Due to a busy week, Tuesday we immersed ourselves fully into the EFT. First we watched the broadcast. Even though this EFT could have been loaded with impending doom, it was interlaced with humor. We watched impatient John Adams become increasingly disgruntled as he attemped to walk the streets of Philadelphia. Instead he was continually hindered by townspeople who wanted to voice their opinions to him, some in favor of the Declaration of Independence and others not. Then we watched Benjamin Franklin, full of whitty remarks, be accused by a loyalist, nearly run over by a carriage and then accosted by 2 patriotic supporters. Finally we viewed the calm, cool and collected Edward Rutledge politely deal with those who felt led to offer him free advice. One lady tried to concern him about his precarious position, claiming that he could be captured (which was true). He calmly, yet slyly,rebutted, "But they have to catch me first."
We also met British Admiral Lord Howe, who tried to take advantage of the lowered moral of the patriotic cause, due to Washington's retreat from Long Island. Lord Howe was determined to convince the patriots to surrender. He met with Adams, Franklin and Rutledge, trying to talk them into renouncing the Declaration of Independence. Unwilling to yield, they walked out of the meeting. As the delegates fled the Philadelphia State House, Rutledge read the inspiring words of Thomas Paine's Common Sense:
"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value."
In essence, we remember these men today as Founders. Had the war been lost, they would have gone down in history as traitors to the British Crown. This theme ran throughout the EFT video, lessons and activities. After viewing the video and question and answer segment from a few years ago, we read through the lesson pages provided for the teachers, to get background information. Then we went through the activities.
The first one was pretty interesting. We had cards of different people who actually lived during the American Revolution. For the ones my kids would know, like Abigail Adams and Samuel Adams, I read them aloud, allowing them to guess who it was. Then they placed them under the correct category: Patriot or Loyalist. The rest I divided between my kids to read aloud and place in the category they thought it would go. After that we read follow-up cards which told us "the rest of the story". One I found interesting was a slave woman who was so large and strong, she brought her basket of dirty clothes to the jail where the British were holding her patriot master. He hid in the basket and she carried him out in it, without getting caught by the guards! So what do you think she was? Patriot or Loyalist?
Then we analyzed primary souce documents, a collection of prints, political cartoons, poetry and essays, to determine of they were patriotic or loyalist in nature.
After that, my kids went to their computers to do the on-line vote, participate in the message board with CW historians, and play the two computer games. They said in the one game, they were *forced* to turn in patriots to Lord Howe, something they didn't want to do! My daughter also got to e-mail John Adams! She wanted to know what inspired him to be a lawyer. My son didn't have any questions.
On EFT live broadcast day, we happened to be in Colonial Williamsburg for a special program (unrelated) later that afternoon. We got to view the broadcast at Bruton Heights with some of the CW actors! That was fun to hear their reactions to the movie. As we watched the EFT, we also watched the question and answer segment with Benjamin Franklin, Lord Howe and a 21st century historian. Benjamin Franklin answered all the questions as if the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Founders. Lord Howe answered all the questions as if these men were traitors. The 21st century historian constantly reminded us that those indeed were the two viewpoints during the war.
After the broadcast, we got to take a tour behind the scenes. Our first stop was the broadcast studio. On the way in, we got to see Benjamin Franklin, Lord Howe and the 21st century historian! We actually got to meet the actor who portrayed Benjamin Franklin (as a different character) last winter. I waved to him as we walked in and he followed us in to say hi! He remembered my kids! Also one of the executive producers came in to say hi to the kids, because he remembered they were the first EFT Skypers! The tour guide even remembered the kids!
After a tour of the studios, we went upstairs to meet "John Adams"...all of them behind their computer monitors answering a million e-mails from EFT students across the nation! We got to peek at some of the questions and answers and chat with a few "John Adams". They do a lot of research in preparation for "the part" on broadcast day, so that they can answer the questions "in character." I asked if they were so in character, that they felt catankerous like the original John Adams and they said they were. Actually I thought they were all nice and their e-mail answers looked spot on to me!
Where else can we bring history to life but through a Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip coming to our homeschools, made available to us through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op? At the end of the broadcast that day, we got to see the preview of the next EFT: The Amazing Trade Shop Science Race starring Professor Eddie! Professor Eddie happened to be sitting behind us and he and his friends were all laughing to see his amazing antics in the preview, even flying through the skies like Superman! It will be a great way to let the kids combine science with 18th century architectural history, through the building of the historic Charleton Coffeehouse. See you there!