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The Education Innovator
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 June 6, 2005 • Number 21
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Feature
Teaching American History Project: "Learn It! Live It! Love It!, Stratford, Oklahoma
What's New
The National Center for Education Statistics releases its 2005 Condition of Education report; the Office of Indian Education announces winners of its student art competition; Secretary Spellings describes proposed Teacher Incentive Fund; Assistant Deputy Secretary Rees participates in the CATO Institute policy forum on NCLB; English and Spanish overviews of school choice available on the U.S. Department of Education's webpage; Oklahoma state curriculum includes online Constitution-related materials; GPO offers Constitution and Declaration of Independence booklet; EdSource report finds positive results for California's charter schools; Reading Is Fundamental offers students incentives to read over the summer; report from the National Center for Education Information shows large enrollments in alternative routes to teacher certification programs; and Ball State University's School of Music and Biomechanics Lab creates new DVD.
Innovations in the News
Florida history teachers participate in an immersion program through a Teaching American History grant; plus information about charter schools, closing the achievement gap, and teacher quality.

Three Ls and Five Es Lead Oklahoma Teachers Down the Long Trail of American History
Outside their classroom windows, history teachers in Oklahoma see the past. There is the shadow of Spanish explorer Coronado searching for the "Lost City of Gold." There are cowboys tending their cattle ranches and riding bucking broncos at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. There is Fort Sill where Apache leader Geronimo is buried, and this is where Black soldiers first fought during the Civil War alongside white Union ranks at the Battle of Honey Springs.

The Choctaw Indian tribe named this land "okka" for people and "humma" for red. With the help of the Teaching American History: Learn It! Live It! Love It! project, teachers and students in Stratford Public Schools and three other Oklahoma school districts are learning to better understand and appreciate the people and history that lived on the plains near them through partnerships with museums, state parks, historic sites, and history scholars.

The Learn It! Live It! Love It!, or the L³ project, is a consortium that began in 2002 with four rural school districts: Allen Public Schools, Konawa Public Schools, Latta Public Schools, and Stratford Public Schools (the lead agency) in partnership with local museums and East Central University (ECU) in Ada, Oklahoma. The project was born out of a need to increase teachers' understanding of American history and to decrease the degree to which rural teachers experience professional isolation. Throughout the four school districts, only 13 people teach American history. To alleviate their isolation, the L³ project ties these teachers to each other and to high-quality professional development to increase the networking opportunities, pedagogical skills, and content knowledge of traditional American history.

The scope of the project extends beyond the small cluster of American history teachers in the consortium, however. The L³ Teaching American History project has had a major impact on the way teacher education is conducted at East Central University. Dr. Scott Barton, Chair of ECU's Department of History and Political Science, notes, "The project has created a long-term strategy for professional development that includes pre-service teachers and veteran teachers and valuable classroom experience. Because of the interactions facilitated through this learning community, we have re-examined and modified both pre-service education and our approach to professional development. " The university is planning on using this model to develop teacher professional development in other disciplines.

What does the professional development in the L³ project look like? The model framework includes: using primary sources to impart verisimilitude and enrich content knowledge; applying research-based practices; networking with scholars, master teachers, and professional colleagues; site visits; internships outside the classroom; and making use of community resources.

The L³ participants teach fifth, eighth, and tenth grade. These are the three grade levels when students take the state standardized tests for history. East Central University faculty members from various disciplines, including economics, history, and political science, provide professional development for the project and work with teachers to leverage local, regional, and state resources to improve history instruction and help students achieve high academic standards. Visiting professors from such schools as New York University broaden the teachers' history content exposure even further.

Teachers participate in professional development colloquia and institutes for 14 to 19 days throughout the academic year. L³ participants learn how to teach using research-based practices for history instruction from ECU faculty. For example, teachers are introduced to an approach called "the Five Es," which consists of engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation. Teachers learn that these five Es, or phases of instruction, allow students to link personal experiences with new concepts, to make connections between key events in history and the present, and to be thoroughly prepared for their state history tests.

During their professional development, teachers also discover how to align local curricula with Oklahoma state standards. For example, students in the eighth grade study the causes and results of the American Revolution, documents of the early Federal Period (such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), and America's westward expansion. The westward movement is highlighted in high school as well, where students follow the Cherokees' journey across the Missouri and Arkansas wilderness, now called "The Trail of Tears." Other topics include the Civil War and America's Industrial Revolution, which are part of Oklahoma's core curriculum for U.S. history at the high school level.

