November 2009 Blog Posts (30)

Picasso at Nasher

Pablo Picasso is heralded as one of the greatest artists of all time. His 1937 piece Guernica, his most famous, portrays the horrific bombings of the Spanish town by Nazi war planes. The 20 X 12 ft work is the only Picasso piece I was familiar with, having not taken an art class since junior high. As an assignment for ECI 525, our class was asked to look at other Picasso works of art.

I made a trip to the Nasher Museum at Duke University on Saturday to see the "Picasso and the Allure… Continue

Added by John Jackson on November 30, 2009 at 10:48am — No Comments

Books in the Media Landscape

With media going digital there is still a place for traditional print media such as books, magazines, and newspapers. A recent interview with book lover Tucker Carlson was published in the Sunday Pittsburgh Tribune Review in which he talked about the joy of being a lifelong book lover. He acquired the trait from his dad and was seeking to instill it in the lives of his children. Carlson said his wife was a book lover too. To him, books connected him to certain times in his life. He kept various… Continue

Added by William G Covington Jr PhD on November 30, 2009 at 1:18am — No Comments

Designs for Democracy-Thoughts

"Designs for Democracy" is an online exhibition of 125 design drawings that show 200 years of history through archived government drawings. In case you read my blog here, and aren't in NCSU's ECI 525 class, here is a link to the site.

I spent a bit of time browsing through the online exhibitions and found it easy to navigate through as it appears to… Continue

Added by John Jackson on November 23, 2009 at 2:11pm — No Comments

Delightful Designs

This website is an extremely impressive compilation of different designs from the history of the United States. There is everything from symbols to building outlines. It is absolutely fascinating to see a side of something I had never considered. Everyone has areas of interest and I think that if this was brought to a class of adolescents they would eat it up. Some students would be more interested in discovering the construction behind a naval fort while others are more excited about the… Continue

Added by Lauren Ward on November 22, 2009 at 4:51pm — No Comments

Twitter and Communication in Revolutions

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook are playing prominent roles in countries where the political powers do not want free expression to occur. On there was a lecture talking about how a recent earthquake had been widely discussed on Twitter. Prior to this, in earlier times, it was commonplace for the Chinese governemnt to deny for extended periods that such a thing had taken place. Those days seem gone now that people can communicate with each other through social media. The… Continue

Added by William G Covington Jr PhD on November 21, 2009 at 8:45am — No Comments

Fragmentation in the Multi-Media Culture

Popular culture gives people shared experiences with which they can identify. In the United States the biggest such gathering occurs at the end of football season when the Super Bowl garners the largest ratings of any media event every year. Increasingly culture is becoming fragmented. People tune into their own radio stations, view their favorite TV shows, and frequent their select few websites. A national audience, which was common in the days of traditional broadcasting no longer exists.… Continue

Added by William G Covington Jr PhD on November 18, 2009 at 1:06am — No Comments

Horwitz Chapter 11

Adventures in Early America- Roanoke (Ch. 11)

In the 1570’s, increased support for exploring America began to rise in England. Sir Humfrey Gilbert’s failed attempt to find the land of Normubega sparked the explorations of Sir Walter Raleigh. The English arrived off of the coast of North Carolina in 1584. When they arrived, they met with the natives on an island called, “Roanoke; however, the English did not stay. Instead, they returned to England with goods and samples from the… Continue

Added by Mary Ashley Osment on November 16, 2009 at 6:02pm — No Comments

Horwitz Chapter 11

Adventures in Early America- Roanoke (Ch. 11)

In the 1570’s, increased support for exploring America began to rise in England. Sir Humfrey Gilbert’s failed attempt to find the land of Normubega sparked the explorations of Sir Walter Raleigh. The English arrived off of the coast of North Carolina in 1584. When they arrived, they met with the natives on an island called, “Roanoke; however, the English did not stay. Instead, they returned to England with goods and samples from the… Continue

Added by Mary Ashley Osment on November 16, 2009 at 6:02pm — No Comments


It has been a few years since I read Tony Horowitz's Confederates in the Attic. The book takes a look at the Civil War and its impact on the American public today. I found it to be greatly entertaining, and informative. I was able to breeze through it in two afternoons, and I tend to be a slower reader than most. His latest work A Voyage Long and Strange, is written the same way, and discusses some of the myths about early American history, from Viking Crusaders, to Columbus in… Continue

