On Thursday 1st March, twenty-five teachers attended the first of two collaboration days between CSU’s History department and Social Studies teachers from across the district. The individuals most responsible for establishing this fruitful link up were Kurt Knierim of Rocky Mountain High School, Dan Rypma from Fossil Ridge and CSU’s Tracy Brady.

Dr. Ann Little speaks to the workshop participants

The morning started with an informative lecture from Professor Ann Little on recent developments in the study of Colonial America. The lecture concluded with a whole group study of a fascinating primary document from the era, that related the experience of a young colonial mother who was taken captive in New England in the early 1700’s. The document prompted discussion regarding how teachers can use primary sources to enable PSD students to develop a more complex understanding of historical periods.


Following a Q & A session with Professor Little, we engaged in a workshop activity led by Dan Rypma. This focused on the many different approaches that educators can utilize when using primary documents in their classroom. The teachers who were present from the District’s Middle and High Schools used this time and the suggested digital resources to work together to produce meaningful documents based lessons for their classes.

Attendees considering new ways to teach with primary sources


After lunch we had the pleasure of listening to a lecture on the Civil War from Professor Robert Gudmestad, who like his colleague in the morning discussed developments in his field. Professor Gudmestad highlighted how recent scholarship has tended to gravitate towards an interpretative approach known as the “Dark Turn”. This term describes the new wave of scholarly works which have focused on the disturbing and less glorious realities of the Civil War. A most worthwhile day ended in a Q & A session with Professor Gudmestad.


Dr. Robert Gudmestad discussing The Dark Turn in Civil War History

The 2nd collaboration day is set for Friday 30th March. The speakers on that date will be Jessica Jackson and Adam Thomas who will respectively lecture on 20th Century Immigration and the Cold War. After the success of the first day all participants are looking forward to this date and to a continuation of this partnership in the years ahead.




Written by Niall O’Dwyer, Social Studies Teacher,

Fossil Ridge High School