To add to their knowledge of these and other topics, and to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of traditional American history,L³ teachers visit sites where history occurred. Required summer sessions include visits around southeastern Oklahoma and surrounding regions that have shaped the history of the state and the nation as a whole. In 2004, participants traveled to Colorado and explored Bent's Old Fort National Historic site, which was home to the original fort built in 1833 as a trading area for Plains Indians and trappers and was the only major permanent white settlement on the Sante Fe Trail between Missouri and the Mexican settlements. Teachers also studied at nine museums, including the Koshare Indian Museum and Kiva (a partially underground room traditionally used for religious ceremonies) and the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center.

L³ extends its support for teachers' professional growth through internships at partnering museums such as the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Chickasaw Nation Museum, and the Seminole Nation Museum. During their internships, L³ teachers research primary source materials and other resources that inform their instruction in the classroom. Teachers work with museum curators and assist with projects including the development of permanent collections, artifact storage, and exhibit construction. For example, teachers might study the personal papers of Te Ata, a Chickasaw storyteller. Others might learn about the history of the original Chickasaw Council House in Tishomingo. This historic building dates back to the mid-1850s and is now home to the country's largest collection of Chickasaw artifacts. After becoming expert in the history of the Chickasaw and the Council House, L³ teacher interns might then lead exploratory sessions around the site. For their work, teachers receive stipends from the L³ project.

During the school year, L³ participants work with master teachers each week. Master teachers observe lessons, teach model lessons, and offer feedback on how well participants implement the information presented in colloquia and institutes. Master teachers provide participants with resources and encourage them to use the Center for the Advancement of American History Instruction at ECU, which provides access to primary source documents in kits organized by historical time period. The "Constitution and New Government Kit" contains photographs of James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, the White House, and the Capitol Building, and a portrait of John Jay. The packet also includes reproductions of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Monroe Doctrine, and an original plan for Washington, DC. The "Colonial Williamsburg:Hands-on History" kits of 18th century artifacts contain items such as a "soldier's haversack," the mess kit that every soldier was issued to carry in the field, which includes a drinking cup, food, and other items, such as playing cards. In addition to the history kits, participants have access to videos, multimedia CDs, and texts dedicated to history content and pedagogy.

L³ staff and master teachers conduct panel interviews and use a rubric to rate participants' use of primary sources, their incorporation of the five Es into their lessons, and their satisfaction with the project. Overall, the results have been positive, with participants reporting that the project has helped them make content engaging, interactive, and relevant for all students.

Student outcomes on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT) also have been encouraging. Students' scores on this test are divided into four categories: Advanced, Satisfactory, Limited Knowledge, and Unsatisfactory. Students scoring at the "Satisfactory" level or higher, whom L³ teachers taught, increased from 61.7 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2004. The number of students who scored in the "Advanced" range also increased from 3.10 percent to 18.65 percent.

In addition to the L³ program for the consortium teachers, in 2004 the project provided two colloquia for 55 pre-service American history teachers, and master teachers provided one-day workshops for 60 teachers in seven districts outside the L³ consortium. Also, project staff and participating teachers have presented at state, regional, and national meetings, including the OII Teaching American History Project Directors' meeting, the National Council for History Education, and the Southwestern Social Science Association.

American history is one of the core content areas in No Child Left Behind , and the American History: Learn It! Live It! Love It! project is funded through a grant awarded to the Stratford Public School district from the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History program in the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Resources: Note: The featured program is innovative and interesting; however, it does not yet have evidence of effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation and may not be replicable under differing conditions.

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What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

The National Center for Education Statistics released the 2005 Condition of Education , which contains indicators on teacher quality, private education, choice, and charter schools, among other education topics. (June 1)

The Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education has announced the winners of the "Our Goal, Our Path, Our People" Student Art Competition. The competition was open to American Indian and Alaskan Native students in kindergarten through twelfth grade and aimed at the importance of pursuing an education for Native students. (June 1)

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings describes the Teacher Incentive Fund in an audio news clip. President Bush's 2006 budget proposes the Teacher Incentive Fund, which is designed to more closely align teacher compensation systems with better teaching and higher student achievement. The fund would help boost the teaching profession by offering teachers a career ladder, enabling them to gain greater responsibility and more pay. (April 27)

From the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII)

Assistant Deputy Secretary Nina S. Rees was a panelist at the CATO Institute policy forum on "The Future of the No Child Left Behind Act," which was aired on C-SPAN. (May 31)

An overview of school choice under No Child Left Behind is now available on the U.S. Department of Education's website in both English and Spanish download files PDF, (31KB). (June 1)

