economics in US History – a $50.00 value – FREE.  Registration is limited to 25 teachers. This program made possible with support from the CEE with funding from the U.S. Dept of Education Office on Innovation and Improvement and the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation.  USI.1, USI.5, USI.6, USI.7, USI.8, USII.1, USII. 4, USII.6, USII.9, VUS.1, VUS.2, VUS.3, VUS.6, VUS.8, VUS.9, VUS.10, VUS.15

 Economic Skills You Can’t Live Without! Decision-Making & Cost-Benefit Analysis: Grades 6-12 

Monday, December 7, 2009   4:30pm – 6:30pm

Virginia Beach Higher Education Center

        Teachers will leave this session understanding how economics really is a “life skill” rather than a dismal science! Kudos to the Virginia Board of Education for adding these essential skills to the revised 2008 History & Social Science SOL and the draft of the new Economics and Personal Finance course. This workshop will prepare teachers for these new skills by demonstrating various decision-making models as they apply to everyday life. Then teachers will practice those skills by applying them to specific SOLs using decision grids, cost/benefit analysis, and the economic way of thinking.  Teachers will receive all lessons.

 What Every Student Should Experience: Stock Market Game™ Grade Levels: 4-12

Coming in January 2010     FULL DAY WORKSHOP!
New and veteran SMG teachers are invited to attend this day-long workshop.  Ask questions from an investing expert from the business world who will share the technical and practical information you will need to play this game in your classroom. Correlated to the SOL in math, business/marketing, social studies, and technology, it has been proven time and time again that teachers can in fact fit the game into their already-packed teaching schedules. Teachers will have an opportunity to practice navigating the SMG website and will gain access to a wealth of online curriculum materials designed to make playing the game almost effortless. Contact Ruth Cookson  if interested.

 Free  Online Stock Market Game workshops from the Virginia Council on Economic Education!!

Learn how to play the SMG from the comfort of your own home or classroom computer!   These free webinars only take an hour and will give you a good start on how the game is played and how to incorporate the SMG into your existing curriculum.    All you need is internet access and a separate phone line to participate.  It’s fun, free, easy, and convenient!    Go to   to register.

 Introduction to the Stock Market Game Program

Thu,  Jan 14, 2010 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM repeating 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM 

 Tour the Stock Market Game Teacher Support Center

Thu,  Jan 21, 2010 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM  repeating 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM  

 Tour the Stock Market Game Team Portfolio 

Thu,  Jan 28, 2010 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM  repeating  7:00 PM – 8:00 PM  

2.   Copy of the Declaration of Independence coming to VA Beach!  For more info, check out

3.  Supreme Court Summer Institute

Street Law, Inc. and the Supreme Court Historical Society will sponsor the annual Supreme Court Summer Institute, June 17-22, 2010. The institute is open to secondary level social studies teachers & supervisors, who will spend five stimulating days on Capitol Hill and inside the Supreme Court learning about the Court, its past and current cases, and how to teach about them from top Supreme Court litigators & educators. We will also be in the Court to hear the Justices announce the final decisions of the term and attend a private reception at the Court.  Interested educators can apply online (under the “Registration Info” tab), at and the application deadline is March 15, 2010.

4.  From the Gilder Lehrman Institute, an on-line exhibit about John Brown.

150 years ago, on October 16, 1859, John Brown and a band of followers, black and white, attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The raid was part of a larger plan to destroy the slave system by freeing and arming slaves, and it was one of the sparks that ignited the Civil War.

To see highlights from John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy, an exhibition of documents and artifacts from the Gilder Lehrman Collection on display at the New-York Historical Society from September 15, 2009 to March 25, 2010, click here:

Innovator Grants and HBO Archives

The application for this year’s Portsmouth Schools Foundation Innovator Grants has been sent out.  Awards of up to $500 will be distributed to Portsmouth Public School teachers, staff, or parents.  The applications are due by noon on Friday, October 9, 2009.  Projects can be done in teams.  Here’s the application in case you need it.

PSF Grant Application

I just checked out a new resource from HBO Archives.  It’s the March of Time newsreel series, which was produced from 1935-1967.  The films are free, but you do have to register.  (It only takes a couple of minutes.)  There are many newsreels covering different topics, some of which are relevant to our curriculum.  (Moreso for middle and high schools.)  There are a lot of reels from the 1930’s (covering topics like the CCC, TVA, King Cotton, child labor, etc.)  A few reels from the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s are also posted.  HBO is still working on restoring and posting footage, so the list will certainly grow. 

Clips vary in length, but could be an interesting primary source addition to your lessons.  I’ve watched several already and they are very interesting and give a good insight to the mindset of the time.

Colonial Architecture Lecture at Courthouse Galleries

On September 26, 2009, the Courthouse Galleries in Downtown Portsmouth will have a lecture on colonial architecture and the restoration process of Colonial Williamsburg.  The speaker will be Dr. Carl Lounsbury, who is the Architectural Historian at the Architectural Reserach Department for Colonial Williamsburg. 

The lecture will take place at 1pm and requires registration.  The pre-registration fee is $10, same day registration is $15.  The fee also includes admission to the museum’s current exhibit, Freedom:  Evolution of the Motorcycle. 

For more information and registration, call 393-8543.

Carl Lounsbury Flyer[1]

Interactive look inside the White House

Diana Davenport shared this interesting link with me.  It’s a virtual tour of the White House.  The site shows you a floor plan, with certain rooms highlighted, providing more information on that room.  Some rooms (such as the Oval Office) also offer a 360 degree panoramic of the room.  You can look at the main part of the building, as well as the East and West Wings.

When U-Boats Attacked

The Pilot is running an 8 part series (beginning yesterday) about German submarines and the part played by Virginia and North Carolina during WWII.  Part of the article is interactive, with a video and photos.  Unfortunately, to read the articles online you must be a subscriber to e-Pilot, or you’ll have to get a newspaper.  (They may run the series online at a later date for all to access.)  This could be an excellent tool to show students how WWII affected the homefront.