Teaching American History

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California 2006 Grant Abstracts

Grantee Name:Alameda County Office of Education, CA
Project Name:Words that Made America 2 (WTMA2)
Project Director:Hector Garcia
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:5
Number of Students Served:23,000
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:California State University (East Bay) and the National Archives and Record Administration's (NARA) Pacific Region
Topics:historiography, Benjamin Franklin, various political, economic, and socio-cultural issues, curriculum design and development, "competing paradigms" (e.g., division of wealth), and NARA's 100 Milestone Documents of American History
Methods:monthly after-school and release-day sessions, summer institutes, and website expansion

The participating school districts have not demonstrated high levels of performance in state assessments in history—over half of the students in three of the four districts fail to perform at the "proficient" level. Districts with the highest level of Hispanic and African-American students and English language learners have the lowest levels in history performance. WTMA2 builds on a previous program that brought professional development activities to elementary school teachers of American history. This project will develop teacher-mentors who will take on leadership roles to advance the work of their colleagues who teach American history to diverse populations of students at risk for failure in school.

Grantee Name:Del Norte Unified School District, CA
Project Name:California/Oregon Teaching American History Program
Project Director:Steve J. Godla
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:35
Number of Students Served:27,000
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:Humboldt and Sonoma State Universities; the Del Norte, Coos, Curry, and Josephine County Historical Societies; the Siskiyou County Museum; the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; the White House Historical Association; the Center for Civic Education; and the National Archives - Pacific Region
Topics:(5th grade) Pre-Columbian settlement and cultures, colonial life, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the Constitution, and Lewis and Clark. (8th grade) the Pre-Revolutionary era, the American Revolution, the Constitution, Lewis and Clark, the antebellum West, antebellum reform movements, and Reconstruction. (11th grade) the Constitution, Reconstruction, the African-American experience, the Progressive Era, the Great Depression and World War II, and the Cold War
Methods:Saturday classes/workshops, Saturday museum workshop, website, video workshops, summer curriculum development institute, monthly newsletter, and field trips

The counties presented in this proposal suffer from chronic unemployment significantly higher than the national average due to the decline of the timber and fishing industries. Teachers in the region face geographic isolation (the nearest largest cities are five to eight hours away) and professional isolation, as they often are the only ones who teach American history at school. There are no four-year colleges of any kind in any of the five counties served by this project. A recent survey given to history teachers in the target area showed that they had taken fewer than two U.S. history classes while attending college. Each year 30 teachers will receive over 120 hours of instruction in American History from, scholars and historians including a two-week trip to historic sites on the east coast. In addition to the professor-led graduate courses, participants will teleconference with historians, read eleven historical texts, study other important documents, and develop lesson and other resources for classroom use.

Grantee Name:Elk Grove Unified School District, CA
Project Name:Founding Documents in American History: A Passport to Liberty
Project Director:David C. Byrd
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:62,000
Grade Levels:7-12
Partners:the American Institute for History Education and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Topics:the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Land Ordinances, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Bill of Rights, Washington's Farewell Address, the Missouri Compromise, the Monroe Doctrine, and Amendments 13-19 of the Constitution
Methods:colloquia, summer institutes, field trips, and formation of a district-wide historical learning community

Only 34% of the district's 8th grade students scored "proficient" or above in the most recent assessment, down 2% from 2003. The number of 11th grade students classified as "far below basic" has increased 7% over the last three years, while the number of students performing at the "basic" level has dropped five percent. Only 39% scored "proficient" or above in the most recent assessment. In addition, only 13.9% of the district's history teachers at the secondary level have a degree in history. The district will partner with two of America's most scholarly and well-respected educational service providers in the area of traditional American history: the American Institute for History Education and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Teachers will participate in a year-long professional development series that culminates with intensive on-site training in Washington, D.C. In-depth instruction will be followed with the formation of a district-wide historical learning community that will integrate the work of site-based learning community teams from each school site.

Grantee Name:Folsom-Cordova Unified School District, CA
Project Name:Every Teacher a Historian: Merging Content and Discipline in the American History Classroom
Project Director:Pamela Tindall
Number of Teachers Served:89
Number of School Districts Served:2
Number of Students Served:17,000
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:California State University (Sacramento), and the University of California (Davis)
Topics:"Reading, Thinking, and Writing in the American History Classroom," "The Civil War in American Memory," and "Landmarks of American History"
Methods:seminars, colloquia, summer institutes, book groups, coaching, showcases and other presentations, support sessions, and publication of lessons on the web

In 2005, only 38% of 8th, 10th, and 11th grade students in the two participating districts scored at or above the proficient level in state history/social science tests. Only 20% of economically disadvantaged students and 7% of English language learners reached the proficient level. This project's sustained discipline-specific training will equip U.S. history teachers in grades 5, 8, and 11 with a greater knowledge of our nation's history, a deep understanding of the discipline of history, and a vast toolbox of strategies. Trained teachers will be better prepared to engage their students in historical inquiry, lead them in the analysis of primary documents crucial to an appreciation and understanding of American history, and create the kind of memorable instruction critical for preparing all students to become tomorrow's citizens.

