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PVMA draws teachers to history workshops

DEERFIELD — This week about 40 teachers from across the country have gathered in Old Deerfield to immerse themselves in study of the 1704 French and Indian raid on Deerfield.

In the heart of historic Deerfield, the teachers learned the history behind the February pre-dawn raid in which 300 French and Native Americans raided the English settlement on the Pocumtuck homeland, capturing 112 settlers.

“Deerfield has fantastic heritage and history,” said Elizabeth Higgins, a Grade 5 teacher from Maine. “It gives us a background to develop lessons to teach students.”

The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association is hosting the two free week-long workshops.

The first session ends today. The second session is July 28 through Aug. 2.

The workshop offered teachers an opportunity to delve more into the history and learning of the New England battles before the Revolution and to develop enriching lessons for students.

It is open to both public and private school teachers of kindergarten through grade 12.

“It’s really intense, but I’m getting a lot of information,” said Joy Kinley, a high school teacher in North Carolina. “This is an area of history I’m not as familiar with.

The workshop is called “Living on the Edge of Empire.” It is led by historians Kevin Sweeney, Marge Bruchac, John Demos and Joanne Melish in addition to members of the PVMA Teachers’ Center and Historic Deerfield Inc.

The seven-day workshop includes readings, small group sessions, site visits and classroom strategies. During the evening, activities include historical films, music, food and dance.

Bringing it back to students

Many teachers were fifth-grade educators — the grade in which students begin to learn more about American history. As part of the program, each teacher develops his or her own lesson plan.

On the third day of the workshop, many teachers already had ideas in mind.

Genevieve Dodge, a fifth-grade teacher from North Reading, said she will incorporate analyzing and charting captivity into her history lessons.

Susan Pomasko from Marlboro School in New Hampshire will create geography lessons on landscape and incorporate how English, Native Americans and French people used the land.

Dorothy Adams of Maine will teach dialogue accents to students to express the views of French, English and Native American people.

The annual program is developed and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which promotes excellence in the humanities and history learning for all Americans.

The workshops include $1,200 stipends to help cover costs of housing, meals and transportation.

Each participant applies for the program annually, which is limited to 40 people. There are several similar workshops across the country.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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