Teaching American History

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Florida 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Panhandle Education Consortium
Project Name:The PAEC Patriot Project
Project Director:Tony Anderson
Number of Teachers Served:43
Number of School Districts Served:14
Number of Students Served:17,900
Grade Levels:Grade 5
Partners:Colonial Williamsburg, Florida A & M University, Ball State University, Gulf Coast Community College, Organization of American Historians, WorldStrides, Inc., Florida Historical Museum
Topics:Year 1: American Revolution and the Founding Documents; Year 2: African Americans and the Civil War, Reconstruction Era, and the Industrial Revolution; Year 3: World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War
Methods:Summer institutes, field studies, web-based instruction

The Patriot Project integrates rich learning experiences with the modeling of pedagogy reflecting best practices in teaching traditional American history. According to a 2007 survey of professional development directors in PAEC member districts, none of the 98 reported Grade 5 American history teachers had participated in an American history teacher professional development activity during the past five years. In addition, none of these American history educators held a degree in American history. Through this grant, fifth grade American history teachers representing every member district school designated by the state as being "In Need of Improvement" and six mentor high school teachers will have the opportunity to increase their understanding of American history by participating in intensive, long-term professional development, which includes content delivered by experts, experiences that will provide a personal connection to national historical sites, and the opportunity to learn to use exciting, student-engaging technology in the delivery of their own classroom lessons. During the three-year period of the proposed project, teacher lessons will be developed and delivered by historians who will provide a sharply focused historical continuum of significant events in American history rather than an isolated series of historical events. The historical content to be covered includes, but is not limited to, the following: colonial America, the Revolution, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Lewis and Clark, and the War of 1812.

Grantee Name:School Board of Broward County
Project Name:America's Presidents: Roots, Rise and Resilience
Project Director:Louise Ball
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:5,500
Grade Levels:Grades 4-12
Partners:Florida Atlantic University, American Institute for History Education, Bill of Rights Institute, Document Based Questions Inc.
Topics:Year 1: Building of an English America; Year 2: Empire vs. the Colonies; Year 3: Agrarian South and Industrial North
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, online resources

The School Board of Broward County, Florida, proposes to conduct the America's Presidents project that includes an extensive professional development plan for American history/social studies teachers in Grades 4-12 to enhance their content knowledge and ability to deliver specific American history content in the classroom to inspire students. The project will engage teachers as learning partners with Florida Atlantic University, the American Institute for History Education, the Bill of Rights Institute, and Document Based Questions, Inc. The project will include a two-week summer institute and scholar workshops throughout the year, covering content immersion, creative and interactive instructional strategies, and the development of American history Lead Teachers who will serve as mentors for other participating teachers. The summer institutes will include one week of study at historic locations (Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia) to provide teachers with more inspiring and complete coverage of historical content. Schools that are identified for improvement, and teachers from these low-performing schools, will be actively recruited for participation. The project will include the development of a website to provide interactive lesson plans and content on specific topics in American History; develop an online resource for sharing of lesson plans, successful classroom strategies, and a discussion forum for all district teachers on American History.

Grantee Name:School Board of Orange County
Project Name:American History in the Sunshine
Project Director:Jean Floyd
Number of Teachers Served:175
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:38,005
Grade Levels:Grades 7-8
Partners:University of Central Florida, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, White House Historical Association, Orange County Regional History Center
Topics:Native American and European exploration; colonial America; the Revolution; the new Republic; Age of Jackson; slavery and Sectionalism; the Civil War
Methods:Colloquia, mentoring, summer institutes

Orange County Public Schools in Florida, the eleventh largest school district in the nation, is proposing a professional development program entitled American History in the Sunshine (AHS), to improve the content knowledge of its American history middle school teachers, many of whom have had very little exposure to American historical content in their educational background. Historians and other scholars from partnering organizations will work together to deliver quality historical content and content-related teaching methods. Through 11 days of programs and classes offered throughout the school year, AHS teachers will participate in lively academic freedom and democracy discussions and debates, investigate specific historic events, study influential historical figures, analyze turning points in American history, experience contemporary interpretations, use primary source documents and later historiographies, and practice content-related teaching strategies pertaining to each period of study. Teachers will participate in a 9-day field study during the summer. The historical content will include the following topics: Cultural Encounters: Native American and European Exploration; the Colonial Experience: the Development of the 13 Colonies; Independence: Revolutionary and Non-revolutionary changes; A New Nation: the Early Republic and the Age of Jackson; and The Crisis Comes: Slavery and Sectionalism and the Civil War.

Grantee Name:School District of Manatee County
Project Name:Freedom and Democracy Project
Project Director:Ronald Hirst
Number of Teachers Served:25
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:42,370
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8, 11
Partners:University of South Florida, National Council for History Education, Organization of American Historians, Florida Humanities Council
Topics:Year 1: Freedom and Democracy: 1607-1800; Year 2: 1800-1900; Year 3: 1900- Recent Past
Methods:Lectures, colloquia, workshops, field studies

Through this project, the School Board of Manatee County seeks to rectify gaps in teacher content knowledge preparation by giving educators the intellectual and practical skills to make history instruction meaningful and productive for the district's students. The project also seeks to improve student achievement in American history by strengthening the knowledge base of teachers delivering American history instruction. Objectives project include creating a consortium of enthusiastic teachers with a detailed and rich knowledge in traditional American History; utilizing this content knowledge to measurably improve students' understanding and appreciation of American history; and sustaining the application of this content knowledge to other district teachers to create a more on-going and significant understanding of traditional American history. A cadre of 25 teachers for Grades 5, 8, and 11 will receive intensive professional development sessions and support. The project's historical content will focus on the essential events, themes, documents, and individuals that comprise American history and the unique character of the American historical perspective. The learning is organized chronologically over the three years beginning with the colonial era moving to the Jacksonian era, the civil war and the American west in year two and exploring 1900 to the present in year three.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008