Teaching American History

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South Dakota 2008 Grant Abstract
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Grantee Name:Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, SD
Project Name:We Americans
Project Director:Joseph Graves
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:70
Number of Students Served:35,308
Grade Levels:4, 5, 8 and 11
Partners:Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, University of South Dakota, Lee Family Digital Archives, Joslyn Art Museum, and South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Topics:Year 1 - Colonial America to 1763 and the New Nation to 1815; Year 2 - New Democracy to the Civil War, 1815-1865, and Reconstruction and Reform, 1865-1933; Year 3 - The New Deal and World Power, 1933-1974, and Decline and Revival, 1974-present
Methods:Summer institutes, field trips, graduate courses

The project will serve eastern and south central South Dakota, targeting extremely rural school districts that have little access to teacher professional development and few high-quality teaching resources. Less than 4% of district teachers hold a degree in American history, and only 10% of high schools offer AP or advanced level American history courses. To address these issues, the project will offer a comprehensive professional development program that will improve teachers' content knowledge in American history, provide training in best teaching practices, and create a community of teacher-historians. Through summer institutes, graduate courses at the University of South Dakota, and targeted field studies, teachers will develop a network of colleagues while increasing their knowledge of traditional American history. To facilitate delivery of the professional development, classes will be delivered via distance technology, including on-line and satellite television with the Dakota Digital Network. Practical application of the history content studied will be facilitated through visits to historically significant locations such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and the Western Heritage Museum in Nebraska. The project will include an emphasis on Native American history and will include topics as varied as Pre-Columbian America and English settlements in Year 1, the Great Depression and Jim Crow in Year 2, and the Atomic Age, American foreign policy, and the Cold War in Year 3.

Last Modified: 08/13/2008