Teaching American History

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New Mexico 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Alamogordo Public Schools, NM
Project Name:Project 1776: The Shaping of the American Democratic Republic
Project Director:Gregory S. Butler
Number of Teachers Served:25
Number of School Districts Served:2
Number of Students Served:20,729
Grade Levels:9-12
Partners:New Mexico State University, the National Association of Scholars, the National Humanities Council, the Museum of New Mexico, and the Los Alamos History Museum
Topics:the centrality of American history; the Protestant Reformation; religion and colonial American political consciousness; birth of a constitutional society; the Declaration of Independence; George Washington and his presidency; the Articles of Confederation; framers of the Constitution; ratification issues; Bill of Rights issues; the beginnings of the American Republic; and the early Republic
Methods:summer academic conferences, field trip to Philadelphia, public lectures, teacher support network, and mentoring system

In 2003-04, only 6% of Gadsden eighth grade students reached advanced proficiency in reading and eight percent of the eleventh graders reached advanced proficiency. This record of low achievement may be related to the fact that Dona Aña County is home to the highest child poverty rate in New Mexico, the state with the highest overall poverty rate in the nation. In regard to American history and social studies in particular, the state falls well below standard. New Mexico has received a failing grade in 1998, 2000, and 2003 on the "report card" issued by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which measures effective standards for teaching American history. The project will cover a full range of traditional American history content, from the beginnings of the republic in colonial times up to the present day. In order to facilitate the study of such a wealth of historical material, Project 1776 will be organized around a central general theme: the history and development of American constitutional democracy. The major premise behind this organizational theme is that American history ought to be understood as more than a series of random events, ideas, documents, and personalities.

Grantee Name:Albuquerque Public Schools, NM
Project Name:East Meets West: Traditional American History for New Mexico Teachers
Project Director:Martha Fenstermacher
Number of Teachers Served:35
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:91,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the National Council for History Education, Colonial Williamsburg, the University of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, and the National Atomic Museum
Topics:comparative frontiers of colonial and revolutionary America; battlegrounds, 19th Century meeting grounds, and territorial expansion; and science and technology in the 20th Century
Methods:seminars, museum visits, field trips, and summer colloquia

Because of its location in the southwest, Albuquerque Public Schools serves a higher percentage (4.8%) of Native American students than many larger school districts in the nation, where the norm is usually less than one percent. The district also serves a large Latino population (52%). The demographic makeup of the district's student population lends itself to cultivating high interest in many of the key threads of traditional American history, such as conflicts between indigenous peoples and colonialism, and the birth and evolution of a nation seeking to provide freedom and justice for diverse populations. Academic and public historians will lead teachers through sessions and courses, and learning specialists and master teachers will work with APS teachers to help them deliver traditional themes and topics of American history to students in their classrooms. Over the three years of the grant, district teachers will study and understand the key issues, episodes, people, documents, and turning points in American history, how the historical actions of individuals have determined the course of the nation, and how founding documents have affected the country politically, socially, and globally.

Grantee Name:Portales Municipal School District, NM
Project Name:Portales Pioneers: Teaching American History in Eastern New Mexico
Project Director:Wendy Brooks
Number of Teachers Served:75
Number of School Districts Served:14
Number of Students Served:23,700
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Eastern New Mexico University, the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the New Mexico Museum of Space History, the Amarillo Railroad Museum, the City of Las Vegas Museum, and the Rough Rider Memorial Collection
Topics:the Civil War, Westward Expansion, the Space Age, and the Nuclear Age
Methods:summer institutes, monthly professional development activities, website, and museum visits

The consortium serves the most impoverished, lowest-performing children in the state; eligible teachers will be selected from Title I and "needs improvement" schools that operate in the region. The ultimate beneficiaries will be consortium students, who will gain a better understanding of the ideas, issues, and events of American history and will be better prepared to appreciate and exercise their civic rights, liberties, and responsibilities as American citizens. The goal of the project is to establish a network of highly skilled, highly trained, master American history teachers who will share their knowledge with colleagues. This will be achieved by providing participating teachers with the opportunity to attend three week-long summer institutes and monthly professional development meetings, as well as receive coaching by a Master Teacher. An interactive website offering distance learning opportunities will also be offered. Among the U.S. history topics to be covered are the Civil War, Reconstruction, Westward Expansion, and the Manhattan Project.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006