Professional Development Workshops:
The Role of Congress in Federal Holidays
Saturday, November 4, 2017
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Capitol Visitor Center, Congressional Meeting Room North
Guest Speaker: Dr. Daniel Gifford, Term Assistant Professor, George Mason University
Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November? Why do we have the day off from work and school? Join the Capitol Visitor Center for a teacher workshop exploring the role of Congress in federal holidays and the unique history and development of Thanksgiving.
We will explore congressional history, the law-making process, holiday stories, primary resources and artistic imagery. And, we will make curriculum connections that students will enjoy back in the classroom.
The Capitol Visitor Center offers periodic professional enrichment programs for teachers. Programs are typically offered on Saturdays in November and February, and during the week at the end of June or beginning of July.
Previous Professional Enrichment Programs:
A Century of Women in Congress
This program was offered in conjunction with the 2016 National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Washington, D.C.
The House Historian’s Office, the Senate Historical Office, and the Capitol Visitor Center Exhibits and Education Division offered a workshop for teachers interested in learning more about the women who have served in the House and the Senate, with a special emphasis on the election of the first woman in Congress, Representative Jeannette Rankin, in 1916, through the groundbreaking “Year of the Woman” in 1992. The workshop offered a variety of instructional activities led by experts in the field. Participants spoke with House and Senate historians and Capitol Visitor Center educational specialists about the historic role of women in Congress, as well as viewed documents, objects, and photographs about women who served in Congress and received tips on how to use these primary sources in the classroom.
The Reflection of a Nation: Building and Expanding the U.S. Capitol, 1793 – 1892
Speaker: Tom Fontana, Director of Communications and Marketing Division, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
We Shall Overcome: Congress Passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Speaker: Dr. Kate Scott, Associate Historian, U.S. Senate Historical Office
This workshop featured a lecture about the role that activists, members of Congress and President Johnson played in the final passage of this historic bill. Teachers used photos of the event to explore artifact contemplation as a classroom technique. In addition, participants visited the President’s Room where the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed.
American symbols found in art in the U.S. Capitol
Speaker: Dr. Michele Cohen, Assistant Curator, Architect of the Capitol
This workshop used an interdisciplinary approach to examine public art found in the U.S. Capitol. The workshop included a lecture, a tour of the Capitol, and an opportunity to share curriculum ideas with colleagues.
Congressional Investigations: Origins, Practice and Highlights
Speakers: Dr. Betty Koed, Historian for the U.S. Senate and Director of the U.S. Senate Historical Office Dr. Matt Wasniewski, Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Historian
This workshop focused on the congressional power to investigate, an important element of our constitutional system of checks and balances. Teachers had an opportunity to work with primary sources and visit the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Civil Rights Legislation: The Failed Civil Rights Act of 1875 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Speakers: Laura O’Hara, Office of the Historian’s Senior Historical Web Editor, U.S. House of Representatives and Dr. Katherine Scott, Associate Historian, U.S. Senate Historical Office
This workshop focused on the continuum of Civil Rights legislation, most notably the failed Civil Rights Act of 1875 as a prelude to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Teachers worked with primary sources such as speeches made by members of Congress. In addition, they visited locations within the U.S. Capitol associated with civil rights legislation.
Majority Rule, Minority Rights: The Similarities and Differences between the House and the Senate
Speaker: Dr. Matt Field, Exhibits and Education Program Specialist, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
This workshop focused on the similarities and differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate: the different ways they function, what the Constitution says about each chamber, and how the institutions have changed over time. Teachers worked with primary sources including the Federalist Papers, the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Standing Rules of the Senate, and the Congressional Record. Following the workshop, teachers participated in an optional tour of the U.S. Capitol.
The Design and Construction of the U.S. Capitol
Speaker: Thomas Fontana, Director, Communications and Marketing, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
This workshop focused on the design and construction of the U.S. Capitol from 1793 to 1866. Teachers worked with primary sources including drawings of the Capitol, correspondence regarding the Capitol, and excerpts from the Annals of Congress and the Congressional Globe. Following the workshop, teachers participated in an optional tour of the U.S. Capitol.
Philip Reid, the Statue of Freedom, and the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act
Speakers: Dr. Barbara Wolanin, Curator, Architect of the Capitol, and Dr. Matthew Wasniewski, Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Historian
This workshop focused on the contributions of enslaved workers and freedmen in the building of the U.S. Capitol, and the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. Participants toured Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center to see the plaster model of the Statue of Freedom as well as view historic documents related to emancipation in Exhibition Hall.