Teaching American History

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Florida 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Duval County Public Schools, FL
Project Name:Teaching American History in Jacksonville
Project Director:Patricia C. Cascone
Number of Teachers Served:75
Number of School Districts Served:7
Number of Students Served:133,400
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:the Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine historical societies, Jacksonville University, Florida State University, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Science and History, the Jacksonville Maritime Museum, and the Karpeles Manuscript Library
Topics:migration, the original colonies, the American Revolution, European exploration, the Colonial Era, social and economic change, cultural collisions, settlement patterns, and the Gilded Age
Methods:summer institutes, workshops, technology integration, graduate coursework, field trips, and professional learning communities

With the goal of improving student achievement in American history, the project will deliver a community-supported professional development design and Internet-based publication of history instructional units that will extend project benefits beyond the grant period. All professional development formats will focus on enabling participants to understand and appreciate American history through hands-on field experiences and content-rich activities that will translate into the development of inquiry-based teaching units for use in the K-12 classroom. Involvement of community agencies in art and history will bring personal relevance to American history content.

Grantee Name:Lake County Schools, FL
Project Name:Teacher Evaluations in American Constitutional History
Project Director:Liz Holbert
Number of Teachers Served:35
Number of School Districts Served:No Information Available
Number of Students Served:16,000
Grade Levels:6-8
Partners:the University of Florida, the Florida Humanities Council, the Organization of American Historians, the Lake County Library System, and Sam Houston University
Topics:year 1: the 15th to 18th Centuries, year 2: the 19th Century, and year 3: the 20th and 21st Centuries
Methods:summer institutes, semi-annual lecture series, quarterly professional learning community meetings, monthly online discussion boards, workshops, and CD teaching tools

Florida's 8th grade curriculum recently changed from "Florida: Challenges and Choices" to "U.S. History," creating an urgent need for content-rich American history classes. Eight of the county's nine middle schools did not make adequate yearly progress for 2004-05. Teachers from these schools will be given priority in the selection of project participants. In addition, Lake County's enrollment of limited English proficiency (LEP) students has increased by 380 students per year. This project will improve the rigor and relevance of instruction in American history and increase student appreciation of and achievement in American history. The project will develop, document, evaluate, and disseminate a comprehensive model of professional development that focuses on eight recurring themes as they relate to three time periods of America's history. The project's themes were chosen based on the Bradley Commission Report that responded to concerns over the quantity and quality of the history taught in U.S. classrooms. Themes also closely parallel the College Board model that leads students to think conceptually about America's past and to focus on historical change over time.

Grantee Name:School Board of Polk County, FL
Project Name:Turning Points
Project Director:Rozy Scott
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:93,000
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:the National Council for History Education, the University of Florida, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum for Florida History
Topics:year 1: the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the establishment of a new government, the Louisiana Purchase, the Monroe Doctrine, the Mexican-American War, and early reform movements, year 2: the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Movement, and debate over international involvement, and year 3: the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, civil rights, and Sputnik and the technological revolution
Methods:colloquia, seminars, and workshops

Students in eight classes representing a cross-section of socio-economic demographics took a 25-question test covering basic American history facts and concepts. Results were alarming—56.7% failed the test, and 18.8% earned a "D." To counteract the lack of student knowledge on the nation's history, the project will focus on giving teachers high-quality U.S. history content and helping them develop expertise in the incorporation and analysis of artifacts, documents, art, and music to make history come alive for students. This professional development program will focus around twelve key turning points in the nation's history. These turning points, identified by historians consulting with district content staff, will give teachers the opportunity to identify, explore, and understand the pivotal points that shaped the course of American history and to consider the course the nation's history might have taken if a different path had been followed. Fifty teachers will participate in colloquia, seminars, and workshops delivered by professional historians, museum staff, and learning specialists and will become colleague trainers.

Grantee Name:School District of Clay County, FL
Project Name:Andrew Jackson Liberty Fellowship
Project Director:Dianna L. Miller
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:33,000
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners: the Clay County Historical Society, the American Institute for History Education, and Learners Online
Topics:year 1: the Empire versus the Colonies, year 2: the Agrarian South and the Industrializing North, and year 3: Liberal Democracy versus Totalitarianism
Methods:summer institutes, colloquia, field trips, Web-based content delivery system, and workshops

In the past 15 years, the district has seen a 40% increase in the general student population and a significant increase in the number of English language learner students. There also is a high rate of mobility of students and teachers due to proximity to area naval bases. Project goals are to increase teacher and student knowledge of American history, develop a permanent professional development community of history teachers, develop a team of trainers to teach peers, teach the use of historical sites and visual enhancements, create more than 100 historical narratives and unit lessons, and improve student achievement. Through this project, district teachers will have the opportunity to advance their understanding of our nation's history through sustained, intensive professional development consisting of workshops led by experts in their fields and collaborative efforts with the content partners. All professional development will meet the benchmarks of the Florida Sunshine State Standards and the benchmarks recommended by the American Historical Association.

Grantee Name:School District of Palm Beach County, FL
Project Name:Studying Triumphs, Eras, People, and Struggles (STEPS) in Time
Project Director:Mary Arbogast
Number of Teachers Served:102
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:15,000
Grade Levels:8, 11
Partners:the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Florida Atlantic University, the Organization of American Historians, the University of Central Florida, the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Public Library, the Flagler and Norton museums, Digital History, and the College Board
Topics:18th century colonial America, the American Revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, the Industrial Revolution, economics of the 1920's and 1930's, World War II, and the Cold War
Methods:seminars, online activities, lectures, field trips, workshops, summer institutes, and summer retreats

Of the 346 secondary school American history teachers in SDPBC, 111 have less than five years of teaching experience, 42 are teaching out of field, and 65 hold only a temporary Florida teaching certificate. Only 19 of 346 American history teachers majored or minored in the subject. The county has become a diverse, overpopulated place where 43% of youth under age 18 live below the poverty line and 141 languages and dialects are spoken in the public schools. This project will provide rigorous, content-rich professional development to increase teachers' traditional American history content knowledge, understanding, and appreciation, along with improved student engagement through research-based content enhancement strategies. Partnerships will provide a wealth of expertise and resources to help teachers make important connections in learning and understanding traditional American history, enliven the classroom experience, and increase student achievement.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006