The title of this blog comes from a sports related analogy. Much like basketball players who hang around a gym all the time are called gym rats, my entire life has been spent hanging around history. Whether it be books, educational films, board games, toy soldiers, or historical sites, I am a history rat.

My credentials -

I teach 8th grade US history in a small town in northern Illinois and have done so for almost 20 years at my current school. My students participate in the History Fair (National History Day) program yearly. I feel it is  a worthy program for all students as they learn how to investigate history hands-on.  I try to design lessons that use a variety of primary sources and make students think about using evidence to establish a point of view or to examine multiple points of view about an event or person in history.

I designed a teaching model using primary documents which I have spoken about at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference as well as the Illinois Council for the Social Studies and Northern Illinois University.

In July 2012, I completed my doctoral dissertation about how students search for and evaluate online primary sources for use in their history fair projects.

The summer of 2014 will find me spending most of my days in Geneva watching the Kane County Cougars and writing for my other blog: http://cubdom.wordpress.com/.

To contact me, send me an email at historyrat@yahoo.com

This is my buddy Zeus, my nine year old terrier.

10 thoughts on “About

    knowledgetoday said:
    March 30, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I love your site. Keep it up !

    JoAnn Major said:
    September 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Mary Kay L. said:
    December 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    That Zeus. He’s so dang smart.

    Anonymous said:
    June 17, 2011 at 9:03 am

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    Anonymous said:
    October 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    This site is fantastic I wish I knew the publishing city this site is great for projects

    Julia said:
    December 8, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I found this page due to your article on Chris Whitley…very nice…

    Shelley McGuire said:
    May 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Gosh, this is fantastic. Being a fellow history buff and someone you graduated with…I had no idea you turned out to be such an insightful guy. Keep it up! I bookmarked your blog!

    R.T. Johnson responded:
    May 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks, Shelley!

    Mark Larson said:
    June 27, 2013 at 11:32 am

    My writing partner Bob Boone and I have been working on a new creative writing/history textbook, based on 40 events in Chicago history, entitled WRITE THROUGH CHICAGO. Amika Press (http://www.amikapress.com) plans to publish the book upon completion, hopefully as early as September 2013. Each of our units includes a photo, but we’ve been having trouble finding anything in the public domain for DISCO DEMOLITION NIGHT. Our search led us to the pictures on your website. Can you help us contact whomever has the copyrights to any of the Disco Demolition Night pics? We’d just need one.

    I see that you’re an 8th grade teacher in the northern Illinois area. Bob and I both live in Lake County. Maybe you’d be interested in having us visit your class sometime and conducting some history based creative writing activities?

    Although I didn’t attend the event, I was only a few weeks into my career, teaching summer school at Highland Park High School to kids who had flunked English during the year. A number of my students were at Comiskey that night.

    Mark H. Larson

    R.T. Johnson responded:
    June 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    The Tribune has a nice collection online and in the proquest historical newspaper catalog. Good luck!

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