Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 24
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A * ' A *~~~~
Exploring East Texas Through TIDES
By John Dryden
In September of 2002, with the
help of state and national grants, the
Ralph W. Steen Library at Stephen F.
Austin State University founded the
Teaching, Images, and Digital Experiences
(or TIDES) program, the first
collaborative digital initiative in East
Texas. With a focus originally on the
humanities, TIDES has morphed into
a series of partnerships with libraries,
museums, archives, and zoos that
now offers more than 17,000 primary
sources, K-12 lesson plans, and "vir
tual expeditions" to places around
Texas and Mexico.
"By seeking and responding to input
from educators, the program has
now expanded to serve as a framework
for learning communities in
public schools, colleges, archives,
libraries and museums," explained
Rachel Galan, associate director for
library services at SFA and program
director for TIDES.
ravestone rubbings combine art "The purpose of the original Texas
nd Texas history and help fill TIDES project was to make the huhe
gaps left by budget cuts. manities collections of East Texas
accessible; link the expertise of museum,
library, and archive professionals with the needs of educators;
create a web portal designed by 4th and 7th grade Texas
history teachers; and provide cultural and chronological access to
the material that tells the story of eastern Texas." [Editor's note:
Texas history is required teaching in the 4th and 7th grade social
The award-winning TIDES program has also recently added a science
component and bilingual content into the mix and now serves
not only as the regional center for the imaging of East Texas humanities
collections, but also as a model for testing and implementation
for K-12 teachers and students. Every lesson plan, from social studies
to the sciences, relates the objectives back to concrete examples
and sections of the TEKS test, Texas's mandatory assessment test for
"The development of the TIDES initiatives is based on the needs
of our primary audiences: K-12 students and teachers; libraries, archives,
and museums; and college faculty and students," described
Galan. "Stakeholders expressed specific needs, such as the preservation
of digital assets, the need to turn textbook curriculum into
neighborhood curriculum, and concerns regarding the recruitment
and retention of students. Many of the needs are common among
all targeted audiences."
Those needs included elements such as connecting audiences with
the digital world, increasing college preparedness, removing traditional
research barriers of time and location, and bridging the divides
between the diverse ethnic groups of East Texas. TIDES has attempted
to broaden the cultural perspectives of its students by incorporating
different histories and view points from its large African, Latino,
and Filipino populations. One key to the program's success has been
the "virtual tours" section. Students and teachers hemmed-in by limited
budgets and strict testing dates can study other cultures through
pictures, videos, and histories about various areas of Mexico, and in
the future, additional countries.
"The opportunity to experience relevant cultures first-hand is crucial
to helping area teachers understand the needs of their diverse
student community," said Galan. "The TIDES program transforms
mandated textbook curriculum into neighborhood curriculum
by involving teachers in first-hand experiences with cultures
relevant to their student population. This provides them with a
venue to collaborate within a diverse learning community and
enables them to create lessons and virtual expeditions for use in
The TIDES program has also helped fill in the gaps left by dwindling
art programs in local schools. By combining art with traditional
areas of study, such as Texas history, the schools have been
able to integrate a fine arts component into the curriculum. One
example is the unit about textured art, studied through hands-on
gravestone rubbings. The lesson plan includes discussions on
color and texture in art, incorporates TEKS testing suggestions.
and expands knowledge of local history through field trips to historical
"In the future we hope to continue the expansion and enhancement
of the TIDES program by closing the gaps in student success
and achievement that exists at all levels, from pre-school through
college," explained Galan.
Access the TIDES site at http://tides.sfasu.edu.
HERITAGE I Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/24/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.