Rhode Island College, Office of College Communications and Marketing, News Release


CONTACT: Gita Brown, 401-456-8465, gbrown@ric.edu
                      Laura Hart, 401-456-8977, lhart@ric.edu


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Cranston teachers and 120 of their students at Hugh B. Bain Middle School will receive the first pilot tour of the new Independence Trail Providence for teachers on Monday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Designed by Rhode Island College Secondary Education Professor Whitney Blankenship in collaboration with tour founder Robert Burke, this customized version of the trail is targeted for educators as a teaching tool.

Blankenship customized the tour to focus on specific historical topics or periods. The June 9 tour focuses on Rhode Island’s founding and early colonial period. She also shortened the original three-mile trek from 50 stops to 10 in order to fit the tour within the limited time teachers have for field trips.

To keep students engaged, Blankenship modified the self-guided tour to include a real-life guide dressed in period costume. She also made the tour interactive with experiential activities. For instance, the guide will be dressed as the hangman of John Gordon, the last person executed in Rhode Island. When the students arrive at the State House, the hangman will wrap his rope around the clapper of Liberty Bell and allow the children to ring it. And at Market Square students will re-enact the Rhode Island Tea Party and its protest against taxation without representation.

For further study, Blankenship created an educational resource site on the Independent Trail website that includes an educator’s guide to the trail, an interactive map of stops along the trail, videos about each stop, links to additional resources, and a Wiki where teachers can find and/or contribute lesson plans created around trail stops and where student projects related to the trail can be posted.

“By presenting this pilot, we hope to gain valuable feedback that will help us further shape the tour to the needs of participating teachers,” said Blankenship.

Burke expressed gratitude for the work done by Rhode Island College in helping to tie this historical information to curriculum. He said, “The team from Rhode Island College, led by President Nancy Carriuolo and team leader Whitney Blankenship, has made an unimaginable contribution to creating a lasting educational resource.”

For photos, maps and more information, visit independencetrails.com.

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 graduate and undergraduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, the School of Management and the School of Nursing. For more information, visit www.ric.edu.

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