Grantee Name:Imperial County Office of Education, CA
Project Name:Imperial Teaching American History Project: the Course of Republicanism
Project Director:Linda Menville
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:17
Number of Students Served:32,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the Pioneer, Railroad, Purisma, and Allensworth Town Museums, San Diego State University (Imperial), and Imperial Valley Community College
Topics:republicanism as a value system and qualities found in Republicanism: liberty, civic virtue, service, sacrifice for the greater good, and anti-corruption
Methods:summer institutes, Saturday workshops, interactive websites, coaching, working with historians, and video conferences

In this very large, rural, isolated county, three of every four 11th grade students fall below the basic level on standardized tests in American history, a low percentage of teachers have a solid college foundation in American history, and almost no professional development in history is available. Many of the students' parents are farm workers, resulting in a seasonal unemployment rate of 17.4%. Teaching historical vocabulary will receive emphasis in the project, as English is not the language spoken at home for most students. The goal of the project is to increase learning outcomes among students in traditional American history taught as a separate subject through quality professional development of teachers. During the course of the project, 90 teachers will participate in two-week summer institutes (focusing on content and pedagogy) and Saturday workshops. In addition, teachers will receive coaching support and help in the establishment of a county-wide history education organization. History content will be studied through the organizing principle of "republicanism" and focusing on the themes of liberty, civic virtue, service, and sacrifice.

Grantee Name:Long Beach Unified School District, CA
Project Name:History in 4D: Documents, Deeds, Diversity, and Professional Development
Project Director:Linda A. Mehlbrech
Number of Teachers Served:100
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:95,483
Grade Levels:8, 11-12
Partners:National Archives Regional Office, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the History Channel, and California State University (Long Beach)
Topics:monthly seminars-(8th grade) creating a strong central government; problems confronting the new nation; and sectionalism and slavery, (11th grade) rise to world power; civil rights; and the Progressive Era to the New Deal, and (12th grade) creating a strong central government; rights and obligations under the Constitution; the Constitution as a living, flexible document
summer seminars-(8th grade) The Early republic and the Jacksonian era, (11th grade) Industrialization and urbanization in the late 1800's and the Cold War, and (12th grade) Foundations of American democracy and the Constitution in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Methods:visits to the National Archives and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; summer institutes, workshops, scholarly panels, monthly seminars, and classroom visits with scholars

As a result of this project, the district seeks to improve student test scores in American history, including internal benchmarks, state assessments, and national assessments. Internal and external evaluation, including sustained classroom observation and feedback and electronic submission of lesson plans, will trigger useful data to improve instruction in traditional American history. Of particular interest is the proposal to allow up to 15 teachers from low-performing schools who are not "highly qualified" to teach American history to earn a master's degree in history education from California State University (Long Beach). Teachers who want to improve their skills in historical interpretation and analysis through immersion in content, pedagogy, state standards, field experiences, history book clubs, summer institute, and monthly seminars will spend three years in intense study, research, and classroom teaching that will include on-site visits and feedback.

Grantee Name:Los Angeles Leadership Academy, CA
Project Name:Essential Learning: The History of America
Project Director:Robin Potchka
Number of Teachers Served:25
Number of School Districts Served:5 independent charter schools
Number of Students Served:2,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Loyola Marymount University, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the California African American History Museum
Topics:democracy, constitutional government, national identity, and citizenship
Methods:lectures, workshops, planning sessions, lesson/unit development, and field trips

In 2004, the state piloted its first California Standards Test (CST) in history and social science. Results showed that all schools in Los Angeles performed at a lower level than the state average. The picture was bleaker for Hispanic, English language learners, and African American students, who had the lowest rates of students performing at a proficient or advanced level. The project's target schools serve these exact populations-approximately 75% of students in the five schools are Hispanic and 19% are African American. The project's overall goal is to provide a meaningful, memorable thematic lens through which teachers can view the major ideas, people, and decisive moments in our nation's historic struggle to realize the ideals of our democracy. Focusing on historical inquiry and use of primary sources, teachers will study democracy, constitutional government, national identity, and citizenship. Project administrators hope to raise the schools' CST American history scores to "proficient" by 2009.

