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K-State Today

October 20, 2016

History teachers touch history

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Tom Vontz with social studies teachers review "The Federalist."

About 25 social studies teachers from across the region visited K-State's Manhattan campus Oct. 14 to handle some of humanity's most precious documents. 

The professional development day was led by Thomas Vontz, professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education and director of the Center for Social Studies Education. The activities were part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Civic Education — the James Madison Legacy Project.  

"Our K-State Libraries and librarians, in this case Laura Bonella and Sara Kearns, deserve high praise for bringing this collection to K-State and for helping us interpret the motivations of the authors, printers, and binders," Vontz said. 

After a brief training session in Hale Library about the history and handling of primary documents, the teachers headed to the second floor of the library where the books were on display as part of "The Remnant Trust's Wisdom of the Ages" exhibit. Librarians are available during open case hours to assist patrons handling the books. 

More than 40 of "The Remnant Trust's" items — some dating as early as 2500 B.C. — are in the collection. The exhibit, which includes the Emancipation Proclamation, Magna Carta and 38 other great works, will be on display throughout the semester. 

Blanche Wulfekoetter, social studies teacher at Jefferson West High School in Meridan, was elated to literally touch history. 

"What a joy and surprise," Wulfekoetter said. "I thought we were going to have just a lecture, which I do enjoy, but to actually touch the books, and, like the presenter said, 'mix our molecules' with people from the past, is really exciting. It's motivating to go back and share with my students." 

Collin Mangus, social studies teacher in Papillion, Nebraska, said he was using today's technology to connect his students to history. 

"I took pictures to show my students where these ideas came from and that they actually exist and that we can put our hands on them," Mangus said. "One of the hardest things for middle school students to do is to connect to ideas that are hundreds of years old, so I've been tweeting to them."

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