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Preparing for a One Day Seminar

by California Digital News

One-Day seminars are the easiest way to engage with Teaching American History in person. These are free to attend for all social studies teachers and can be in historical locations, school districts, and educational service centers. For a few hours, teachers can dive into the content of primary source documents through a discussion with colleagues facilitated by a scholar. Lunch is provided, and at the end of the day you head home with an attendance letter.  

Faculty member Dan Monroe at a One-Day seminar in Spring 2022

Although One-Days are designed to fit around a teacher’s busy schedule, it is important to spend some time preparing for the day. Here is some advice from teachers who frequent One Day seminars.

  • Complete as much of the readings as possible. Course packs (you can find a sample here) are sent 3-4 weeks ahead to give teachers a chance to carve out some time to read.  This allows participants to prepare their thoughts and questions and join in the conversation to really get the meaning behind the documents.  You have the opportunity to participate in some deep and meaningful conversations and the more reading completed, the more you can jump right to those conversations at the seminar! That can be daunting, however, for a first timer.  “[What I do] is read through the readings that are provided rather slowly,” says Brandon Floro, a teacher in Tontogany, Ohio. “While I read, I highlight or underline answers to the questions provided for each section. I also highlight or underline remarks that I found interesting in the documents that I think would add to the discussions. I also look up words/terms that I know are unfamiliar to me as they help bring context to the documents at hand. Lastly, I will look up maps or visuals that may be of assistance to gain a visual understanding. For example, when reading the Missouri Compromise, it helped to look up a visual of the map where the lines were drawn so I could physically see where it was.” Ron, a teacher in southern Ohio, echoes Brandon’s advice: “I read the packet and highlight things that strike me as important. I then annotate in the margin things about which I may have a question or jot down something that is connected to another reading or to another historical event or concept.”
  • Plan your drive and possibly stay the night.  Some of our one-days are in incredible locations! Whether you’re going to be driving to see the beautiful Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina or the vast fields in Corning, Iowa you want to make sure to plan your trip to include traffic and sudden weather events.  Perhaps staying in a hotel the night before or planning an early morning might be your best bet. Either way, One-Days start at 8:55 am and end at 2:15 pm to allow busy teachers time to travel. If you don’t see a One-Day in your neck of the woods, reach out to TAH staff to get one there! We would love to come to your school – and will do so for free. Check the schedule! We have One-Days on weekdays and on Saturdays.  Book that substitute, and then make sure you come!  TAH staff will typically reach out several weeks prior to the seminar to confirm attendance.  Since materials are printed and sent and lunch is offered at most [all?] seminars, we want to make sure our numbers are correct. TAH wants to ensure that the seminar is as meaningful as possible!

Our hope is you leave a One-Day with a better understanding of content and are ready to take it back with you to your students. Steve Kohler, a social studies teacher in Sandusky, remarks “[One days] have reinvigorated me as a teacher and given me so much to take back to my students….  [They] have made me a better teacher and given me more to share with my students, ” We look forward to seeing you at one! 

Interested in scheduling a One Day at your district? Email us at [email protected]!

Courtney Reiner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Studies degree from Kent State University and a Master’s of American History and Government degree from Ashland University. She taught 14 and a half years in northwest Ohio and is currently TAH’s Teacher Program Manager for Ohio.

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