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June 11, 2009 / howardmestas

SPONTANEITY IN THE WINDY CITY

GOD BLESS AMERICA!Today it was back to the Chicago History Museum with our instructor Chip Brady taking us through the Document Based Questions project, or DBQ. I was familiar with this method of teaching from a previous workshop at CSUP, but each time it gets a little bit easier. Brady’s topic was about Prohibition; more specifically, “Why did America change its mind?” This was a pretty crafty question for a lesson topic, because the only way your students will be able to answer effectively is to research why we decided to change the Constitution for a ridiculous amendment anyway. I will use this method when assigning writing assignments, and have my students follow the outline that he gave to us. His method of creating group assignments was very effective and something I will definitely use in my classes.

The walking tour of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, on the other hand, was a giant disappointment. Perhaps my expectations were too high since I was really pumped up about it the day before, plus I saw Sarah Marcus’ commentary on a Weather Channel documentary about the great fire. The only thing we saw of any interest was a small remnant of an original Chicago street in a back alley near the museum. I have to admit it was a real eye opener to see that just like everything else in the city at the time, even the streets were paved with wood! No wonder the fire was so devastating with that kind of tinder box. As we walked toward the lake, my heart really went out to those desperate people and animals running for their lives toward the water; especially since they would have nothing to return to when it was over.

When we reached the lake, I decided to act spontaneously, so I rented a bike and did my own personal tour of the Lake Michigan bike paths. What a blast! I was able to make the 16-mile loop and still have enough time on my rental to ride the streets into the heart of the city. Yes, that’s me in the top photo under the 25-foot- tall American Gothic Sculpture at Pioneer Court on North Michigan Avenue overlooking the Chicago River. I was able to see the boat tours underneath the bridge; I can’t wait until we do that on Thursday.

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One Comment

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  1. lemo1 / Jun 11 2009 3:38 am

    The bike trip sounds cool. I like the pic with the huge American Gothic. Ray

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