... about planning for the upcoming school year is knowing I won't be able to do everything in my first year that I've always wanted to do. I'm sure this is one of those times where I'll look back and laugh at myself for thinking so naively that it's going to be so easy to implement all these grand ideas, that the kids are going to love them, etc.
But for now I'm psyched. Stay tuned and maybe you'll get to see my descent into total cynicism and despair.
Anyway, one of my grand ideas, encouraged by NYU professor Diana Turk, is to base a quarter-long early U.S. history seminar around the study of material culture. The teacher finds a few really, really good artifacts and brings the objects (or good, clear images of them) into the students so that they can hold them, discuss them, write about them, and learn history through them. The idea is that kids will become experts in this particular method and will be psyched about doing the work of "real historians."
What I need to find are some really, really good artifacts. The class will cover the Americas: pre-colonization, colonization, and slavery. The Minnesota Historical Society has an online catalog of its holdings, which include numerous Ojibwe artifacts, but I haven't found anything quite awesome enough. I have a box of cotton bolls that I used in the eighth grade slavery unit, and it would be great to get a hold of some sugar cane. eBay has a lot of historical replicas, but I'm not sure if that will really do it.
So basically, this whole endeavor won't work if I can't find awesome enough items. Any suggestions you might have, any at all, would be extremely welcome!