The focus of the January 30th professional development day will delve deeper into the year-long investigation of historical perspective and the way we can use this narrative to tell the story of place in new and compelling ways.  The History Affinity Group began this journey after the successful Summer Institute and Ypsilanti Native American tour, sparking discussion about how to use history as a starting point for exploring EcoJustice themes.  In the October PD, Matt Siegfried followed up on the Summer Institute with an exploration of the historical perspective through place, using photos, buildings, streets, maps and historical markers as guideposts along the way.

jeffersonschoolteacherfannywingert(sit2ndright) (1)

A picture of Jefferson School teachers.



To delve into this topic further, Experiencia Academy, the Waldorf School, John Paul II and Neinas Elementary have been working with Matt to understand how their individual school grounds and buildings are a part of the history of the Detroit area.  For instance, on November 1st, teachers took a tour of a Huron Village site in Ypsilanti, exploring Native American landscape and history of the region, from the Pontiac’s Rebellion and Tecumseh in the War of 1812 to early Indian farming and village life, and post-European development.  Following this, the Waldorf School took a tour of the Detroit River all the way to the Huron River, identifying different uses of the waterfront by different Native groups, European settlers and modern industry.  In December, Experiencia students came to Eastern Michigan University and explored the placement and history of buildings and roads, and how they mirrored Native trails, French development and English settlement.

4756_detroit_1020 (1)

An early map of colonial Detroit.


Following the professional development day, comment on how you can use place-based history as well as our new website and blog to engage your class in sharing the story of their place.  There are so many ways this can happen effectively, whether it be a slideshow, interviews with community elders, or sharing resources that schools found helpful in learning their community’s history.  Please reflect on one of the following inquiry questions in the blog comments below:

  • Can you have PBE without a historical perspective?
  • How can we use a historical perspective to connect ourselves and our students to our own place?
  • Once we understand the historical perspective of a place, what is our ethical responsibility to that place?
  • What entry point allows us to begin to investigate a historical perspective in our work?

Matt Siegfried has shared some photos and documents from his investigations with teachers.  Use this blog as a place to reflect on your experience with your own history of place and what you’ve learned through the SEMIS PD!

91652 (1)

French lot lines along the Detroit River.