Books and Publications

“Writing a book is another form of teaching. It is reaching out to an audience using a different medium. Like teaching writing, the book presented the challenge of finding the right balance between rigorous structure and following my intuition.”


Eyewitness to the PastJoan’s passion for history education and her commitment to teacher training led her to write Eyewitness to the Past: Strategies for Teaching American History in Grades 5-9 (Stenhouse Publishers, 2007).

In this unique teacher resource, Joan reveals how compelling and engaging the study of history becomes when students use primary documents to imagine living through events in American history.

The book examines six types of primary sources: diaries, travelogues, letters, news articles, election speeches, and scrapbooks. Teachers will find interactive strategies to help students analyze the unique properties of each and then create their own written work and oral arguments.

Each chapter provides detailed instructions for implementing an eyewitness strategy set in a specific era of American history and includes ideas for adapting the strategy to other time periods.

Joan has presented workshops about her book, including “Re-enacting Past Elections  Using Primary Sources” and “Student-Created Scrapbooks of the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras.”
Reviews of Eyewitness to the Past:
Dr. Geoff Baker, Education Book Reviews
Michelle B. Ivy, Teacher Leaders Network
Michael Shaughnessy, Educationnews.org - interview

Other Publications

Twentieth Century World History Activators. Interact (forthcoming)

Advocating for Abolition: Staging an Abolitionist Society Meeting with Andy Robinson. Interact, 2010.

Editor of Coming to America: The Arabs. Greenhaven Press, 2005

Author of Immigrants in America: The Arab Americans, a book for school libraries, Lucent Press, 2004

Co-author of In a New Land: An Anthology of Immigrant Literature, National Textbook Company, 1994. A literary anthology for high school students with suggested writing activities and a Teacher’s Manual. (Now published by McGraw Hill)

Curriculum Materials

Curriculum Contributor, Interweaving Cultures: Islam in Southeast Asia, A Guide for Teachers and Students. New York: Asia Society, 2007.

Activity Writer for The Idea of America, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 2008

Curriculum Writer, the Educator’s Guide for The War: A Ken Burn’s Film distributed to schools throughout the U.S. PBS & WETA, 2007.

Curriculum Writer, Educator’s Guide to the Ken Burns film Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, distributed to schools across America. PBS & WETA, 2005.

Contributing Author, The Constitution Community, National Archives and Records Administration.

Author of lessons for The Islam Project.org, including seven commissioned to accompany the film “Muslim American Teens Speak,” 2004.

Author of over 25 lessons for PBS Online including lessons for Ken Burn’s Jazz, The West, The Civil War, and for The American Experience, P.O.V. and other programs. 2000 -

“Alexander Graham Bell’s Patent for the Telephone and Thomas Edison’s Patent for the Electric Lamp,” in Our Documents: A National Initiative on American History, Civics, and Service. National History Day, 2003.

Creator of the series American Letters, Interact Publications, 1986. Author of American Letters 1913-1929 and American Letters 1930-1945. (Co-author of the remaining 3 booklets covering 20th century American history.)

Journal Articles

“Sarah, Plain and Tall” in Teaching Reading with the Social Studies Standards, National Council for the Social Studies Annual Bulletin, 2012.

“Advocating for Abolition: Staging an Abolitionist Society Meeting” with Andy Robinson. Social Education (National Council for the Social Studies) Vol. 74 No. 4 (September 2010).

“Puritan Day: A Social Science Simulation.” Social Education Vol. 71. No.7 (November/December, 2007)

For Perspectives: The Newsletter of the Middle East Outreach Council:  “The Jasmine Revolution: Analyzing Revolutionary Movements in the Classroom,” Fall 2011 “U.S. Refugee Policy and the Middle East: A Simulation” Fall 2010 “Teaching about Religious Phobia in the United States,” Spring 2010. “People and the Land in Iran: A Lesson in Human Geography,” Spring 2008 among other lessons published in Perspectives: The Newsletter of the Middle East Outreach Council.

“The Baghdad that Was: Using Primary Sources to Teach World History.” Social Education (National Council for the Social Studies) Vol. 73 No. 1 (January/February 2009).

“Sindbad the Sailor and the Eastward Journey of Islam.” Education About Asia (Association for Asian Studies). Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2005).

“Trade, Travel and Scholarship in Dar al Islam: A Simulation Activity.” Social Education
(National Council for the Social Studies) Vol. 66 (Nov.-Dec. 2002).

“We Are Living History: Reflections of a New York City Social Studies Teacher.” Social Education
Vol. 65 (October 2001).

“Learning Across Cultures: From New York City to Rotorua” with Claire Schnell. Social Education
Vol. 63 (March 1999).

“Teaching about the Irish Famine in New Zealand and the USA” with Claire Schnell. The New Zealand Journal of Social Studies Vol. 7 (June 1999).

“From Fiction to Field Notes: Observing Ibo Culture in Things Fall Apart.” Social Education
Vol. 61 (Nov/Dec 1997).

“The Literature of Immigration and the Lives of Adolescents: Finding Common Ground.” Language Arts Journal of Michigan Vol. 12 (Spring 1996).

“Students as Social Science Researchers: Gender Issues in the Classroom.” Social Education
Vol. 59 (March, 1995).

“No Taxation Without Representation: A Simulation Activity.” Social Education Vol. 56 (January 1992).

“Updating the Issues in ‘Julius Caesar.’” Notes Plus (National Council of Teachers of English)
March 1992.

“A Recommendation for Tom Sawyer.” Notes Plus (December 1991).

“Students as Newspaper Reporters During the Civil War.” Social Education Vol. 53 (January 1989).

“Letter Exchanges: Living Through the Past in a Fictional Correspondence.” Social Education
Vol. 48 (April 1984).

“Question Charts and Interconnection Charts.” Social Education Vol. 45 (April 1981).

“Helping Students to Visualize What They Read.” English Journal Vol. 69 (February 1980).

“History Comes Alive: A Hypothetical Election Debate.” The Social Studies Vol. 69
(July/August 1978).

“Maps and Graphs: ‘The Total is More Than the Sum of its Parts.’” New England Social Studies Bulletin Vol. 34 (Winter 1976-77).