Teaching American History

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Virginia 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Charlottesville City Public Schools, VA
Project Name:The Virginia Experiment: Growing Seeds of Democracy in 400 Years of American History
Project Director:Andrew T. Mink
Number of Teachers Served:No Information Available
Number of School Districts Served:5
Number of Students Served:25,718
Grade Levels:4-8, 11
Partners:the University of Virginia, Indiana University-Purdue University, Montpelier, the Monticello Foundation, the Virginia Council on Indians, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Virginia Historical Society, and local libraries and museums
Topics:Early America, the Revolution and a new nation, expansion and reform (1801-1860), the Civil War and Reconstruction, reshaping the nation and the emergence of modern America (1877-1930), World War II, the U.S. since WWII, and historical thinking skills
Methods:History speaker series, teacher institutes, summer seminar field experience, and identification of teaching fellows to help create instructional leaders

Charlottesville City schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2004-05 school year; students qualified for free/reduced lunches number 50.3%. As a result, there is a pressing need to better prepare the district's students, many of whom are disadvantaged, for success on state tests. This project seeks to do that by improving the preparation of history teachers. It will do this by providing the resources and training for teachers to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of traditional democratic ideals by providing in-depth coverage of the scope and chronology of American history. This project will provide opportunities for teachers to interact with professional historians, refine and extend their content knowledge, explore and apply the skills of historical inquiry, and serve as instructional leaders in the integration of content to classroom practice. Teachers will engage with nationally renowned scholars through an annual History Speaker Series and will engage in a summer seminar field experience that provides the opportunity for authentic hands-on learning with a historian.

Grantee Name:Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Teaching the American 20th Century Institute
Project Director:William Obrochta
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:56,156
Grade Levels:7, 10-11
Partners:the Virginia Historical Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Smithsonian Institution
Topics:Mirror to America (e.g., John Hope Franklin, Douglas Wilder), the emergence of modern America (e.g., rise of corporations, growth of federal government, emergence of U.S. as a military power), America during World War II, the Gilded Age, Immigration, Industrialization and Labor, Rise of the Great Society, Civil Rights, and the Cold War
Methods:summer seminars in Richmond, New York City, and Washington, D.C.; workshops, tours, museum visits, interviews, electronic resource portfolios, and coaching

The State's Board of Education recommended a significant change to its Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments. As of spring 2004, fully half of the questions on the end-of-course assessment for U.S. history now cover the 20th Century. While ideally placed to experience the early history of the U.S., Chesterfield teachers are less familiar with, and less comfortable teaching, more recent historic content. Analysis of the spring 2005 SOL results indicate that the average percentage of correct answers is only 50.4 percent, indicating a strong need for improved teaching of the material related to these questions. Ninety of Chesterfield's 240 secondary history teachers will have the opportunity to learn about and understand the complex relationships between the events of the nation's recent past. Each year's institute, held for cohorts of 30 teachers, will consist of a series of two-day seminars during the school year and culminate in two weeklong intensive Summer Seminars in Richmond, Washington D.C., and New York City, for a total of sixteen days of training over the course of the year.

Grantee Name:Newport News Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Foundations of Freedom III: Defining, Defending, and Diffusing Democracy
Project Director:Sybil Young
Number of Teachers Served:75
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:32,000
Grade Levels:6-12
Partners:Old Dominion University, the Bill of Rights Institute, the National Council for History Education, the Organization of American Historians, the Virginia Historical Society, WHRO (a PBS affiliate), and the Virginia War Museum
Topics:year 1: Defining democracy in the early 20th Century, year 2: Defending democracy during the war years, and year 3: Diffusing democracy in the Cold War
Methods:institutes, academies, colloquia, lectures, DVDs, and development of lesson activity books

Sixty-six percent of district students are ethnic minorities, 49% are economically disadvantaged, and 13.5% are special needs students. The project is designed to reduce the history achievement gaps among these subpopulations by increasing teacher content knowledge aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning history assessment and by better equipping teachers to teach history to diverse learners. The goal of this project is to ensure that all high school history teachers will deliver high quality American history content as measured by student achievement on the 11th grade state assessment.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006