Skip navigation
All Places > History Community > Blog > 2019 > April
2019

 

With the U.S.’s carbon footprint growing, air quality flunking, and a 12 year warning to stop planet warming Earth Day is not in its heyday.

 

On April 22, 2019 Earth Day celebrated its 49th anniversary. Let’s make this birthday one to remember! Below are actionable items you can take every day of the week to continuously celebrate Earth Day and improve the Earth:

 

Day 1 - Turn the faucet off

We waste gallons keeping the faucet on while we: bathe, wash our hands, wash our dishes, brush our teeth, etc… (Water.USGS.gov)

 

Day 2 - Buy/Use a reusable water bottle/coffee cup/straw!

You’ll save plastic and always be hydrated :)

Plus, many coffee shops offer discounts for bringing your own container! (Eater)

 

Day 3 - Update your light bulbs

Here’s a bright idea! Switching your light bulbs to energy-efficient can save 25%-80% less energy and last 3-25 times longer.

Plus, you can save $75 a year (Energy.gov)

 

Day 4 -  BYOB

Bring your own bag anytime you shop. “Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile.” (Earth Policy Institute)

 

Day 5 - Go meatless for a day

The U.N. reports that the meat industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It's also estimated that over 1,800 gallons of water are used to produce just a single pound of beef. (GoodHousekeeping)

 

Day 6 - Unplug at night

Your electronics need sleep too! Power off and shutdown your electronics to save energy overnight.

 

Day 7 - Volunteer at an Environmental Organization

Check out idealist and volunteermatch to find an organization near you and get one step closer to saving the planet.


Did we miss any? Let us know other ways we can clean up the Earth below? Comment below and we’ll send you one of the following books (your choice!) from our Environmental and Nature  trade books:

 

As another Easter passes by we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the ways we celebrate and honor this holiday. Take a look below to learn more about Easter’s traditions and symbols.

 

Full moon rising (Almanac)

Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon?

Specifically, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox.

 

Hop into the holiday spirit (History)

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

 

Incredible Edibles: Dyeing Easter Eggs (MentalFloss)

The tradition of decorating eggs of all kinds—even ostrich eggs—may go all the way back to the ancient pagans. It’s easy to see why eggs represent rebirth and life, so associating them with spring and new growth isn’t much of a stretch. To celebrate the new season, it’s said that people colored eggs and gave them to friends and family as gifts.

 

When Christians came along, they likely incorporated the tradition into their celebrations. According to some legends, Mary or Mary Magdalene could be responsible for our annual trek to the store to buy vinegar and dye tablets. As the story goes, Mary brought eggs with her to Jesus’ crucifixion, and blood from his wounds fell on the eggs, coloring them red. Another tells us that Mary Magdalene brought a basket of cooked eggs to share with other women at Jesus’ tomb three days after his death. When they rolled back the stone and found the tomb empty, the eggs turned red.

 

Roll with it (White House)
The White House Easter Egg Roll officially dates back to 1878 and the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, but first-hand accounts suggest that informal festivities began with egg-rolling parties under President Abraham Lincoln. Starting in the 1870s, Easter Monday celebrations on the U.S. Capitol’s west grounds grew so popular that President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds, citing landscape concerns.

 

Hunt for joy (Good HouseKeeping)

The Easter egg has pre-Christian associations with spring, but much later, Christians related eggs to the resurrection of Jesus. The egg became a symbol for the tomb from where Jesus rose, just days after his crucifixion.

 

The first egg hunt can be traced back to Martin Luther, a central figure during the Protestant Reformation — men hid the eggs for women and children to find. The happy act of finding an Easter egg during the hunt is supposed to remind us of the joy that the women (believed to be Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome) felt when they came to Jesus's cave and found it empty.

 

Candy is Dandy (History)

Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s (although the jelly bean’s origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight). According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide. For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep, a sugary, pastel-colored confection. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923) began selling Peeps in the 1950s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies.

What’s your favorite Easter tradition? Comment below!

