Monday, November 20, 2017

3 Reasons to Explore the Nanjing Atrocities 80 Years Later

Survivors of the 1937 Nanjing massacre pose for a photo during a ceremony in Nanjing on July 6, 2013; Han Yuqing/Corbis.
An original version of this post was published on November 20 on Facing Today, a blog by Facing History and Ourselves.

By Mara Gregory on November 20, 2017
Ms. Gregory is the International Project Manager at Facing History and Ourselves

December 13, 2017 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Atrocities. Between December 1937 and March 1938, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the city of Nanjing, unleashing a spree of violence, murder, and rape on thousands of women, men, and children.

Popular memory and history lessons often begin World War II with Europe in 1939. Few people know about the history of World War II in East Asia and the mass violence that took place in Nanjing two years before. As we come upon the 80th anniversary, consider these three reasons to teach about the Nanjing Atrocities.

Broaden your teaching of World War II beyond a European focus

Studying the particular history of the Nanjing Atrocities can help young people and teachers attain a more balanced and complex understanding of World War II and its legacies today. It can also widen students’ perspective and foster global awareness. Dr. Jing An, who uses Facing History’s Nanjing resource to prepare future educators as an assistant professor of social studies education at the University of South Dakota, states: “If teachers don’t teach these topics, generations will eventually forget they ever happened. This won't help students with their global awareness and it will deprive students of the opportunity to compare and contrast similar historical events that happened between different groups of people during the same time.”

Explore the range of human behavior

This history provides an opportunity to examine human decision-making in many forms. Studying the atrocities committed in Nanjing will help students and educators understand the impact of world events on the way that leaders think about their country’s place in the world and the way communities view themselves. It allows us to examine the consequences, played out in the decisions of leaders and individuals, that can arise when nationalism and militarism remain unchecked. And it allows us to explore stories of resistance and rescue, including those of the individuals of the Nanjing Safety Zone Committee, who risked their own safety to document the atrocities and rescue upwards of 200,000 Chinese nationals during the height of the violence.

Acknowledge a history that is often forgotten

Evidence of the atrocities exists in the testimonies of survivors, soldiers, and witnesses, as well as in photographs, films, and legal records. Yet this history is widely unknown outside of East Asia. At the same time, the differing ways this history has been treated within East Asia have important repercussions in contemporary geopolitics. Studying the events in Nanjing sheds light on the significance of historical legacy and collective memory, and the consequences when atrocities are forgotten or denied. The commemoration of the Nanjing Atrocities provides an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on that horrific event, and to consider what steps we can take to avoid such atrocities in the future.

In commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Nanjing Atrocities, join us for a webinar on Teaching the Atrocities at Nanjing. To accommodate both US and international audiences, this webinar will be offered twice: November 29 from 8-9 a.m. US EST and November 30 from 3-4 p.m. US EST.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Does the Ancient Middle East Have Lessons for Today

Here’s a terrific essay about the similarities between the ancient and modern states of the Middle East. It might be a great assignment for students as a review of what happened in Asia after Alexander the Great died or for students studying the Middle East today.

In an essay for the History News Network, Philip Jenkins, professor of history at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, argues that the ancient history of the Middle East is not that different from the chaos and terror that characterizes the region today.

Jenkins looks at the Seleucid empire in 200CE with its capital city just twenty miles from Bagdad. He notes that at its height, it was the most populous city in the world. In India, Seleucid power imported war-elephants, perhaps the most cutting-edge military weapon of the day. And the empire left a rich cultural heritage in science, a result of the Greek influence of the Seleucids.

The Romans defeated the Seleucids in 190BCE. The empire split up and outside powers worked hard to keep them divided. Their division allowed Greek conquerors to unite the Mediterranean world with central Asia and control the profitable textile and spice trade. “Then as now,” Jenkins argues, “greed for priceless raw materials drove political aggression and interference.

Jenkins goes on to show how Persia filled the vacuum produced by the break-up of the Seleucid empire, just as it seems to be doing today.

Jenkins is a great historian and his new book, Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World, looks very interesting.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Globalization: Boeing as a Example--PBS Newshour

Teaching Globalization?

Here's an excellent clip from the PBS Newshour which shows how Boeing depends on the global market place to build its planes. (scroll to about 1:57 to start)

Boeing shows PBS economics reporter, Paul Solmon, a big table map with different parts of a Boeing plane from markets all over the world.

For example, the fuselage comes from Japan, the rudder from China,  and the wheels come from Britain.

The advantage of so much outsourcing, according to IMF chief economist, Simon Johnson, is that those suppliers  are likely to buy the completed plane.




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The French Revolution: Madonna & More

Here are three short entertaining clips about the French Revolution and Napoleon. 

The first reviews Napoleon's life in a three minute cartoon. Madonna sings about many of the events of the  French Revolution in the second clip, and the history channel reviews the effectiveness of the guillotine int he third clip.




Sunday, November 5, 2017

Teaching Context and Synthesis

Teaching context or synthesis? Here's a short documentary on the impact of the Columbian Exchange that does a great job with both. 

I showed about 20 minutes of “When World’s Collide: the Columbian Exchange” and was able to point out to students a definition of context and synthesis, and  even a way to write a CCOT thesis.

After talking about contact in the New World, the host goes back to Spain and to Ferdinand and Isabella. He then provides context for Spain on the eve of exploration reminding us of wars of religion and the Catholic conviction of Ferdinand and Isabella. He then ties this context back to exploration saying that their religious conviction will have an impact on exploration and the New World.

We examined synthesis twice. First, the host notes that many indigenous Americans held on to some indigenous beliefs despite conversion to Catholicism. Where did this kind of thing happen in another part of the world? How about Islam moving into Africa?

