Summer 2020 NEH Landmarks of American History Workshop

Landmarks of American History and Culture: Workshops for School Teachers
Making Meaning of May 4th: The 1970 Kent State Shootings in U.S. History

Daily Schedule

Sessions are inquiry- and discussion-based and engage workshop participants as active and invested learners. Selected readings from the workshop bibliography will be assigned or recommended for each activity below. After accepting your offer to join the workshop as a Landmark Scholar, you’ll be sent hard copies of or links to required readings for the workshop sessions. Among these resources, you’ll receive two books: This We Know: A Chronology of the Shootings at Kent State, May 1970, by Carole A. Barbato, Laura L. Davis, and Mark F. Seeman (Kent State University Press) and Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties, by Thomas M. Grace (University of Massachusetts–Amherst Press).

Workshop resources prepare you to come to each session ready to engage with each other and with faculty, staff, and guest speakers on session topics. Click on the Project Team tab to read about the fantastic group of May 4 experts, witnesses, and teachers with whom you’ll engage each day in deep and inquiring discussions. You’ll have guidance and time each day to work on your own teaching project to take back to your school.

We can’t wait to meet you!

Sunday Evening: Day 1

Theme: Introductions and Building Historical Understanding


  • Welcome and workshop goals and activities, over a light supper
  • Overview and lively group discussion of May 4 in the context of the 1960s

Monday: Day 2

Theme: Historical Landmark Site and Story

Guiding Question: What is the meaning of May 4 for today?

Activities: • Guided tour of the National Historic Landmark May 4 site by May 4 expert Alan Canfora, a surviving casualty of the shootings

  • “From the Boston Massacre to May 4, 1970,” presentation by May 4 scholars Laura Davis, a witness to the shootings, and Mark Seeman
  • “May 4 and Inquiry Pedagogy,” by Todd Hawley, professor of social studies teacher education.
  • Tour the award-winning May 4 Visitors Center museum

Tuesday: Day 3

Theme: “The Times They Are a-Changin’ ”

Guiding Question: In what ways did young people make a difference in the sixties?


  • Department of Pan-African faculty members Mwatabu Okantah, Kabir Syed, and Shannon Christen-Syed, guide teachers on a tour of 1960–1975
  • Coffee break browsing of Oscar Ritchie Hall, named in honor of Ohio’s first African American professor at a predominantly white university and featuring archival murals relating key moments in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Conversation with J. Ronald Snyder, Ohio National Guard captain on site May 4

Wednesday: Day 4

Theme: Cultural Consciousness and “Kent State”

Guiding Question: In how many ways were the long sixties a time of deep divides?

Activities: • Social divides and new cultures from multiple viewpoints: social science, media, music, literature, arts, with Lori Boes, assistant director of the May 4 Visitors Center, and others

  • Revisit the May 4 Visitors Center
  • Visit the Library’s commemorative May 4 Reading Room
  • Meet Archives head Cara Gilgenbach for a session on accessing 50,000+ digital May 4 resources

Thursday: Day 5

Theme: Student Activism, Then and Now

Guiding Question: What is activism? What does it look like today?


  • View and discuss Daniel Miller’s film Fire in the Heartland, a documentary of student activism at Kent State and the May 4 shootings
  • Witness Chic Canfora and Alan Canfora and Tom Grace, both surviving casualties of the May 4 shootings, discuss their experience as activists from 1968 through today
  • “Downtown Kent: Then and Now” walking tour and gathering for dinner

Friday: Day 6

Theme: May 4, 1970, and the First Amendment

Guiding Question: Shall we carry forward the story of May 4?


  • A landmark case about school journalists’ free press rights is examined by Mark Goodman, Knight chair in scholastic journalism.
  • Reflection on the First Amendment as a foundation of America’s participatory democracy
  • Final daily teaching project workshop, guided Annette Kratcoski, who oversees research and outreach related to K–12 curriculum, and others
  • Landmark Scholars share their projects with the whole and know that they are now ambassadors for sharing the May 4 history, which shines a light on working toward positive social change