Free Teacher Professional Development for North Carolina Teachers

For 28 years, the North Carolina Humanities Council’s Teachers Institute brought challenging and stimulating professional development to K-12 educators throughout the state. In keeping with the tradition of providing access to resources for continued professional growth, the Humanities Council is redesigning our program to serve educators with enhanced tools and better access to those resources most critical for success in today’s classroom. In the meantime, the Council will continue to support our K-12 educators through a partnership with the National Humanities Center that provides free access to the Center’s professional development webinars for teachers.

Led by distinguished scholars and lasting ninety minutes, the Center’s webinars focus on primary documents and how to teach them.

For free registration, use the promotion code NCHC. Space is limited, so sign up now.

Spring 2015 Schedule
'The Catcher in the Rye': Holden Caulfield as a Teenage Rebel

Thursday, January 22, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTHolden Caulfield is an unlikely rebel. The son of affluent parents, enrolled in (and expelled from) expensive prep schools, untouched by poverty or racism, he would seem to have it made in the booming 1950s. Yet he is estranged from his parents, teachers, and friends. For him the world is insincere and untrustworthy or, as he would say, “phony.” His downward spiral through “madman stuff” in Manhattan leaves him contemplating suicide. Why? And why did his story resonate with so many white middle class kids that they made it an American classic? What was Holden rebelling against, and what does his rebellion tell us about America in the 1950s and 60s? A role model over half a century ago, is he one today?
Pre- and Post-Civil War Slave Narratives

Thursday, January 29, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTIn this seminar, we will examine salient passages from key texts representing the antebellum and postbellum slave narrative to consider how slavery, images of slaves themselves, and the meaning and purpose of freedom evolved in the slave narrative during the 19th century. From the antebellum era, we will discuss classic narratives by Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and William Grimes. From the postbellum era, we will examine texts by well-known figures, such as Elizabeth Keckley and Washington, and a few who have been seldom read or considered, such as John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay Bruce.
Popular Perceptions of WWII

Thursday, February 5, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTOn the 70th anniversary of the Yalta Conference of the Allies, this seminar highlights the complex relationships between domestic and international affairs and provides specific suggestions for getting students to make larger connections and apply their historical thinking to real-life scenarios.
Nation, Race, and Genocide: Terror in the 20th Century

Thursday, February 12, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTThis seminar will examine exactly how genocides came to be such a defining element of the 20th century. In so doing, the discussion will focus on how two of the 20th century’s most influential ideas, the notions of nation and race, played a role in fostering one of the greatest forms of human evil. Specific topics to be addressed will include the legal and scholarly definitions of genocide, the history of genocide prior to the 1900s, an examination of selected case studies of genocide from across the 20th century and around the world, and an analysis of international efforts to eradicate the practice of genocide.
Teaching 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'

Thursday, February 19, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTMark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was controversial from the moment it appeared. Banned in 1885 for being sacrilegious, the book has been objected to for being “racist” since 1957, and still frequently appears on annual top ten lists of books challenged in U.S. schools. Many objections to the novel stem from readers’ failure to separate the views of the author from those of the narrator. What can teachers do to help students recognize the difference between the two, and how can this awareness shape their understanding of Jim as a character? This webinar will give teachers a toolkit for approaching the challenges of teaching Huck Finn today.
Cuba and the Cold War: Beyond the Missile Crisis

Thursday, February 26, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTThe Cold War was a forty-five year confrontation between the United States and Soviet Union, but it was not fought on American or Soviet soil. Rather, it was essentially a competition for the allegiance of countries in the Third World — in Africa, South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Cuba played an important role in that competition because, allied with the Soviet Union, it supported revolutionary movements throughout the Third World. Moreover, it sought to spread its influence as the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, a loose alliance of nations that tried to avoid falling into the Soviet or American camp. This webinar will go beyond the Cuban Missile Crisis to explore Cuba’s larger role in the Cold War world.
Listening to the Past: Sound in the Classroom

Thursday, March 5, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTThe past sounded different. Telephones rang. Typewriters clacked. Steam trains hooted and chugged. Today, through recordings on the internet, these sounds are available as never before. Historians have recently begun to analyze these sound troves, and their work is reshaping our understanding of the past. This webinar will explore what the emerging field of sound studies has to offer high school teachers. It will examine a variety of resources, including the website “The Roaring Twenties,” an interactive exploration of the soundscape of New York City developed by the webinar leader Prof. Emily Thompson of Princeton University.
Teaching 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Thursday, March 12, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTHarper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is anchored in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, when the Depression locked the Deep South in poverty, and segregation was firmly entrenched. Yet the novel’s publication date is 1960, and in the five years preceding its appearance, Alabama, like all of the South, was nearly rocked from its foundations by violent political and social storms. In this webinar we will explore To Kill a Mockingbird as a work that bears witness to the tumultuous 1950s while it also dramatizes the historical forces ranged against any inroads threatening age-old southern institutions.
Teaching 'The Book Thief'