Added by John Jackson on November 16, 2009 at 11:30am — No Comments

A Classroom New and Strange

Tony Horwitz’s book, A Voyage Long and Strange, is unlike any history text I’ve ever read. It offers a plethora of information without bombarding the reader with useless side notes. Horwitz gets straight to the point in each chapter with humor and reality. He shares tales of his adventures with locals and his experience with different historically famous locales. I also enjoyed Horwitz’s opinions and modern-day perspectives of the stories we’ve been taught since grade school. In reality this is… Continue

Added by Lauren Ward on November 15, 2009 at 4:27pm — No Comments

Intuitive Writing

The mysterious way the right hemisphere of the brain operates is amazing. In recent years the research has increased and scientists are seeking to reveal more of the unknown to us. Fortunately some things are known now that were not known in the past. The intuitive part of the brain cannot function under pressure or on command. For creative insights to emerge, it must have raw data with which to work. Thornton Wilder observed, "writing is a coy game you play with your unconscious." Notice his… Continue

Added by William G Covington Jr PhD on November 14, 2009 at 4:51am — No Comments

Growth of Blogging

Technorati, a company that tracks and studies weblogs says that there are 18 blog posts being made every second. That is a lot of communicating. (Source: Jonassen, et al. Meaningful Learning With Technolog 3rd ed). Blogs are being used as virtual field trips that give students the chance to interact with others in meaningful ways. Blogging has been expanded from its original intent into various uses by different people.

Added by William G Covington Jr PhD on November 12, 2009 at 12:52am — No Comments

Dominican Republic "Do you think there are still Indians?"


This chapter is about Columbus' second voyage to Hispaniola and his establishment of a new colony "La Isabela". This settlement is now called Dominican Republic. He tried to enslave the inhabitants of this colony and convert them to Christianity. His attempt to establish a colony did not provide a good infastructure to the area, so the country is very poor today. Columbus travels around for city to city with a man named Caonabo and talks with the people they meet. Since this… Continue

Added by Denise Smith on November 10, 2009 at 11:10am — No Comments

Voyage Long and Strange - Christopher Columbus

Alex Teich

ECI435 – Summary of Christopher Columbus

Due: 11/10/09

Summary of Christopher Columbus’ Voyage Overseas

Christopher Columbus is well-known for his exploration of the “new world.” He’s credited with finding America by proving the European world that the world was indeed round not flat. In actuality Columbus didn’t discover America; and not to our surprise, he didn’t have the “round versus flat argument” with Europe. Truly, Columbus was a self-centered… Continue

Added by Alexandra Morgan Teich on November 10, 2009 at 10:32am — No Comments

A Voyage Long and Strange: Ch. 7

This chapter is about Spanish conquests throughout the South West United States. The journey begins in the pueblo of Cicuique. The Spanish Conquistador, Coronado, is followed throughout this chapter. It opens with Coronado and his army, holding El Turco, a now enslaved Indian to the conquistador. El Turco tells them of his land, Quivira. He says it is filled with riches and gold. Coronado is interested in El Turco’s homeland, and begins to journey towards it. They move from the pueblo Cicuique,… Continue

Added by Jena Smith on November 10, 2009 at 10:21am — No Comments

A Voyage Long and Strange, Chapter 9: The Mississippi

The Mississippi

The Conquistador’s Last Stand

During his stay in TN, De Soto sent scouts to search for gold in the mountains. When he discovered nothing, he turned his army south, toward Coosa, a wealthy Indian nation in northern Georgia.

After resting and refueling his army, De Soto captured Coosa’s Indian ruler and many of his people, and marched southwest, towards the Gulf coast, where he had arranged to meet ships from Cuba.

A few days after… Continue

Added by Rebecca Gwynne on November 10, 2009 at 10:20am — No Comments

A Journey Long and Strange Ch. 5- Cabeza De Vaca

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca: As told by Horwits Chapter 5

Cabeza de Vaca was one of the first Spaniard explorers to make the long journey across-country, dating back to the late 1520’s early 1530’s, way before Louis and Clark ever had thoughts of the Americas. With a long track record, highlighted by military accomplishments, Cabeza de Vaca joined an exposition to La Florida. After an entire summer of exploration through treacherous swamps, de Vaca and his comrade were attacked by… Continue