Later in the video, the host describes the impact of the Potosi silver mines on Spain. We related the inflation on Spain to the inflation on Egypt when Mansa Musa made his pilgrimage centuries earlier.

Finally, the host notes that despite many changes with contact, some continuities in indigenous culture continued. I stopped the clip and reminded the kids that he just made a perfect CCOT thesis and asked them too look for evidence.

When Worlds Collide on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Foot Binding: Great Essay from Atlantic Magazine

Want to know more about foot-binding which began in China in the 10th century during the Tang Dynasty?

The Atlantic Magazine has a terrific essay about the origin and impact of foot binding.

Did you know, for example,  that it started when an emperor's concubine bound her feet for a dance. The practice spread as other women wanted to imitate her in order to gain the emperors favor.

And did you know that practice continued well into the 20th century. Pearl Buck wrote about it her best-selling book, "The Good Earth.
AGerbil - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7379520ption

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Story of the Buddha: British Museum

The British Museum has an excellent site about the Buddha.

You can read the story of the Buddha based on the museum's stone reliefs.

You can also explore The Great Stupa at Amaravati and play a game matching Buddhist symbols but you will need adobe shockwave to play.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Footbinding 101

Here's an excellent clip about Chinese foot binding that I found on EdPuzzle. It's just over two minutes.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Congress of Vienna: BBC Podcast

Here's an interesting podcast about the Congress of Vienna from BBC Radio. How did the great powers come to Vienna?  How did they decide in it? What were the turning points.

Greece & Rome: Two Awesome Video Reviews

Here are two terrific video reviews of Greece and Rome. 

The Greece review runs 18 minutes and the Rome review runs just over 20 minutes.



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Zheng He Voyages

Studying the Ming Dynasty?  Here's a nine minute clip from Engineering an Empire about the treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng He along with a longer documentary.

Asia for Educators also has good resources for Zheng He. They have a section that outlines the Admiral's seven voyages. I copied that section and printed it out for students and gave them an outline map of Afro Eurasia and had students trace the routes.

Finally here's an excellent colorful map from National Geographic showing the voyages.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Makes the Great Wall so Great? TedEd clip

Here is a terrific TedEd video that reviews the history of the Great Wall and explains what makes it so great. You can view the TedEd lesson here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Egyptian Scribes: Two Great Clips

What place in  ancient Egyptian society did scribes hold?  How did they come to write on papyrus and how did they do it?

Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago,  answers all these questions in this short three minute clip.
And here is another look at ancient Egyptian scribes from Smart History, which is now part of Khan Academy. Hosts Beth Harris and Steven Zucker examine a seated scribe made of painted limestone and crystal.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

PBL: 5 Keys to Success


Here is a great introduction to PBL from Edutopia.

The video reviews five key elements you need to be successful: establish real world connections, build rigorous projects,  structure collaboration, facilitate learning in a student-driven environment, and embed assessment throughout the project.

Edutopia has a short clip for each of the five elements.

Teach Content Vocabulary With Football!

Luke Rosa, a social studies teacher in Virginia, developed an interesting way to teach vocabulary. Below, he explains how he does it.
Courtesy of Luka Rosa

Student Teams


Here’s how it works.

I place students on teams of 4 (3 or 5 also works depending on your class load), and create a schedule. There are some great simple free schedule-makers online, including Playpass and League Lobster.

Students are given sets of 10-15 vocabulary words each week. I print them out in sets of 6 to a page that I cut up in strips and have students paste in their notebooks (see the example photo to the left).

We’ll then cover those terms in our lessons that week and students are responsible for defining the words in their notebooks. They can ether get the definitions from our lesson, look them up in a textbook, or find them online.
Game Day!

Game Day


Monday is game day! To make it exciting, I’ll have the Monday Night Football or Fox Sports theme playing as they’re walking in. Students take a vocabulary quiz based on those words from the previous week.

My quizzes are very short — just 10 questions and designed to only take the first 15 minutes or so of class. I make the answer sheet very easy to grade. I start grading them as soon as the first student hands it in. The answer sheet allows me to grade them quickly, so I can and usually have most graded before the last student even finishes!

Scoring


Each student’s score goes towards their grade, but they also get combined to make their team’s score.

So, if the 4 students on the Giants combine for a 32 and they’re playing the Panthers who scored a combined 31, then the Giants win! So simple, but so much fun! I knew I had caught on to something when students began to tell their teammates, “You better do all your vocabulary this week. I don’t want to lose!” They get so competitive!

These are vocabulary quizzes and my students actually looked forward to them! Students would pop back in the next period to see if they won and check the updated standings I had on our bulletin board.

Differentiation 


Each year, I make a few changes and find ways to differentiate based on my class levels. For my team-taught inclusion classes, students can take the quiz using their notebook page with the definitions (if they did them that week). I found this is a great motivational tool. When a student who didn’t complete his vocabulary that week opens to a blank notebook page, his teammates will let him have it. It also encouraged more critical thinking on answers than just memorization of terms. For my on-level classes, I will often project a word bank, but don’t allow them to use their notebooks. My honors classes might not get the help of either.

The Super Bowl 


You can have your “season” last as long as you like. I usually go about 12 weeks then move on to the playoffs and culminate with a Super Bowl. The playoffs have teams playing against teams in other classes, which gets a lot of of fun. Teams that lose still take the quizzes, but they’ll just count towards their individual grades. I’ll get a prize for the winning team like Chipotle gift cards or pizza after school.

This VFL strategy has been a huge success for my classes and I am sure it will be for yours as well!