Teaching American History

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Alabama 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Jefferson County Board of Education, AL
Project Name:Jefferson County Teaching American History Program
Project Director:Martha V. Bouyer
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:37,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the University of Alabama (Birmingham), the University of Montevallo, Samford University, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Alabama Civil Rights Institute, the American Village, the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Technology in Motion, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the National Geographic Society
Topics:the colonial era, the American Revolution, technology, and civil rights
Methods:workshops, field trips, classroom observations and support, Internet activities, and Saturday content-specific classes

As evidenced by low test scores, many Jefferson County students are not receiving high-quality instruction in American history due greatly in part to a lack of teacher content knowledge. Due to the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and determination to provide a high-quality education to all students, the district will provide teachers with the content knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the classroom. Each year the project will provide a different cohort of 30 primary, middle, and high school teachers 216 hours of graduate level American history instruction and pedagogical training as well as additional direct observation and instruction in their classrooms by the project director. Each year participants will read twelve historical texts, study other important documents, and develop instructional units and other resources for classroom use. To further enhance their study of American history, teachers will also participate in three experiential field studies.

Grantee Name:Montgomery Public Schools, AL
Project Name:Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks Liberty Fellowship
Project Director:Gloria S. Odutola
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:33,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the University of Southern Mississippi, Old Alabama Town, Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson, the American Institute for History Education, and the Bill of Rights Institute
Topics:year 1: the Empire versus the Colonies, year 2: the Agrarian South versus the Industrializing North, and year 3: Liberal Democracy versus Totalitarianism
Methods:colloquia, field trips, summer institutes, CDs, and web bulletin boards

Seventy-seven percent of district students are minorities, and more than 75% are African-American. At least 66% of students qualify for free/reduced lunches. Eighty percent of the schools receive Title I funds. The majority of students in grades 3-12 failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in math and reading in 2004-05. This project will enable teachers to write classroom-appropriate lessons and make salient connections with earlier historical precedents. They will infuse their lessons into a larger Weblessons™ program and augment the colloquia-based lessons they receive throughout the project period. To accomplish this, teachers will participate in six seasonal colloquia, a field trip series, and three summer institutes. Teachers will also take part in a turnkey replication program to train other teachers in their district, and they will be provided with three annual, interactive CD-ROMs covering the material learned in the professional development sessions.

Grantee Name:Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, AL
Project Name:Making a Nation: Laying Claim to Democracy
Project Director:Jolene Stanford
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:2
Number of Students Served:3,000
Grade Levels:4-12
Partners:the University of Alabama, the Alabama Consortium of Educational Renewal, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, History Alive!, and the University of Alabama and Henry Ford Museums
Topics:the American Revolution, the Era of Expansion, the Civil War, the World Wars, the Great Depression, the New Deal, industrialization and urbanization, and the influences of intellectual and religious thought on the U.S. political system
Methods:graduate-level summer institutes, field studies, workshops, coaching, and distribution of content materials and resources

At present, less than half of the schools in the two districts would meet the proficiency standards set for the 2006-07 academic year. Currently six of the nine high schools have a failure rate of 20% or more on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam social studies section, which primarily covers U.S. history. The failure rate on the Advanced Placement exam in U.S. history ranges from to 39-100% in the two districts. The project will use a five-pronged approach of intensive summer institutes at the graduate level, scholar-led field studies, team study/peer coaching during the academic year, single day content-oriented workshops, and an infusion of content materials and resources to increase teacher content knowledge and student learning of American history. This collaboration will 1) provide teachers in grades 4-12 with multiple avenues to develop and strengthen their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history as a separate subject in the core curriculum and 2) develop the historical literacy of students so that they can comprehend informational and functional textual material including primary sources and analyze and interpret historical data presented in charts, tables and graphs.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006