Added by Michelle Rena Harris on November 10, 2009 at 10:00am — No Comments

Vinland-A Summary of Chapter 1 of A Voyage lOng and Strange by Horwitz

Most of us know the basics of our American history: Columbus discovering the new land called America in 1492, the Pilgrims setting up at Plymouth Rock, the struggles of Jamestown. However, very few can correctly answer the question when asked who were the first non-native people to discover North America. Sure you will get some creative guesses: the Spanish, the Portuguese, maybe the Chinese. But rarely will you find someone who knows of the brave voyagers called the Norse. I guess you could… Continue

Added by Brian Carnesecchi on November 10, 2009 at 9:00am — No Comments

A Voyage Long and Strange -- Chapter 12: Jamestown

Many people don’t know the true story of our country’s origin. Over the years, many people have chosen to recognize Plymouth and Williamsburg as America’s roots because their stories are tied to peaceful relations and morality, but in actuality it is the settlement of Jamestown where it all began. The Virginia Company was chartered in 1606 and sent men to settle in “North Virginia”. The Englishmen chose to situate themselves on a swampy peninsula which proved to be a bad choice as the men were… Continue

Added by Julie Cox on November 10, 2009 at 1:04am — No Comments

Political party history

A little background quiz----

1. Which of the following positions are considered Republican and which are Democratic.

a. Government provide citizens with a "safety net" or some form of support in terms of health care, retirement, and unemployment.

b. Each individual has a right to own fire arms and that right should not be limited.

c. Public schooling is an operation that is best left to states or local governments.

d. Money supply should be managed by a federal… Continue

Added by John Lee on November 10, 2009 at 12:35am — 8 Comments

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Teaching about Historical Reconstructions using the Vail Telegraph Key

The reconstruction of historical inventions can provide a powerful context for students to explore how inventions affect society. In fact, the social impact of the invention of the telegraph ripples through to today. It set the stage for the invention of other communications technologies such as radio, television, and the Internet. The ability to send messages across wires in a fraction of the time humans were accustomed had a profound impact on society. Rossiter Johnson captured the spirit of that change in an 1882 poem written in tribute Morse and the telegraph. The poem describes limits of humans imposed by nature, but imagines that with the invention of the telegraph those limitations begin to fade away.

But one morning he made him a slender wire,
  As an artist’s vision took life and form,
While he drew from heaven the strange fierce fire
  That reddens the edge of the midnight storm;
And he carried it over the Mountain’s crest,
And dropped it into the Ocean’s breast;
And Science proclaimed, from shore to shore,
That Time and Space ruled man no more.

Students often have myopic views about how technologies impact their own lives. While it is true that students today seem to live in a constant state of ‘revolution’ regarding new technologies, an understanding of history can temper our enthusiasms. By studying records and relics from the past, such as Johnson’s poem, students can build up a long view of technological innovation and understand how the telegraph fits in that history.

Students can also use these experiences to explore important historical skills related to cause and effect. A reconstruction of the Vail telegraph key provides students with an opportunity to examine the development of scientific knowledge and challenge the narrowly constructed textbook history of the telegraph.

The history of the telegraph is typically transmitted to students as a neat and tidy story about Samuel Morse and the 1844 transmission from Baltimore to Washington DC of the message “What hath God wrought?” But, history is never so simple. Behind the story of Morse is the complex history of the invention of the telegraph, and that story is impossible to tell with Alfred Vail.

A social studies activity exploring this complicated history might begin with the simple question – Who was on the other end of the message sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844? Of course, it was Alfred Vail. From there, students might explore Vail’s 1845 book length survey of the history of the telegraph, The American Electro Magnetic Telegraph: With the Reports of Congress, and a Description of all Telegraphs Known, Employing Electricity or Galvanism.  The book, which has three parts, includes a detailed description of the telegraph system developed by Vail and Morse; letters, reports, and other correspondences about the development of the telegraph system; and a contemporary history of the telegraph. Students can analyze this source to develop questions for inquiry about the development of the telegraph in the 1830s and 1840s.

From Hathi trust and Harvard Library at

The Lincoln Telegram project provides another avenue for exploring the newly invented telegraph and, specifically, how it affected the course of the Civil War and its participants.

The Lincoln Telegrams Project

The Lincoln Telegrams project ( includes digital versions and transcriptions of 354 telegram memos written by Lincoln from March 10, 1864 to his death in April of 1865.  The telegram memos function as source material for helping students and teachers understand how to analyze historical sources using the Hicks, Doolittle, and Ewing’s SCIM-C method ( Direct access to the telegrams, either via the web or through an iPad app with the same content, allows students to explore the historical context and follow the ways in which the telegraph affected communications during that era.

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