History teacher presents at 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address

It’s been 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. Historians, including History teacher Michael Van Wambeke, took part in a Gettysburg Address Lecture Series from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19.

Van Wambeke was one of the three selected from a pool of 40 people by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He presented his “Understanding Lincoln” multi-media project during the sesquicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“[This project] helps for my recertification and my redevelopment for my professional development,” Van Wambeke said.

Van Wanbeke attended all of the ceremonies for the memorial. The three project presenters, the Professor and the facilitator from Gilder Lehrman met in the Wills House (the house that Lincoln stayed in the night before he presented the Gettysburg Address) to be part of a two hour long live broadcast to the other members of the program. Van Wambeke met other Historians like James McPherson.

“That’s what’s so cool. I got to meet other historians and I get to present to other history teachers.”

Over a month long period, Van Wambeke dedicated 50 hours to create a website built around the generals of the American Civil War. Each general has his own webpage related to SOL and IB standards.

Each webpage is designed to cover a different general with its own wordle that gives different descriptors of the discussion points and guiding tools. With other the help of other teachers, Van Wambeke made three YouTube videos that students can watch. Each video covers a different topic.

“Each video has different cutaways. It’s like a cheap Ken Burns,” said Van Wambeke.

Each one is set up like a paper one, with sources dealing with an essential question that is IB related.

Other teachers can use the website as a reference to guide their lesson plans.

Gilder Lehrman is a program that offers continuing education for teachers. Van Wambeke signed up for a seminar on “Understanding Lincoln” over the course of part of the summer into the school year. They met online through Live stream to talk about different aspects of Lincoln. The multimedia project was half of the culminating project, the other half being a research paper.

Van Wambeke said that the culminating project serves like an IB exam or an Internal Assessment.

“I’m always having students write out newsprint on a poster paper, and the activity is still fine but it’s not a 21st century activity,” said Van Wambeke. “For something like this [project], it helps me redesign myself as an educator. It gets boring doing the same things over and over again. To do something like this, I feel like it gave me a fresh look on the activities I do in my classroom.”

Van Wambeke said, “I bit off more than I could chew but I’m so stubborn that I had to finish the project.”