Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Where were you when…?

By on November 5, 2008

Man walked on the moon.  JFK assassination.  Shuttle explosion.  9/11.  Obama elected president.  Where were you when history was made last night?

Clearly, not all of these rank quite as high as the memories from last night, but there are those events in life that stand out for us as events of united memory.

Tapping into those united memories in the classroom and making students feel like they were present for history will help their own unity and comprehension.  Think Aloud about this moment.  Even if their families voted for McCain, remind them that they should feel pride for being present during the making of history, whether it be is the unprecedented voter turn-out, the possibility of a female vice-president who may even run in 2012 to become president, or the reality of an African-American president.  It happened here, now, during their lifetime.

Remind them too that there are children once again in the White House.  This is an opportunity to discuss Point of View, Tone/Mood, and Figurative Language.  Have them write from the Point of View of the Lincoln Bedroom.  Maybe it’s going to be Malia’s?  What history has it seen?  Write from the Point of View of Sasha seeing The East Wing for the first time.  There are so many possibilities.  So much hope.

Where were you last night?

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  1. Anne Bain Epling
    November 5, 2008

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    Those are good thoughts that I’ll share at dinner tonight. We’ve been talking politics non-stop and took the kids to see Obama here in St. Louis-100,000 people. As I told the boys this morning, all doors are now open, and that is an incredible thing. My sermon title for Sunday is “Hope Trumps Fear”. Amen. It’s about time.

  2. heather
    November 5, 2008

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    Thanks for commenting. My students really took it seriously today when we spoke about taking a “mental shapshot” of history as it was happening. The McCain supporters and Obama supporters all were in awe that they could share this moment in history together. I also asked those who would have voted for McCain, what that could do to move on from disappointment in order to find commonality and happiness in this united states. I asked my Obama supporters, what could they do to help others feel included in the hope that they feel today.

    We also talked a lot about what it meant to disagree. It’s important that people don’t see the “other side” as crazy because of their opinions. We talked about passion for one’s opinions and having more passion for our unity and commonalities.

  3. Mike Albert
    November 11, 2008

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    Speaking as an historian, I thought that it was interesting that the “defining moments” you mentioned can be divided into two distinct categories. JFK, Challenger, and 9/11 fall into the “shocking” category — events that shocked people at the time, and may or may not prove to be harbingers of the future (JFK was, and 9/11 appears to be; Challenger was not); or events that were important but can be seen with hindsight as clearly the inevitable culmination of a series of events, although each could have gone either way at the time (Obama, moon landing, VE day, etc.).

    My own 8th grade classes went overwhelmingly for Obama; what was more interesting to me was their opposition to Prop. 8, which I sense was not how their parents (overwhelmingly Hispanic) actually voted. My hope is that this election portends the beginning of the kind of activism and involvement that will be needed to solve some of the problems we have gotten ourselves into.

  4. heather
    November 11, 2008

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    We seem to all share that hope. The other unifying memory that I thought of was The OJ Chase. It was such a photograph of our present place of relations in this country. Thanks for the comment, as always.
    Hope your school year’s going well!

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