Grantee Name:Lynwood Unified School District, CA
Project Name:Forging a Nation: Individuals, Institutions, and Turning Points in U.S. History
Project Director:Chidi Onyia
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:15
Number of Students Served:10,000
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:California State University (Long Beach and Dominguez Hills) and the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy
Topics:the philosophical foundations of the American political system, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution, the Mexican-American War, the Missouri Compromise, and the Cold War
Methods:summer institutes, monthly seminars, field trips, workshops, mentoring, and the development of teacher-leaders

Located in Los Angeles County, Lynwood students are among the neediest in the nation. Over 70% live in poverty, nearly 46% are English language learners, and only 27% of 11th grade students passed the California exit exam in 2005. The professional development in this three-year plan will deepen and expand teachers' knowledge of history, develop their historical thinking, and improve their means of engaging their students in the study of American history. This project also aims to increase teachers' knowledge and understanding of discipline-specific instructional approaches to teaching history including literacy skills that are critically needed to access the content. Projected outcomes of the program include higher student achievement on state and district assessments of American history knowledge and on the AP U.S. history exam. Other outcomes include increased student achievement in history and in literacy at schools that did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards and deeper content knowledge for teachers who did not major in U.S. history.

Grantee Name:Mendocino County Office of Education, CA
Project Name:Mendocino/Lake/Northern Sonoma Counties TAH Project
Project Director:Jamey M. Gill
Number of Teachers Served:45
Number of School Districts Served:25
Number of Students Served:No Information Available
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:Sonoma State University, Grace Hudson Museum, and the Mendocino County Historical Association
Topics:year 1: Founding democratic principles, the roots of American founding principles, American principles in action, and California connections, year 2: Democratic institutions and California connections, and year 3: Emergence as a continental power, emergence as a global power, and California connections
Methods:summer institutes, field trips to local sites and to Washington, D.C., and a website

Many districts in the project have high rates of poverty and unemployment, as reflected in the percentage of students enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. The number of English Language Learner students doubled in the region between 1995 and 2000. The regional also has a large Native American population. This project will strengthen teachers' knowledge and skills by providing two orientation meetings, a two-week summer institute, four institute follow-up days, and a one-day follow at the end of the project. The project will also offer an interactive website and a number of field trips to places such as the National Archives in San Bruno and the San Francisco Pioneer Museum.

Grantee Name:Montebello Unified School District, CA
Project Name:A Constitutional Lens on Teaching American History
Project Director:Donna Esperon
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:35,000
Grade Levels:4, 5, 8, 11
Partners:the Huntington Library, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West
Topics:the Colonial Era, founding principles, the Jacksonian Age, Manifest Destiny, the Civil War amendments, Woodrow Wilson, the role of California in American history, and FDR and the New Deal
Methods:seminars with scholars, ongoing professional development sessions, and mentoring

Montebello Unified serves a high-poverty, diverse student population. Only half of its elementary schools, none of its middle schools, and two of three high schools met Adequate Yearly Progress. This 36-month project has been divided into two 18-month tracks. Activities will take place throughout the 18-month period to ensure that the project serves the year round schools in the district, where many of the teachers with less seniority are assigned. Project designers elected to provide opportunities for teachers to use knowledge and skills gained immediately in the classroom. The project establishes a district-based teaching American history professional development center where a master teacher assigned to the project will support teachers in planning professional development activities on an ongoing basis.

Grantee Name:Mount Diablo Unified School District, CA
Project Name:Teaching American History for All
Project Director:Evie Groch
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:11,000
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:the University of California (Berkeley)
Topics:colonists as citizens, self-government in the colonies, Reconstruction, and corporations as citizens
Methods:summer institutes, colloquia, coaching, and online activities

The project aims to lessen the wide achievement gap in American history between those proficient in English and those who are not. Teachers will learn how to lower language barriers by providing models for the strategic application of language development to history texts. They also will learn to analyze sources for historical value and accessibility to English learners and low-literacy students, developing source-specific reading and writing skills, and keeping students fully involved in subject-matter discussions. Content and literacy instruction will provide teachers with the tools they need to increase student achievement.