American History

Constitution Day (September 17) is listed under the United States History and Civics and Government sections of the curriculum on the Oklahoma State Department of Education website. The website links to the National Archives Digital Classroom, which offers "Observing Constitution Day" as a resource. (June 1)

One resource to help prepare for Constitution Day is the Government Printing Office, which offers booklets with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence for $2.75. In addition to the text of these documents, the publication contains an index to the Constitution and its amendments and a chronology of historic dates. (June 1)

Charter Schools

According to a new report from EdSource California's charter schools are 33 percent more likely to meet their academic goals than traditional public schools. Charter middle schools yielded positive results with 81 percent meeting the goals set by the state for student improvement, as compared to 54 percent for traditional schools. (June 6)

Reading

OII-funded Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) invites children "to make summer reading a sweet treat" by offering interactive literacy ideas and resources to encourage children to read during their summer break from school. RIF also has a reading challenge contest where kids aged five through 15 can track the number of hours they spend reading throughout the month of July in order to be eligible for special incentives. (June 1)

Teacher Quality

A new report by the National Center for Education Information shows that nearly one-third of newly certified teachers who entered the classroom for the first time this year did not graduate from education colleges but were certified through alternative routes. As of this year, 47 states and the District of Columbia offer at least one type of alternative route to teacher certification. (June 6)

Technology/Arts Education

Ball State University's School of Music and its Biomechanics Lab have created " Art of the Bow," a DVD that captures the bowing technique of bassist Francois Rabbath. Multiple camera angles and viewing options capture the subtle motions of Rabbath's fingers, hands, and arms in 3-D. (June 1)

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Innovations in the News

American History
Polk (FL) history teachers will participate in an immersion program, "Teaching American History with Florida Flavor," at historical sites and landmarks around the state during the second week of June. Teachers will use the knowledge and skills gained from the program to incorporate elements of Florida history into their lessons, linking state history to broader events affecting the nation. Polk schools were among six school districts in Florida that recently received Teaching American History grants from OII. [More-Newszap Florida] (June 1)

Recently, historian Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, spoke with history teachers from the Stratford Public Schools (CT) about freedom. The lecture was part of the district's three-year Teaching American History grant. Monthly visits by historians and summer institutes that focus on improving teachers' pedagogical skills are all part of the federal grant. [More-ZWire] (June 2)

Charter Schools
Officials from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are looking for proposals from groups interested in creating 10 to 15 new schools next year under Mayor Richard Daley's education reform plan, Renaissance 2010. The schools can take the form of charter, contract, or district-run institutions. The number of schools to open in 2006 under the initiative will depend on the quality of the proposals. Applications are due on August 19, 2005 and final recommendations will be submitted to the Board of Education in November. [More-Chicago Tribune]

Closing the Achievement Gap
Spurred by No Child Left Behind, educators across the nation are putting great effort into improving the achievement of minority students. In Boston, black and Hispanic students are seeing tutors for help in math. In Minnesota, American Indian students work on grammar and algebra. Releasing scores by students' race and ethnic group has made educators work harder to narrow the achievement gap. [More-New York Times] (May 27) [free registration]

Minnesota lawmakers have reached a consensus on replacing the eighth and tenth-grade Basic Skills Tests with the more rigorous Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), which will be given in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. The new exams will test students on a broader range of skills, balancing easier questions and more challenging questions. These comprehensive assessments already are given to students in grades three through seven and are used to determine the performance of schools and school districts. [More-Duluth News Tribune] (May 31)

A new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Policy Information Center details the Characteristics of Minority Students Who Excel on the SAT and in the Classroom. The report urges schools and communities to make sure that minority students have access to rigorous high school curricula and that students take full advantage of all learning opportunities. (June 6)

Teacher Quality
In an effort to boost teacher quality and prepare students for employment in the technology industry, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently announced a new program that aims to quadruple the number of newly credentialed math and science teachers coming out of the state's public universities by 2010. The "California Teach" program would provide teacher candidates with paid internships, place teacher candidates in the classroom beginning in their freshman year, and allow them to earn a bachelor's degree and prepare for certification in four years. [More-The Los Angeles Times] (June 1) [free registration]

An ambitious plan to produce thousands of new teachers through community colleges, and ease a potential teacher shortage, is developing in Florida. Education Commissioner John Winn recently gave 24 of the state's 28 community colleges a tentative approval to begin "educator preparation institutes." The institutes will function like teacher boot camps that will train college graduates to become public school teachers in one year. The first set of institutes is slated to open in the fall and their graduating classes will begin teaching next year. [More-St. Petersburg Times] (June 1)

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Last Modified: 08/13/2009