Letter to Teachers

In the fall of 2009, a two-day international symposium—Henry Hudson, New Netherland, and Atlantic History—was held at the State University of New York, College at New Paltz. Fourteen historians and scholars from the United States and other countries made presentations in recognition of the Quadricentennial Henry Hudson voyage in 1609. The information shared was important, interesting and extensive.

SUNY New Paltz, in particular the Center for Research, Regional Education & Outreach (CRREO), supports the sharing of this information with educators in the Hudson River Valley. To enhance the practical value of the information and its accessibility for secondary-level social studies teachers, we were asked to develop a Unit Plan inspired by and utilizing information from the Symposium presentations.

Some of the major questions that the scholars focused on were related to diversity and tolerance: Were the Dutch really so tolerant, as Russell Shorto contends in his recent book The Island at the Center of the World? What was the nature of relations among Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans? Why and how did they change? How diverse were the American Colonies? How inclusive was America? Did this diversity lead to tolerance or intolerance? Our Unit Plan about Diversity and Tolerance in the American Colonies relies on information from the Symposium presentations to teach and learn essential secondary social studies content and skills. The Unit Plan can be used in 7th Grade Social Studies and/or Advanced Placement American history classes.

In the development of this curriculum, we:

  • Reviewed all the presentations made at the Symposium.
  • Identified topics from each of the presentations that are relevant to the teaching and learning of essential secondary social studies content and skills.
  • Created brief summaries of presentations, focusing on information pertinent to secondary social studies teaching.
  • Designed a Unit Plan, Diversity and Tolerance in American Colonies. This Unit Plan consists of three parts, which can function as a unit or can each be taught as a series of lessons on their own.

Special thanks to Gerald Benjamin, CRREO Director and Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement, and Helise Winters, Deputy Director of Administration for CRREO, for their support, guidance and help with this curriculum development project.

Dr. Laura J. Dull
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Secondary Social Studies Program at SUNY New Paltz

Maryann Fallek
Retired High School Social Studies Teacher and Adjunct Instructor in Secondary Education at SUNY New Paltz