Grantee Name:San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, CA
Project Name:Teaching American History II (TAHII)
Project Director:Janice Hamner
Number of Teachers Served:36
Number of School Districts Served:3
Number of Students Served:67,320
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:the Nixon Birthplace and Library, the Reagan Presidential Library, the National Archives and Records Administration's Pacific Region, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, Brown University, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California
Topics:year 1: From Colonies to Colonialist: From the American Revolution to the "Open Door" Policy in Asia, year 2: The U.S. as a World Power: From "Big Stick" Diplomacy to Post-WWII International Institutions, and year 3: The American Century and After: From Cold War Diplomacy to 21st Century Foreign Relations

Of the 64 11th grade U.S. history teachers in the partner districts, only 12 (19%) have degrees in history. TAHII will promote and strengthen the teaching of 8th and 11th grade American history teachers to affect positively student achievement as measured by student standards-based content knowledge surveys and the state test. Participating teachers will meet for monthly scholarly seminars with presentations on topics related to major trends in the history of American foreign policy, with the intention of increasing their effectiveness with students. The six sessions will begin in September and end in May with the culminating event, a student town meeting on American foreign policy. The project will also provide opportunities for teachers to forge on-going relationships with scholars and curators, archivists, and education staff from participating historical organizations.

Grantee Name:San Diego County Office of Education, CA
Project Name:Perspectives on the American Experience
Project Director:Laurie Mosier
Number of Teachers Served:150
Number of School Districts Served:42
Number of Students Served:500,000
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:California State University (San Marcos), the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the International Studies Education Project (San Diego), and the San Diego Historical Society and Museum
Topics:A Developing Nation; Unity and Diversity—Perspectives on Social Change; Immigration and the American Dream; America's Role in the Changing World; and Images in American History
Methods:summer institutes, broadcast sessions, weekend seminars, mentoring, and online activities

Of 8th grade American history teachers in the participating districts, 71% did not major in the subject. Sixty-four percent of 8th grade students and 60% of 11th grade students scored below or far below basic in history on the 2005 California Standards Test; on the same tests, only 6% of English language learners scored proficient. Teachers in this project will increase their knowledge of American history by working closely with history scholars, curriculum specialists, district leadership, mentor/lead teachers and organizations with content area expertise. Professional development project activities and products will be provided using technology-based strategies to teach and learn American history in the 21st century. Participants will be engaged in accessing, researching, analyzing, and evaluating primary source documents, and using digital media to support the teaching of American history.

Grantee Name:San Joaquin County Office of Education, CA
Project Name:Religion in American History: What to Teach and How to Teach It
Project Director:Gary F. Dei Rossi
Number of Teachers Served:105
Number of School Districts Served:3
Number of Students Served:1,100,000
Grade Levels:4, 5, 8, 11, 12
Partners:California State University (San Bernardino), the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Center for Civic Education, and the First Amendment Center
Topics:John Winthrop, Rogers Williams, Native American religions, the Reformation's impact on American religion, Catholic influences, Protestant influences, growing religious diversity, religion and slavery, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 19th Century religion, the Scopes trial, religion versus communism, anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic rhetoric, Islam in America, and the Constitution and religion
Methods:summer institutes and symposia

In San Bernardino and San Joaquin, 70% or more of the students are "below proficient" on state American history assessments at the 8th and 11th grades, while in Orange County it is closer to half. The U.S. is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, and the most religious among the developed nations. Many teachers shy away from coverage of religion and its importance because they have received little information on the subject in college, or are worried that they will deal with highly charged topics incorrectly and will offend students and/or create political issues for their schools. This project will train a cadre of teacher leaders who will build the capacity of their schools and districts to teach about the evolution of religious liberty in the United States, and pivotal issues and events in American history reflecting the influence of religion on society. Institute scholars will include historians, religion experts, constitutional scholars and specialists on the proper methods for teaching about religion. The institute participants will implement and then write lessons about the influence of religion on key events and movements of American history such as colonial settlement, the War for Independence, settlement of the west, and the various waves of social reform in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Grantee Name: Santa Clara County Office of Education, CA
Project Name: Inventing America: Creating the Teacher/Scholar Community in the Santa Clara Valley
Project Director: David Walters
Funding: $999,994
Number of Teachers Served: 175
Number of School Districts Served: 5
Number of Students Served: 254,000
Grade Levels: 6-12
Partners: San Jose State University and Silicon Valley History Online
Topics: Colonial history, the 19th and 20th Centuries, and researching and writing history
Methods: summer symposia, guest/historian lectures, book talks, website, archival collection, and local History Day events

The first goal of the project is to deepen the knowledge of 35 teacher/scholars on the significant issues, episodes, and turning points in the history of the U.S. They, in turn, will conduct professional development seminars for up to 140 of their peers. Another result of the project will be the creation of a community of historians, archivists, librarians, professional development experts, master teachers, pedagogical experts, and local administrators. History Day events, such as junior and senior history paper competitions, will be conducted in the second and third years of the project. In addition, historians, in collaboration with archivists, master teachers, and professional development experts, will modify coursework in such a way that it combines traditional American historiography and dynamic interpretative history with the requirements of the California Academic Content Standards in American history.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006