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Minnesota Historical Society Brings History into the Classroom for Black History Month

Using video to teach America's cultural heritage.

Students from a St. Paul, Minn., middle school participate in an interactive lesson from “Inventions that Changed the Nation,” where students accompany inventors on their creative quests. BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Video Guidance, a visual communications consultant, and the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) together are transforming students’ lives by making history visually available to students statewide through a network that incorporates existing video conferencing technology in schools. In February during Black History Month, Video Guidance and MNHS are focusing the creative History Live programming on the landmark Dred Scott Supreme Court decision of 1857.

Each History Live lesson is designed with different learning styles in mind, encouraging kids to see, hear, repeat and act with hands-on activities. For example, in the featured lesson for Black History Month, “The Dred Scott Family & The National Debate Over Slavery,” students are encouraged to use their critical thinking skills to re-write the historic Dred Scott decision in eight words. Then, a virtual avatar is created to read the students’ words back to them. This avatar is published to the web for students and teachers to share, revisit and incorporate into other classroom activities.

“MNHS’s unique programs, such as its award-winning History Live, are a perfect application for video conferencing technology,” said Mike Werch, president and CEO of Video Guidance. “Without leaving the classroom, these compelling programs offer a new shared window into history that are educational and thought-provoking.”

Werch understands how video conferencing is an enormous benefit to educators and others, particularly in rural areas.

“Video Guidance can provide real-time, interactive visual communications in areas with little or no access to experts and specialists,” said Werch. “Working with the Minnesota Historical Society is a textbook example of how to combine technology and education to positively impact our students anywhere, anytime.”

From the “Loons and Lady Slippers: All About Minnesota” lesson to the popular “Inventions that Changed the Nation,” the History Live program offers 10 high-quality lessons that meet state and national academic standards.