Writing this blog is akin to keeping a journal of my professional life. The topic development, drafting, and editing process that takes place every two weeks allows me to evaluate what I’ve done in my classroom or my research, and helps me to formulate future plans. As a result I’ve become increasingly introspective about the implementation of ideas and content in my classroom. Since this week’s edition is my 50th blog for Macmillan Community I thought I would take some time to reflect on how blogging has enhanced my teaching over the past two years.

 

First and foremost, blogging has helped me to identify what has and has not worked. Prior to writing this blog I admittedly spent very little time thinking about why an assignment was a success or a failure. I would annotate my copy of the assignment with comments/feedback from students or observations I had made and then, inevitably, those notes would disappear into a course folder only to resurface the next time the very same assignment was about to be employed. Knowing that each assignment is potentially something to share with the Macmillan Community has led me to embrace the process of self-evaluation and reflection.

 

Blogging has increased my attention to student outcomes. Everyone working in higher education today has faced the challenge of identifying ways in which learning goals can be determined and measured. Certainly I had worked with colleagues to establish outcomes for our history courses prior to writing my first blog. Writing about my assignments, their goals, and outcomes, however, has helped me to fine-tune this process. I’ve been able to recognize ways in which students may be guided to see more clearly how learning history truly does aid them in their paths to professional (non-historian) careers.

 

Finally, blogging has encouraged me to take the time to do more careful reading. Though I’ve always encouraged my students to read newspapers and websites to draw connections to historical topics, I have not always listened to my own advice. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day challenges of life that we cannot take the time to truly reflect upon what we are reading. Writing this blog has encouraged me to slow down my reading -- especially of online content -- and consider with greater thoughtfulness how I might help students place what they read in context.  

 

What I continue to gain from the experience of blogging, therefore, is the knowledge that writing about teaching contributes to a more meaningful experience for me as the teacher, even after nineteen years in this profession. Two years after starting this blog I feel more connected to what happens in my classroom than ever before. It is my hope that my students’ learning experiences have been enhanced as well.

 

Do you keep a journal about your classroom experiences? If so, what have you learned from that practice?

During my sabbatical this spring I’ve taught only one class: Black History delivered fully online. It’s at this point in the semester, with five weeks of classes remaining, that I assign students a final research project: a 6-8 page study of a person, event or organization from the post-World War II civil rights movement. I let students choose their own topics with the hope that they will be more motivated if they have a personal interest in the subject matter. I have several goals for this project.

 

First I want students to demonstrate proficiency in basic library research. I require each student to use one book-length narrative, two academic articles, and three primary sources. Proficiency in library research requires properly formatted citations and a complete Works Cited page. Students are required to submit a draft of their Works Cited page to me early in the process, which is graded.

 

Second, I want students to show me that they understand the broader significance of civil rights activism over time. I ask them in this project to identify with examples the people, events, or ideologies from earlier historical periods that have influenced their topic. For example: students who choose to examine Brown v. the Board of Education need to demonstrate that the founding of the NAACP in 1909 had a long-term impact for the civil rights legislation in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

 

Properly integrating primary source examples into the narrative of their essays is my third focus. The three primary sources I require can be images or text. I encourage students to include images of their subjects but remind them that they must explain the images to their readers. Often times students will simply copy and paste an image into the research paper. My instructions, however,  include an example of how students can add to the quality of their projects by providing historical context for the images and citing them in-text.

 

Finally, I want to give students the opportunity to study a topic in detail that we might not cover in class readings/discussions. To cover Black History from 1600 to 1970 or so in one semester is virtually impossible. Many students have deeper interests in people or events that can be more fully explored through this kind of research project.

 

One of the challenges I face when assigning this project is convincing students to step outside of their comfort zone when they select a topic. It’s common, for example, for students to choose Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr, because they feel confident that they know something about these icons of the movement. By requiring each student to submit his/her topic to me via email before beginning the library research, I have been able to widen their focus. When a student chooses Rosa Parks, for example, I tell him/her that Parks’s arrest and actions in Montgomery in 1955 should account for no more than one paragraph of the final paper. Students who initially chose Parks as a topic because of the bus boycott have been amazed by all of the other -- less known -- work she did in her lifetime.

 

What kinds of projects are your students doing to end the semester? Are there challenges that you have faced in previous semesters that you seek to avoid this time around?  Let’s discuss.