In July, Humanities Texas will offer online teacher professional development programs for Texas social studies and English language arts teachers. Programs include "Taylor Swift in the Literature Classroom" (July 8), "Teaching the Spanish Colonial and Mexican National Periods in Texas History" (July 9–11), "Making the Good Reader and Citizen: The History of Literature Instruction in American Schools" (July 10–11), "Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Through Music" (July 15), and "Introducing New American History" (July 16–17).

All programs will emphasize close interaction with scholars, the examination of primary sources and texts, and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities.

Taylor Swift in the Literature Classroom (Webinar)

"Taylor Swift in the Literature Classroom" will take place over Zoom from 10:00–11:30 a.m. CT on Monday, July 8.

This program for English language arts teachers will compare the work of one of today's most recognizable songwriters and performers, Taylor Swift, to commonly taught poetic texts and traditions (lyric, dramatic, and narrative) in the secondary-level curriculum. The program will provide strategies for finding ways to engage middle and high school students by showing how this pop-music icon uses traditional genres, motifs, and figures found in literary texts that seem remote from hers. Participants will also investigate the ways in which she uses fairly familiar middle and high school texts as the basis or reference point for some of her writing. Elizabeth Scala of The University of Texas at Austin will lead the webinar.

Teaching the Spanish Colonial and Mexican National Periods in Texas History (Webinar Series)

"Teaching the Spanish Colonial and Mexican National Periods in Texas History" will take place over Zoom from 1:00–3:00 p.m. CT on July 9, 10, and 11.

This three-part series will offer teachers new windows into the transformations that both Spain and Mexico brought to Texas and provide a collection of curriculum materials bringing innovative perspectives into the classroom. Taught by historian Andrew Torget (University of North Texas) and master teacher Courtney Abubakar, this series will explore how the spectacular rise and fall of Spain in Texas created endemic problems that Mexico simply could not escape, setting the stage for the United States's colonization of Texas and a transformation of the region during the 1820s.

Making the Good Reader and Citizen: The History of Literature Instruction in American Schools (Webinar Series)

"Making the Good Reader and Citizen: The History of Literature Instruction in American Schools" will take place over Zoom from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday and Thursday, July 10 and 11.

This two-part series will investigate the history of secondary-school literature instruction in the twentieth century and educators’ and school reformers’ changing conceptions of what constitutes a "good reader." The sessions will explore how our current moment fits into a longer history of thinking about literature, society, and teaching. In investigating competing conceptions of the civic role of literature instruction in creating "good readers," participants will investigate: 1) how historical events have compelled the fluctuations; 2) the role assessment has played; and 3) the impact of technologies of literature instruction on enacting and challenging these conceptions (including high school canon and teachers' lesson plans). In developing a richer, deeper understanding of literary studies and our profession, the program will help teachers serve as stronger leaders in their schools and more effective and creative practitioners in their classrooms. Jonna Perrillo (The University of Texas at El Paso), Audrey Brimberry (Waco ISD), and Vanessa Sanders (El Paso ISD) will lead the webinar series.

Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Through Music (Webinar)

"Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Through Music" will take place over Zoom from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. CT on Monday, July 15.

This program will explore the central role music played during the civil rights movement and highlight music as a powerful way to teach the movement and its legacies to students of any age. The webinar will provide practical and engaging ways teachers can use music—from "freedom songs" to soul music and beyond—to illustrate and explore many facets of the civil rights movement. Featuring legends like Aretha Franklin and contemporary figures like Beyoncé, the webinar will consider the deep relationship between the sound and the struggles. Charles Hughes, director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College, will lead the webinar.

Introducing New American History (Webinar Series)

"Introducing New American History" will take place over Zoom from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 16 and 17.

This two-part series will introduce teachers to New American History, a digital history project with extensive resources for teachers and students. New American History’s learning resources are designed primarily for middle- and high-school social studies teachers interested in harnessing the power of digital media, curiosity, and inquiry in their classrooms. Correlated with national standards and informed by inquiry-based pedagogy, New American History resources can help teachers uncover new ways to teach the past in light of the present.

Edward L. Ayers (executive director, New American History; University Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus, University of Richmond) and Annie Evans (director of education, New American History) will lead the webinar series.

More information about each program is available in the Education section of the Humanities Texas website. Teachers interested in attending should complete the online application form as soon as possible.

Please note that, due to space limitations, you must be a registered participant to attend any of the webinars.

Applicants to these programs will receive information about and access to each online session within that series and are encouraged but not required to attend every session.

Participants will receive CPE credit and a wealth of curricular materials. CPE hours will be based on Zoom attendance and adjusted if a participant misses any portion of the program. Registration for the secondary-level program series will remain open even after each series has already begun.

These programs are made possible with support from the State of Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mission Espada in San Antonio. Photo by Witold Skrypczak / Alamy Stock Photo.
Portrait of Taylor Swift. Photo by Doug Peters / Alamy Stock Photo.
Third edition cover of Understanding Poetry.
Aretha Franklin in Billboard magazine, February 17, 1968.