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTWhat keeps people silent in the face of moral wrongs? Do we have a moral obligation to help others? Is it morally permissible to resist authority in certain situations? In The Book Thief, Markus Zusak explores issues of life and death, friendship and community, oppression and resistance, and the nature of courage. This webinar will consider these topics within the structure of a community of philosophical inquiry, a structured, collaborative exploration aimed at constructing meaning and acquiring understanding through the examination of philosophical questions. We will begin with a short talk about ways to inspire a robust community of philosophical inquiry in the classroom. Participants will then be asked to engage directly with the framing questions posed, by responding to prompts and taking part in discussion, exercises and thought experiments.
The New Negro Movement in a Global Perspective

Thursday, March 26, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTThere is little question that the dynamic outpouring of Black arts and letters, known as the Harlem Renaissance, forever changed the course and shape of the modern world. Yet few have situated the renaissance within its larger context, when the “renaissance” was simply one part of a New Negro movement that spanned the globe. In this webinar we will recover the broader New Negro experience as social movements and popular cultures of Black literature, sport, music, protest, and public behavior stretched from New York to New Orleans, from Paris to the Philippines and beyond. It will become clear how the Harlem Renaissance was part of the New Negro Movement and also that the New Negro movement reached far beyond Harlem.
Images of Asians in American Culture

Thursday, April 2, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTCoined by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1895, the term “yellow peril” has come to describe the racial threat posed to the West by the rising powers of the Far East, specifically China and Japan. This webinar will explore the history of Asian America through the lens of the yellow peril, situating popular representations of these racial panics within the context of historical events and trends in immigration law, foreign affairs, and domestic politics. Along the way, we will investigate what it means to incorporate visual culture such as popular film, photography, political cartoons and advertisements into a history classroom. How can we look at these objects as more than antiquated displays of racism? Can these objects tell a history of more than subjugation and exploitation?
Introduction to Big History

Thursday, April 9, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTBig History tells the story of the universe from the Big Bang to our complex modern societies, by drawing on insights from disciplines such as astronomy, physics, biology, archaeology, history, anthropology and economics. Big History empowers students by showing how different knowledge disciplines are connected, and helps them reflect on the big questions: Why does our universe exist? Where do we come from? What challenges will the future hold for our planet and ourselves? In this webinar Professor David Christian, one of the founders of Big History will give an overview of Big History and his collaboration with Bill Gates on the Big History Project course now being taught in over 300 US schools.
Gandhi and King on the March: The Power of Nonviolence

Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTWhat accounts for the mysterious power of the nonviolent march? To address that question, this webinar will focus on two of the twentieth century’s most iconic — and spectacular — marches: the “Salt March” led by “Mahatma” Gandhi in the spring of 1930 and the March on Washington led by, among others, Martin Luther King, Jr. in August 1963. The Salt March catapulted Gandhi, already well known in many parts of the world, into a global symbol of anticolonial nonviolence, and the March on Washington was critical for transforming King, hitherto largely a hero of Southern blacks, into the nationally recognized face of the US Civil Rights Movement. These are well-known facts. But what is less understood are the precise mechanisms and devices, including the use of the media, by which both men pulled off such feats which, indeed, drew upon “the power” and “mystery” of nonviolent feet marching in a purposeful and orderly manner. This webinar will explore why and how “walking” and “marching” became so critical to the display of the sovereign body in motion and action for both Gandhi and King.
Imaging Civil Rights: Photography and the Movement

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTAs a mode of witnessing and documentation, a form of memorial, and a tactic of exposure, photography played a critical role in the movement for African American civil rights. Many historians mark the start of this engagement in 1955, with the murder of Emmett Till and the complex use of photographs to respond to that event. Over the next decade and a half, image-making would be embedded within the struggle for racial justice and civil rights both at the institutional level and on the broader landscape of American photojournalism. Some of our key interests will include the representation of private as well as public spaces as battlegrounds; stagings of encounters across region (North–South) as well as race and identity difference; and the struggle for ownership of imaging and images, played out not only in movement activities but also in their documentation.
Civil Rights and Rhythm and Blues

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM ESTWhen we think of the soundtrack of the 1960s civil rights movement, we tend to think of folk anthems. Some, like We Shall Overcome, were staples of movement rallies. Others, like If I Had a Hammer and Blowin’ in the Wind, transcended the rallies to become pop hits. But black popular music has had a much longer engagement with the freedom struggles of African Americans dating back to the dawn of recorded sound. By the time the civil rights movement accelerated in the mid-1960s, not only folk anthems but black pop music itself served the movement. What did this music say to audiences, black and white, about freedom, struggle, and equality? How did black artists use the marketplace as well as marching to do political work? What were the songs and voices that brought freedom calls to all Americans and people around the world?
Webinar texts are provided free online. The Center draws texts from a variety of sources, including America in Class® primary sources and lessons, and attempts to select fresh material that will invigorate classroom instruction.

Visit our webinar help page for technical specifications and details about the virtual classroom.

Recertification Credit: The National Humanities Center programs are eligible for recertification credit for North Carolina teachers. Each webinar includes ninety minutes of instruction and requires three hours of preparation reading and studying a syllabus of texts and images. Because the webinars are conducted online, they may qualify for technology credit in districts that award it. The Center will supply documentation of participation. For North Carolina teachers, three webinars will provide ten and a half contact hours or 1 CEU credit.

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